- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - Phillies rookie Aaron Altherr could have a long, successful career, and Friday night may still be the best he has.

Altherr had four hits and two homers, including the first inside-the-park grand slam in the majors leagues in 16 years, as Philadelphia beat the Washington Nationals 8-2 to open a three-game series.

“Just a good day I guess,” said Altherr, trying to explain his exceptional 33rd big-league game. “Put the bat on the ball and good things happen.”

A native of Landstuhl, Germany, Altherr drove in five and capped his first four-hit game with a double in the seventh and a ninth-inning single.

The Phillies trailed 1-0 when Altherr hit a low liner to center with the bases loaded. Michael Taylor attempted a diving catch but missed, and the ball rolled toward the center field fence.



As left fielder Jayson Werth scrambled to retrieve it, the bases cleared and Altherr raced all the way around, sliding home to complete the grand slam without a play at the plate.

“Heart stopped a little bit,” Altherr said. “And then I saw it go by, and I was like, ‘Oh man, I might have a chance here.’ Just tried to run as fast as I could.”

Altherr became the first player to clear the bases with an inside-the-park shot since since Tampa Bay’s Randy Winn did it in 1999, and the first for the Phillies since Ted Kazanski did so in 1956, according to STATS.

He even accomplished something manager Pete Mackanin couldn’t recall seeing before over a long playing and coaching career.

“I’m sure I have over 47 years, but I can’t remember. I hit into a triple play once,” Mackanin quipped.

Cody Asche had two hits, including a two-run homer, and Darin Ruf added a solo homer and a double for the Phillies, who had lost eight of nine and are in their final road series.

Rookie Jerad Eickhoff (2-3) won for the first time since his Aug. 21 debut, giving up two runs on five hits while striking out 10. NL MVP contender Bryce Harper struck out three times against Eickhoff, running his hitless streak to four games.

“You strike out Harper three times, you’ve done a hell of a job,” said Mackanin.

Said Eickhoff: “I was just fortunate enough to get some pitches in the right location and force them to swing the bat a little bit.”

Altherr’s night spoiled the potential home farewell of Jordan Zimmermann (13-9), who will be a free agent this offseason. The right-hander exited after allowing six earned runs on six hits over five innings in his first loss since Aug. 12.

The Nationals lost their fourth straight and fell to the brink of elimination from playoff contention.

BREAK FOR HERRERA

Mackanin said he may give rookie OF Odubel Herrera a few days off after he went 0 for 5 Friday and fell to 2 for 21 over his last six games. On the season, Herrera is batting .288 with eight homers and 40 RBI.

“I don’t want him to finish the season on a low note, because he’s done such a great job for us,” Mackanin said.

TRAINER’S ROOM:

1B Ryan Howard (knee) took batting practice Friday. . INF Maikel Franco played three innings Friday in an instructional league game in Florida, Mackanin said.

UP NEXT

RHP Aaron Nola (6-2, 3.84) allowed six runs in five innings in a loss to Washington on Sept. 14. He’ll be opposed by RHP Stephen Strasburg (10-7, 3.81), who gave up one hit over eight innings in beating the Phillies on Sept. 15. He’s allowed four runs over his last three starts while striking out 37 batters in 22 1-3 innings.

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