Phillies-Nationals Observations: Hoskins Goes Deep as Phils Hold Off Nats

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WASHINGTON -- Rhys Hoskins homered again and drew three walks and Mark Leiter Jr. notched the pitching victory as the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals, 5-4, on Saturday night.

The Phillies got strong bullpen work from Edubray Ramos, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris in making a one-run lead stand up in the late innings. Neris got the final two outs with the potential tying run on second.

• Leiter Jr. allowed four runs over six innings and left with a 5-4 lead. Leiter took a two-run lead to the mound in the sixth and allowed a pair of no-out singles, prompting a visit from pitching coach Bob McClure. Leiter then retired the next two batters on fly balls to center. He then gave up an RBI single to Michael A. Taylor as the Nats pulled to within a run before retiring pinch-hitter Adam Lind for the final out.

• Reliever Ramos has pitched well -- and with a lot of confidence -- since coming back from the minors. He registered a pair of strikeouts in protecting a one-run lead in the seventh. His second strikeout came on a hard-biting breaking ball to the dangerous Howie Kendrick and stranded the potential tying run at second. Ramos has struck out 23 and walked just five in 16 2/3 innings since coming back from Triple A. He has the stuff to be a force late in games. Lately, he has been.

• Reliever Garcia struck out the side in the eighth, getting three tough customers in Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon with a combination of fastballs and hard sliders. One of Garcia's fastballs registered 100 mph. Garcia has long had a great arm and tantalized Phillies officials with his potential. The team's patience with him might pay off. He has allowed just one run in his last 14 appearances and just eight in his last 39 innings.

• The Phillies got solo home runs from Hoskins and Maikel Franco in the second inning. Hoskins was on base four times with the homer and three walks. His bases-loaded walk in the fourth delivered a run. He also stole his first base as a big-leaguer. He had just 19 steals in 455 games in the minors.

• Hoskins has 14 homers in 30 big-league games. That's the most homers ever by a player who made his big-league debut after August 1.

• Franco has homered in two straight games since being held out of the starting lineup three straight games.

• Odubel Herrera had a tough night. He left seven men on base and saw his 21-game hitting streak end. That was the longest in the majors this season.

• J.P. Crawford did not start after playing the previous four games, three at third base and one at shortstop. He could get his first start at second base on Sunday. Crawford pinch-hit in the eighth inning against Joe Blanton and stuck out on a breaking ball.

• Aaron Atherr has been cleared to play. In fact, he entered as a defensive sub in left field in the ninth inning. Manager Pete Mackanin said there was a possibility Altherr would start in the outfield on Sunday afternoon, which is good news for fans who've been clamoring to see him play over Hyun Soo Kim. Altherr has not had an at-bat since August 4 when he went on the disabled list with a hamstring strain.

• Heard a couple of Eagles chants in the stands. The Birds, of course, open up down this way Sunday. (Personal note: Hope the Birds go undefeated, but it's must-see TV when Michael B. goes nuts on the postgame show after they lose.)

• Rookie Ben Lively (3-5, 3.92) pitches against Washington's Stephen Strasburg in the series finale on Sunday afternoon. Strasburg is 12-4 with a 2.78 ERA in 24 starts. Over his last three starts, he has worked 21 scoreless innings, walked just two and struck out 23. It won't be an easy assignment for the Phillies.

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