Nationals, Patrick Corbin lose to Phillies after disastrous third inning

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César Hernández should’ve fielded a groundball by Yairo Muñoz to end the top of the third inning. Patrick Corbin should’ve headed to the Washington Nationals’ dugout with confidence — if the play had been made, no Philadelphia Phillies would have reached during his first trip through the order.

Instead, Hernández misplayed the ball; it bounced off the mound and went under his glove, rolling into center field. Then Corbin unraveled, resulting in the Nationals’ 10-1 defeat Thursday night at Nationals Park, Washington’s fifth in a row.

Hernández’s error at second base led to a nightmare for Corbin in which seven Phillies crossed home plate before the inning ended, a result of defensive mishaps and poor pitch location.

Pitchers beware, the Nationals play Phillies in 19 of final 97 games

After Muñoz reached, Kyle Schwarber stepped to the plate. The Nationals are certainly familiar with what he can accomplish in the month of June. He hit 16 home runs last June for Washington, cruising to National League Player of the Month honors before getting injured and then getting traded to the Boston Red Sox in July. His two-run blast off Corbin brought back flashbacks of last summer, but this time he was in a different jersey.

The next five Phillies reached and scored. Rhys Hoskins doubled, Bryce Harper walked, and Nick Castellanos singled to score Hoskins. Washington should’ve escaped the inning trailing 3-0 after J.T. Realmuto hit a groundball to shortstop to Luis García. But García waited on the ball instead of charging aggressively and Realmuto beat his throw, allowing Harper to score. Didi Gregorius then doubled in Castellanos and Realmuto.

Even a mound visit by pitching coach Jim Hickey couldn’t stop the bleeding. Alec Bohm’s second at-bat of the inning resulted in a groundball to first baseman Josh Bell. But Corbin was late getting over to cover the base and Bell’s throw was off the mark, allowing Gregorius to score to make it 7-0. Corbin finally exited the inning by striking out Muñoz two batters later.

In the fourth, Schwarber hit a solo home run and Harper singled two batters later, bouncing Corbin from the game. He exited after 3⅓ innings, a stunning end given the first eight Phillies didn’t hit the ball out of the infield.

Stephen Strasburg can’t pitch — again — so the mind goes to unpleasant places

Once again, the Nationals had to turn to their relievers — this time Andres Machado, Erasmo Ramírez and Reed Garrett — as well as utility man Ehire Adrianza in the ninth to cover more innings than they had hoped. Garrett allowed a solo shot to Muñoz in the eighth.

Who scored the Nationals’ run? Bell had a 417-foot solo shot off Zack Wheeler in the fourth inning, but that was it for Washington. Wheeler yielded four hits and struck out three over seven innings.

Did Juan Soto return to the lineup? He did but went 0 for 4 with three groundouts and a flyout. Soto had missed the previous two games with a right knee contusion but felt good enough to play Thursday. His batting average fell to .224.

Who will pitch in Friday’s day-night doubleheader? Joan Adon will handle the first game, followed by Paolo Espino in the nightcap. Adon, who was optioned to Class AAA Rochester last week, will be the Nationals’ extra man for the doubleheader for two reasons: He’s stretched out and was scheduled to start Friday for the Red Wings. He has a 6.95 ERA in 12 starts in the majors this season.

Espino made his first start of the year Sunday in a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers and pitched 3⅔ innings. Manager Dave Martinez said he’s hoping Espino can throw four or five innings. Lefty Evan Lee is likely to enter in relief against a Phillies lineup featuring powerful lefties.

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