WASHINGTON — Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff matched Nationals ace Max Scherzer and struck out Bryce Harper swinging three straight times. When Eickhoff left, Harper struck back against Philadelphia’s bullpen.
Harper hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Washington Nationals to a 3-0 victory over the Phillies on Saturday night.
Eickhoff had his way with the 2015 NL Most Valuable Player and the rest of Washington’s lineup. He held the NL East leaders scoreless over six innings, giving up five hits and striking out five.
Harper then provided the game’s only scoring against Patrick Schuster, who threw a wild pitch, issued a walk and gave up the homer without recording an out after replacing fellow reliever Luis Garcia (1-1).
The loss, Philadelphia’s 79th on the season, didn’t diminish Eickhoff’s outing.
“Eickhoff was outstanding again today,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He’s been doing that consistently all year and that was a great, great performance by him.”
The Phillies’ offense was anything but great.
Scherzer gave up four hits in 6 2/3 scoreless innings, and struck out eight to increase his NL lead to 251.
Shawn Kelley (2-2) recorded the final out of the eighth and Mark Melancon pitched ninth for his 40th save as Washington won for the fifth time in six games.
Ben Revere’s single with one out in the eighth started the winning rally against Garcia, who was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley before the game. Daniel Murphy walked before Harper’s homer.
Scherzer wasn’t special throughout — he hit two batters — and labored at times with long innings. He also got clutch outs when needed.
With two runners on and one out in the first, Scherzer induced back-to-back infield pop-ups. He struck out Tommy Joseph to end the third with two runners in scoring position.
“No new news, we just lack offense,” Mackanin said. “We just can’t get anything going offensively and other than that we were in every game.”
Eickhoff’s effective work kept his side in this game.
“You know it’s going to be a battle with Scherzer,” Eickhoff said. “If it’s giving up one or two runs or no runs, you’ve got to find a way to keep him off the board and I was very lucky to be able to do that today.”
Philadelphia’s defense kept the game scoreless in the fourth. Jose Lobaton’s single with runners at first and second sent Clint Robinson around third. Center fielder Odubel Herrera’s throw bounced to home, where catcher Cameron Rupp shielded the plate and tagged out Robinson.
Phillies: 3B Maikel Franco pinch hit in the seventh inning after sitting out the previous two games with a sore right thumb.
Nationals: RHP Joe Ross, on the disabled list since July 3 with right shoulder inflammation, threw 60 pitches during a simulation at Nationals Park Saturday. “(Joe) had good velocity. … Changeup looked like he’d never been out,” manager Dusty Baker said.
Saturday marked the third time the Phillies were shut out by the Nationals this season and the 10th time they were held scoreless overall.
Phillies: LHP Adam Morgan (2-9, 5.90) is 0-2 with a 5.12 ERA in three starts against Washington this season.
Nationals: Gio Gonzalez (10-9, 4.40) allowed six runs and eight hits in three innings in his last start on Monday against the Braves.