The Phillies came back from the All-Star break Friday night and quickly lost more ground to a team ahead of them in the National League East.
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The Phillies lost 4-0 to the Washington Nationals on Fireworks Night at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phils had eight hits, but just one for extra bases - a one-out double by Maikel Franco in the second inning.
The third-place Phils now trail the second-place Nats by 1 ½ game in the NL East. Atlanta entered the night with a six-game lead in the division. The Braves were playing a late game at San Diego.
In late May, the Phils led the division by 3 ½ games over Atlanta and 10 games over Washington. The Phils have lost 22 of their last 36 games while Washington, the hottest team in baseball, has gone 29-11 since May 24.
On the mound
The Phillies' starting pitching problems continued as Nick Pivetta lasted just five innings. (He threw 87 pitches). He allowed three runs, two on three singles and a walk in the second inning.
Starter Stephen Strasburg led the Nationals with six shutout innings. He gave up seven hits, walked one and struck out six.
Strasburg is 13-2 with a 2.62 ERA in 26 career starts against the Phillies.
The Phillies acquired Pivetta four years ago this month from Washington in a trade for Jonathan Papelbon. Pivetta has had his problems with the Nationals. In his career, he is 1-7 with a 10.06 ERA against them.
To deal or not to deal
Club president Andy MacPhail offered his take on how the Phillies will approach the trade deadline (see story).
An X-ray confirmed the presence of a bone spur in Jake Arrieta's right elbow. He will continue to pitch and make his next start on Sunday afternoon.
Arrieta was to face Washington ace Max Scherzer, but he was scratched with back soreness. Anibal Sanchez will make the start Sunday.
Arrieta admitted that he received a fine from Major League Baseball for threatening to dent Todd Frazier's skull last weekend. Arrieta said the fine was in the neighborhood of $2,500. Arrieta made the threat to reporters after last Saturday's game between the Phillies and Mets (see story).
J.T. Realmuto missed the game while on paternity leave. He is expected back Saturday. Andrew Knapp started at catcher. The Phils added Rob Brantly from Triple A as the backup catcher. To make room for Brantly on the 40-man roster, the Phils transferred reliever Pat Neshek to the 60-day injured list. Neshek is out with a hamstring tear. He is not expected back until September, if at all.
The Phillies will send Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.74) to the mound on Saturday night. He will oppose lefty Patrick Corbin (7-5, 3.34).
Nola is on a brilliant roll. Over his last four starts, he is 2-1 with a 0.61 ERA. He has allowed just 14 hits and two earned runs in 29 2/3 innings over that span. He has struck out 34 and walked eight.
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