Ranger Suarez' move from the bullpen to the starting rotation is off to a good start.
So is the Phillies' four-game series in Washington.
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The Phils rallied for five runs in the top of the ninth inning to pull out a 7-5 win over the Nationals on Monday night and in doing so gained ground on the first-place New York Mets, who lost to the Marlins. The Phils (53-53) are 2½ games back in the NL East.
The Phils trailed 3-2 entering the ninth inning. Ronald Torreyes and Travis Jankowski both singled against Washington reliever Gabe Klobosits with no outs in the inning. Wander Suero came in and allowed a game-tying double to right-center to Jean Segura.
After an intentional walk to Bryce Harper loaded the bases, J.T. Realmuto put the Phils ahead with a two-run single. The Phils scored two more runs in the inning, one on a hit by Alec Bohm.
Realmuto has six RBIs in the last two games.
Suarez, making the move from closer to starter, was limited to three innings as he adjusts to his new role. He did not allow a hit or a run while walking one and striking out one.
Hector Neris followed Suarez' three scoreless innings with two of his own and the Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning on a solo homer by Odubel Herrera.
The rest of the Phillies' bullpen did not pitch nearly as well. Even newcomer Ian Kennedy allowed a two-run homer in the ninth as the Nats cut the Phils' lead from four runs to two.
Enyel De Los Santos allowed a game-tying homer to Andrew Stephenson in the sixth.
The Phillies loaded the bases with one out in the seventh and took a 2-1 lead on a wild pitch. However, they got nothing else in the inning as Washington left fielder Yadiel Hernandez gunned down Harper trying to score from third on a fly ball to shallow left.
Washington built on that defensive play and scored two in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. Jose Alvarado allowed a pair of hits in the inning then walked Tres Barrera with one out to load the bases.
Joe Girardi brought in Archie Bradley for pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman, a longtime Phillies killer. Zimmerman delivered a two-run single to left on a 2-1 curveball to give the Nats a 3-2 lead.
Zimmerman has 114 RBIs in 208 career games against the Phillies.
Though Suarez made his first start in the big leagues since September 30, 2018, the experience was not new to him. He was groomed as a starter in the minor leagues and made 82 starts as a Phillies farmhand. Even while he was making 71 appearances out of the bullpen from 2018 to 2021, he always hoped to one day get an opportunity to start regularly in the majors. That chance is here now. On Friday, Dave Dombrowski, the team's president of baseball operations, said if Suarez were moved to the rotation he would stay in the role the remainder of the season and not be shuffled back and forth to the bullpen.
Suarez has a good start to build on.