- - Sunday, June 16, 2019

It was a novelty when Bryce Harper came to Nationals Park in early April for the first time as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

No novelties now. Just do-or-die for the Nationals, who were treading water this weekend even though they crushed Arizona 15-5 Sunday to salvage a four-game series split at Nationals Park.

The Nationals (33-38) are 8 games back of first-place Atlanta and trail second-place Philadelphia by six in the National League East.

Washington will host the Phillies for four games starting Monday and then the Braves are at Nationals Park for three contests over the weekend.

“Obviously we all know who we are playing. They are ahead of us,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of the looming Phillies series.



Harper was 5-for-7 in two games at Washington in April, with a double, homer and three RBI. The Phillies are coming off a 15-3 trouncing at the hands of the Braves on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Nationals got a career-high seven RBI on Father’s Day from Matt Adams, who hit two homers, including a grand slam in the eighth.

“It means a lot, especially having my dad in the stands,” Adams said.

Adam Eaton, Howie Kendrick and Anthony Rendon each had three hits against Arizona. Rendon homered.

Catcher Kurt Suzuki, who homered in the fifth and will be needed this week, had to leave the game when a pitch from Tanner Rainey in the last of the seventh bounced up and hit him in the neck.

Martinez said he should be fine for Monday.

“We know we have a tough series,” Nationals pitcher Anibal Sanchez said of Philadelphia.

The father of two young children, Sanchez recorded the 100th win of his major league career on Sunday as he allowed two runs on six hits in six innings.

“It is a special day,” Sanchez said, with one of his children at his feet in the clubhouse.

Before Sunday’s game, the Nationals sent struggling reliever Kyle Barraclough (6.39 ERA) to the 10-day injured list with right radial nerve irritation and called up infielder Adrian Sanchez to give the club more options on the bench.

Acquired in a trade prior to this season, Barraclough was supposed to be an eighth-inning bridge to closer Sean Doolittle. But he has allowed seven homers in 25 1/3 innings after he posted a 3.21 in his first four seasons with Miami.

“We’ve just got to get Barraclough fixed, per se, and ready to go,” Martinez said. “We’ve still got a lot of games left. Hopefully this is not a long-term thing and he can come back and help us win games.”

The Washington bullpen had the worst ERA in the majors in the first several weeks of the season. The relievers were strong during a recent two-week stretch, then gave up four runs in four innings Saturday and three in three innings Sunday.

The Nationals had won 12 of 16 before the Arizona series, but lost 5-0 on Thursday and then 10-3 on Saturday as starter Stephen Strasburg gave up four homers.

Washington was victimized this weekend by Arizona outfielder Ketel Marte, who hit two homers off Strasburg and then went deep in the first inning Sunday against Sanchez.

“He is an amazing player who is getting better,” Arizona manager Tony Lovullo said. “He is on an amazing run.”

Marte had 14 homers last season and already has 20 this season. He had three more hits Sunday and lifted his average to .286.

Now the Washington pitching staff will turn its attention to the Phillies and Harper, who has 12 homers and is hitting .247. The outfielder batted .249 with 34 homers last year for Washington.

Lefty Patrick Corbin (5-5, 4.11), who has struggled in his past three starts, will face the Phillies‘ Jake Arrieta (6-5, 4.31) in the first game of the series on Monday. Arrieta has posted just one win in 14 career starts against the Nationals.

The Nationals will start Erick Fedde (1-1, 3.68) on Tuesday against Zach Eflin (6-6, 2.81). Max Scherzer (5-5, 2.81) will oppose former Nationals farmhand Nick Pivetta (5-1, 5.00) on Wednesday, and Stephen Strasburg (7-4, 3.75) will oppose ace Aaron Nola (6-1, 4.89) of the Phillies on Thursday. All games are slated to start at 7:05 p.m.

“Keep swinging the bats and compete tomorrow,” Martinez said Sunday.

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