- - Wednesday, September 12, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — Phillies ace Aaron Nola entered his start against the Nationals on Wednesday night as a Cy Young award contender, along with Max Scherzer of Washington and Jacob deGrom of the Mets.

But the Nationals hitters helped the cause of teammate Scherzer, as Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman slammed homers off Nola and defeated the host Phillies 5-1 to sweep the three-game series.

Washington right-hander Stephen Strasburg (8-7), whose locker here was next to Scherzer, improved to 5-0 in Philadelphia and 12-2 against the Phillies as he allowed only one run over seven innings. He struck out nine and allowed just five hits.

Rookie sensation Juan Soto hit a monster homer over his name on the scoreboard in right field to give the Nationals a 5-1 lead in the sixth. It was his 19th homer of the year and third in the last two games for Soto, playing in his 100th big league game.

The third-place Nationals (73-73) won for the fifth straight time — something they had not done since late May. Washington is just 1½ games back of second-place Philadelphia (74-71), which has dropped five of its last six games at home to the Nationals and 17 of 23 in the past few weeks.

Washington has just 16 games left and remains eight games behind first-place Atlanta (82-64), which won 2-1 Wednesday in San Francisco.

Perhaps playing for pride, and personal statistics, the Nationals jumped on Nola for three runs in the top of the first.

Trea Turner singled with one out and then Harper followed with a two-run shot to center, his 33rd homer of the year. Harper now has four homers against Nola and 24 versus the Phillies.

Anthony Rendon was next and doubled and scored on a single by Zimmerman for a 3-0 lead.

Zimmerman homered in the fourth off Nola to give Washington a 4-0 bulge.

Strasburg lost his shutout when J.P. Crawford (career-high three hits) hit a solo homer to right in the fifth to trim the lead to 4-1.

Nola gave up four runs, tying a season high, before former George Mason University star Justin Bour was used as a pinch-hitter for Nola in the last of the fifth. A product of LSU, Nola entered the game with an ERA of 2.29 but it rose to 2.42.

The Phillies were unbeaten in the first 13 games started by Nola at home this season before they lost on September 2 to the Cubs.

Strasburg, with a fastball around 92 to 94, won for just the second time since May 27 — with both victories coming in Philadelphia. He chatted with the home plate umpire and crew chief Hunter Wendelstedt after retiring the Phillies in the third and seventh.

Koda Glover and Wander Suero each tossed a scoreless inning out of the bullpen for the Nationals.

Soto, 19, became the only teenager in big league history to hit two homers in a game three times Tuesday. Soto also made a stellar catch on a foul ball in that game.

NOTES: The Nationals are slated to host the Cubs on Thursday at 4:05 p.m. That is the makeup from the rainout on Sunday. Joe Ross will start for the Nationals against Cubs lefty Mike Montgomery (4-5, 3.85) … Bour is being used as a pinch-hitter and reserve first baseman for the Phillies. He played at Westfield High in Fairfax County … Phillies catcher Wilson Ramos, a former Nationals star, did not start. He is hitting .404 in 19 games with the Phillies since he was traded by Tampa Bay. Bour came to the Phillies in a trade with the Marlins earlier this summer.

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