- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — There were real fireworks after the game Friday night in South Philadelphia.

But the Nationals put on their own pyrotechnic display a few days before July 4, blasting seven home runs in a 17-7 blitzing of the host Philadelphia Phillies.

The Nationals (42-38), who had lost six in a row on the road, hit seven homers in a game for the first time since going deep eight times last year against Milwaukee.

Rookie sensation Juan Soto, who turns 20 in October, had four hits — including two homers — and drove in five runs as he lifted his average to .336. It was his first career four-hit game, a career-high RBI game while he and Mark Reynolds hit back-to-back homers in the ninth.

“I just try to make good contact,” said Soto, when asked if he was trying to go deep. “I hope we can do the same thing; tomorrow we have the same plan … like today. Everybody had fun.”

Bryce Harper also joined in the fun, lofting a three-run shot to left field in the fourth inning to give him a league-high 20 homers. He now has 13 homers at Citizens Bank Park, the most of any visiting park.

“We were just trying to put good swings on pitches,” said Harper, who also drew three walks as the No. 3 hitter. “It is a lot of fun to be out there. We had great at-bats. That is a good Phillies team over there. Hitting is contagious. It was a lot of fun to play that game.”

The offensive outburst came after the Nationals had been blanked seven times this month, including back-to-back shutouts on Monday and Tuesday at Tampa Bay. Washington had only one run Thursday against the Phillies before scoring two in the ninth in a 4-3 loss.

The Nationals surpassed a 15-2 win at San Francisco in late April with the outburst Friday. Washington began the day four games back of first-place Atlanta in the National League East.

“We needed that. That bats came alive and they came alive big,” said Dave Martinez, the Nationals manager. “I know it was just one game. It was just a matter of time. These guys are good hitters. I think their approach was to stay in the middle of the field. A lot of the home runs were to the middle of the field. The approach was phenomenal today.”

The Nationals got off to a fast start as Trea Turner and Soto slammed homers in the first, Anthony Rendon went deep in the second and Harper followed suit in the fourth.

“When Trea hit the home run that sparked everybody,” Martinez said. “When you score first good things happen.”

Harper was among the hitters who hit the ball to the opposite field with his homer.

“I thought we did a great job of that,” he said of hitting the ball the other way.

The winning pitcher was right-handed starter Erick Fedde (1-3), who got his first major league victory in his eighth big league start. He allowed five runs in five innings while throwing 115 pitches, and four relievers each threw one inning.

“He kept us in the game,” Martinez said of Fedde. “We wanted to save the bullpen. This is the most pitches he has thrown. He did well. He needs to start working ahead in the count a lot more. He is going to be really good.”

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