PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Phillies added veteran Jose Bautista for his potent bat, but it’s the confidence he displayed on Wednesday night that might help even more.
Bautista had the go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to an 8-6 victory over the Washington Nationals.
Carlos Santana hit a grand slam and Roman Quinn tripled and had three hits for the Phillies, who entered 4 1/2 games behind the Braves in the NL East. Philadelphia avoided a three-game sweep while winning for just the third time in the last 11 games.
“He’s an absolute calming presence,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said of Bautista. “He has a quiet, smooth confidence that resonates in the dugout and wears off on everyone around him.”
Bautista, acquired from the New York Mets a day earlier, made a winner of Seranthony Dominguez (2-5) when his two-out, opposite-field single off Jimmy Cordero (1-1) scored Cesar Hernandez to snap a 6-all tie. Dominguez pitched a scoreless seventh.
Being in a tough spot in the middle of a pennant race doesn’t faze the 37-year-old Bautista, a six-time All-Star with 342 career homers.
“I’m not scared,” he said. “I’ve played enough games to where every time I’d place a bet on myself if I need to. That’s just my attitude. It’s not a reflection that I’m better than anybody else. I’m a competitor and you have to have that mind-set.”
Bautista reached base in all four of his plate appearances, drawing a pair of walks and getting hit by a pitch in addition to the single.
“I’m just hoping to contribute,” he said. “I’m out there trying to get my job done.”
Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto went deep for the Nationals, who had won three straight.
“The boys are playing hard, with a lot of intensity, a lot of energy,” manager Dave Martinez said. “Come back Friday and let’s go after it.”
Tommy Hunter tossed two scoreless innings while facing just five hitters for third save.
Hunter was the last of seven Phillies relievers.
“Somewhat heroic, starting with Tommy Hunter and working back,” Kapler said of the bullpen.
Hunter helped the Phillies escape a jam in the eighth. Wilmer Difo led off with a single off Pat Neshek and Bryce Harper, pinch-hitting after not starting due to sickness, walked against Luis Avilan. Kapler brought on Hunter, the eighth Phillies pitcher and third in the inning, with runners on first and second and no outs. Hunter got pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds to fly out before Adam Eaton grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Hunter’s mind-set was simple.
“Get outs, that’s it,” he said.
Rhys Hoskins’ two-out RBI double in the bottom of the eighth gave the Phillies a two-run cushion.
Santana’s two-out drive to center in the fifth put Philadelphia on top 6-5. It was his third career grand slam and first since Sept. 18, 2015.
The Nationals, after giving up a pair of runs in the second, scored five straight to take a three-run lead. Soto hit a two-run homer to left as part of Washington’s four-run third inning for his 16th of the season, and the 19-year-old tied Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth all-time for home runs by a teenager.
More shoddy defense helped the Nationals tie the game in the sixth. Difo singled, went to second on a passed ball by Wilson Ramos and scored on pinch-hitter Andrew Stevenson’s one-out single to right. It was the 58th unearned run of the season against the Phillies, who have been plagued by mistakes all season — and especially during their slump.
Philadelphia entered tied with the Cardinals with a major-league worst 102 errors, two of which came in Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to Washington. That game ended when pitcher Vince Velasquez, pinch-running in the ninth, was called out for leaving second base too early while trying to tag up on a fly ball to center.
Arrieta was lifted after just three innings, matching his shortest outing of the season, after giving up four runs and four hits on 75 pitches.
Gio Gonzalez allowed six runs and six hits in five innings for Washington.
Nationals: C Matt Wieters left after the eighth inning with back spasms but expects to play on Friday. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (wrist), who has been sidelined since Aug. 16, threw 30 pitches in the bullpen on Wednesday. Hellickson could expand his bullpen session on Saturday if he doesn’t experience discomfort from Wednesday’s session.
Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (8-13, 3.95) starts Friday when Washington begins a home series against the Brewers.
Phillies: RHP Nick Pivetta (7-10, 4.76) goes in the opener of a three-game home set against the Cubs on Friday, facing LHP Jose Quintana (11-9, 4.33).
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)