Phillies waste solid start by Harang as Harper gets 2 RBIs for Nationals in 4-1 victory



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WASHINGTON — Victimized by a streaking team and a hot hitter, the Philadelphia Phillies half-heartedly picked at a spread of cold cuts in a clubhouse devoid of music or laughter.

Another road series had just ended in disappointment, this time with a 4-1 loss to the Washington Nationals on Sunday.

After splitting the first two games, Philadelphia had a chance to capture its first series on the road since last Sept. 5-7. Instead, the Phillies limped out of town with an 0-9-1 record in its past 10 away series.

Bryce Harper had two RBIs for the Nationals, including an opposite-field bloop off left-hander Jake Diekman that made it 3-1 in the seventh.

"Diekman has been tough on Harper in the past," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "(Harper) is one of those hot hitters. Even a ball that gets in on him, a jam-shot, found a hole there. Looked like he made a decent pitch; he just fought it off and blooped it in."

In addition to moving into the NL lead with 41 RBIs, Harper also increased his league-leading totals in walks (39) and runs (39).

The 22-year-old also threw out a runner from right field on a force play at second base.

Philadelphia wasted a solid effort by starter Aaron Harang (4-4), who allowed two runs, seven hits and two walks in six innings. Harang limited the damage on an afternoon when his control wasn't particularly sharp.

"I was putting myself in holes, kind of getting behind in the count, and when I did come back they were able to put the bat on the ball and get some hits," the right-hander said. "I made some big pitches when I needed to."

Gio Gonzalez (4-2) gave up one run and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings to win his third straight decision.

Drew Storen, the fifth Washington pitcher, worked the ninth for his 14th save. The Nationals have won eight straight series and 19 of 24 games overall.

Philadelphia finished with eight hits, two by Jeff Francoeur. The Phillies' starting lineup was without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who were a combined 3 for 31 against Gonzalez.

Washington went up 2-1 in the fifth inning when Yunel Escobar hit a leadoff triple and scored on Harper's bouncer to shortstop. That was a good sign for the Nationals, who came in 17-0 when Escobar scores.

In the seventh, Odubel Herrera hit a one-out single and went halfway to second on Cameron Rupp's blooper to right. Harper got the ball on one hop and fired to shortstop Ian Desmond for an unusual 9-6 forceout.

"Favor the go-ahead base in that situation," Sandberg said, noting that Herrera should have advanced farther up the line with the ball in the air.

The Nationals scored two runs in their half of the seventh. After Harper's single, Ryan Zimmerman — who had stranded five runners in his first three at-bats — hit an RBI double.

Gonzalez faced the minimum over the first three innings, getting four strikeouts and a pair of double plays.

In the fourth, Philadelphia used a two-out single by Francoeur to go up 1-0.

Harang's streak of 17 straight innings without allowing an earned run ended in the bottom half. Clint Robinson led off with a double and scored on a single by Jose Lobaton.

But for the third time in four innings, Washington left two runners on base.

FRESH ARMS

Phillies: When Harang pitches, the bullpen rests. He's gone at least six innings in all 10 starts.

Nationals: Washington recalled RHP Taylor Jordan from Triple-A Syracuse and optioned RHP A.J. Cole to the same club. Cole struck out seven in 4 1-3 innings of relief Saturday.

ON DECK

Phillies: RHP Severino Gonzalez (2-1, 7.11 ERA) makes his fourth major league start Monday in the opener of a three-game series against the host New York Mets.

Nationals: Illinois native Tanner Roark gets his first start of the season Monday on the road against the Chicago Cubs.

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