WASHINGTON: Cameron Rupp roared into second base and pounded his fists on Thursday night (Friday in Manila). The Phillies finally had a run. Rupp’s ninth-inning fly ball had fallen into deep right field, over the reach of Bryce Harper, and scored the winning run in a 3-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.
The Phillies — the team picked to finish as one of baseball’s worst — had shocked the powerful Nationals again, completing a three-game sweep at Nationals Park. It was the first Phillies sweep in the District since May 2009. They had not swept the Nationals at all since August of 2014.
The sweep was even sweeter as the winning run came against former closer Jonathan Papelbon. The Nationals brought in Papelbon with the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth inning. He struck out Darin Ruf on three fastballs. Rupp dug himself into a two-strike hole before battling a fly ball to right.
Harper took a bad route to the ball, allowing it to drop onto the warning track.
The Phillies tacked on a third run as David Lough hit a grounder that bounced off the top of Papelbon’s glove, scoring Maikel Franco from third.
The Phillies kept the Nationals scoreless for the final 22 innings of the series. Aaron Nola was responsible for seven of them. He threw just 77 pitches. It was the third-lowest pitch count of his career. Nola needed just five pitches to retire three batters in the seventh. The pitcher was cruising.
Manager Pete Mackanin lifted him in the eighth for Emmanuel Burriss with one out and the bases empty. Burris tried to reach on a bunt but was out at first. Burriss has just one hit this season in his first 19 at-bats.
Nola kept the Nationals under control with an excellent curveball, which seemed to have a tighter break than normal. He kept the pitch low in the zone and used it to record all seven of his strikeouts. He threw 27 curveballs, 19 of which were strikes. None of his curveballs left the infield. It proved to be unhittable.
Dalier Hinojosa, who relieved Nola, appeared to be out of the eighth inning after retiring two of the first three batters he faced. Matt den Dekker then lined a ball off the pitcher’s right hand. A startled Hinojosa hustled to the ball as it rolled near first. He failed to scoop it with his injured hand and den Dekker was safe.
Elvis Araujo came on in relief and walked the first batter he faced, bringing up Harper with the bases loaded and two outs. Araujo improbably struck out Harper on three pitches, keeping the game scoreless and Harper at bay.