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Nationals hope to bounce back against Phillies

Sep 6, 2014 - 12:45 PM ( - The Washington Nationals may have a solid lead atop the National League East, but they also could have an issue in their bullpen.

The Nats try to move past a rough loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday afternoon when the clubs resume a three-game series.

Washington led by five runs going into the eighth inning of last night's opener, but Philadelphia plated a pair of runs in the frame and then put up three runs in the ninth off Nats closer Rafael Soriano, who gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Ruiz and a game-tying solo shot with two outs to Ben Revere.

Revere then drove in a run during Philadelphia's two-run 11th inning, giving his club a 9-8 win.

"It's crazy. I wasn't expecting to do something like that," said Revere, who hit only the second home run of his career and leads the National League with a .316 average.

Revere went 3-for-5 and Ryan Howard homered in Philadelphia's third victory in four games. Jonathan Papelbon gave up a run-scoring single to Tyler Moore in the bottom of the 11th, but retired two straight after that to close out his 34th save.

Soriano, meanwhile, blew his seventh save of the campaign. He has saved 31 games, but has a 3.04 earned run average over 58 games and has allowed a run in four of his last five appearances.

"(Soriano's) been struggling a little bit, so we'll have to look to land him a little softer, maybe for a few days, and see where we're at," Nationals manager Matt Williams said.

Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer and ended with three RBI for the Nationals, who remained seven games ahead of the Braves for first place in the NL East.

The Nationals have homered in 13 straight games, a club record since they moved to Washington.

Tanner Roark looks to avoid a third straight losing start today for Washington.

Roark's mini-slump began on Aug. 25 with a loss to the Phillies even though he gave up two runs over six innings. The righty was then bested by Seattle on Sunday, charged with four runs and 11 hits over 6 1/3 frames.

The 27-year-old had a 3-1 lead going into the fifth inning, when he gave up a three-run homer to Dustin Ackley.

"Threw a fastball, I cut it a little bit and it was right in his sweet spot," Roark said.

Roark is 12-9 with a 2.91 ERA this year and 2-2 lifetime versus the Phillies with a 4.74 ERA in four games (3 starts).

A.J. Burnett should be glad to see the Nationals today as he tries to avoid his 16th loss of the campaign.

Burnett halted a five-start losing streak with a win over Washington on Aug. 25 in which he allowed one run over seven innings while striking out 12. That improved him to 3-2 with a 4.13 ERA in five starts against the Nats on the year.

"It felt good to get back on the horse tonight," said Burnett. "It's the first time I felt like 'me' tonight in a long time."

However, the 37-year-old righty fell back into his losing ways on Sunday against the New York Mets, yielding five runs over six innings with eight strikeouts in a 6-5 loss.

Burnett fell to 7-15 with a 4.40 ERA on the season.

The Phillies grabbed a slim 9-8 edge in the season series with Friday's win.