- - Sunday, July 14, 2019

PHILADELPHIA — Maikel Franco hit a homer with one out in the last of the ninth off reliever Matt Grace as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 4-3 on Sunday.

The second-place Nationals (49-43) had won the previous five games against the Phillies and are now 9-5 against their NL East rivals this season.

Despite the loss, Washington is 30-12 since May 24 for the best mark in the majors during that time. The Nationals began the day six games back of first-place Atlanta, which plays at San Diego.

Trailing 3-1, the Nationals scored two runs in the seventh.

Pinch-hitter Howie Kendrick and Trea Turner had RBI singles with one out off reliever JD Hammer to tie the game 3-3. But the Nationals left two runners on base as Kendrick was retired at home on a fielder’s choice and Anthony Rendon popped out to end the threat.

The Phillies assumed a 2-1 lead in the fifth as Jean Segura had an RBI single off Sanchez. But the Phillies left the bases loaded as Sanchez induced Rhys Hoskins to fly out to left to end the threat.

Philadelphia catcher J.T. Realmuto, who came off the paternity list Saturday, hit a solo homer off Sanchez for a 3-1 lead in the sixth.

Rendon led off the top of the fourth with a double, went to third on a groundout and scored on an RBI single by Matt Adams to make it 1-0.

The third-place Phillies (48-45) tied the game in the bottom of the fourth as Jean Segura also had a leadoff double and scored on a single by J.T. Realmuto.

Washington starter Anibal Sanchez gave up three runs in six innings and was not involved in the decision. “Since he has come off the IL he has been really good,” manager Dave Martinez said of Sanchez before the game. “He is a competitor; he doesn’t quit.”

Philadelphia starter Jake Arrieta, who has been dealing with bone spurs, went five innings and gave one run on four hits. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter with two out and no outs in the last of the fifth.

Sanchez, after a visit from pitching coach Paul Menhart, retired pinch-hitter Brad Miller in the fifth but couldn’t get out of the inning without allowing a run.

The Nationals beat the Phillies 4-0 on Friday, then won 4-3 on Saturday night as Juan Soto hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth off Phillies closer Hector Neris with two outs. It was the third go-ahead homer in the ninth inning or later in the young career of Soto — all against the Phillies.

“I can’t say enough … being 20 years old and doing the things he does,” Martinez said of Soto. “I am just glad he is on our team.”

Martinez and Menhart had a conversation when Menhart came on board in early May. “I told him the biggest (concern) for me were the walks,” Martinze said of the bullpen. “The walks kills you; they have done a better job with that.”

That was the case again Sunday.

The Nationals are off Monday, with Austin Voth slated to pitch Tuesday in Baltimore. He takes the spot of ace Max Scherzer, who went on the Injured List Saturday with a mid-back strain.

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