Bryce Harper was hitless in his return from back stiffness and Philadelpia manager Joe Girardi was ejected in the third inning of a 5-1 loss to the Washington Nationals on Monday night that dropped the Phillies back to .500 and hurt their playoff hopes.
A day after striking out with the bases loaded in the seventh off a loss to Toronto and coming out of the game, Harper went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts as the designated hitter, dropping his average to .254.
Third-place Philadelphia, trying for its first postseason appearance since 2011, fell to 27-27 and with six games left dropped behind Cincinnati (28-27) in the race among teams tor two playoff berths among teams that don’t finish first or second. San Francisco (26-26) and Milwaukee (26-27) also are in contention.
Girardi and center fielder Roman Quinn were ejected in the third inning for arguing a call by plate umpire Junior Valentine.
Girardi came out of the dugout to argue after Quinn took a called third strike on an 84 mph splitter from Aníbal Sánchez with a full count. Quinn was replaced by Mickey Moniak, who went to left. Adam Haseley shifted from left to center.
Philadelphia lost to the defending World Series champions for the first time in seven games this season. The Nationals are last in the NL East at 21-32.
Sánchez (3-5) allowed one run and four hits in five innings and combined with four relievers on a six-hitter.
Philadelphia scored its only run in the fifth when Sánchez was called for a balk with Moniak on third.
Zack Wheeler (4-1) gave up three runs — two earned — and five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Asdrúbal Cabrera hit an RBI single in the first, and Washington took a 2-0 lead later in the inning when Brock Holt stole second and catcher Andrew Knapp’s throw got by second baseman Andrew Knapp and into center field for an error that allowed Juan Soto to score from third.
Luis García added an RBI groundout for a 3-1 lead in the fifth, and Brock Holt hit a two-run single in the seventh off Blake Parker.
Philadelphia committed an error and had a runner caught stealing in each of the first two innings. The Phillies finished with three errors.
Phillies: Placed RHP Heath Hembree on the 10-day IL with a right elbow strain. Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2016 amateur draft, was recalled from the alternate training site along with RHP Ramón Rosso. RHP Adonis Medina was optioned to the alternate training site.
Nationals: 3B Carter Kieboom left in the sixth after being hit in the left wrist by Wheeler and was replaced by Josh Harrison. … RHPs James Bourque (right elbow strain) and Aaron Barrett (right triceps strain) were put on the 10-day IL. LHP Seth Romero (broken right hand) was transferred to the 60-day IL … RHP Tanner Rainey (right forearm strain) likely will not pitch again this season. … Paolo Espino’s contract was selected from the alternate training site and OF Yadiel Hernández was recalled.
Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola (5-3, 2.92 ERA) is to start the first game of a doubleheader against Washington on Tuesday.
Nationals: RHP Austin Voth (0-5, 7.17) is to start for Washington.
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