Soriano gives up two homers; Nats fall in 11

Nats squander five-run lead and lose chance to pad NL East lead

Soriano gives up two homers; Nats fall in 11

WASHINGTON -- Rafael Soriano's problems continued Friday night, and now the closer's job might be in jeopardy -- at least for a few days.

The second half has not been kind to the Washington closer. He blew his fifth save since the All-Star break, giving up two ninth-inning home runs that let the Phillies force extra innings. Philadelphia later scored twice in the 11th to pull out a 9-8 victory at Nationals Park, but the continued problems of Soriano seemed the big topic of conversation afterward.

Nationals manager Matt Williams said after the game that they're going to "address" the closer situation. Soriano had a 1-0 record with an 0.97 ERA in the first half, converting 22 of 24 save opportunities. Since the All-Star break, Soriano is 3-1 with a 6.98 ERA -- finishing just nine of 14 saves.

"We need to address it; it's not an easy decision," Williams said. "We want to be able to close those games out. Sori understands that. He's been around the block."

Soriano came into the game with a 7-4 lead in the ninth. He gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Ruiz and then got to one strike from the victory when Ben Revere hit a solo homer on a 2-2 pitch for his second homer of the season and his career. That tied the game at 7, ended the closer's night and brought out boos from the home crowd.

"I was trying to put a good swing on the ball, possibly drive it to hit either a double or triple," said Revere, who finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs. "I wasn't thinking home run. It's crazy. I wasn't expecting to do something like that."

Williams said both homers came off sliders, and they'll discuss all of this tomorrow, and see who will be the closer and how they'll do it.

"[He'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," Williams said.

Soriano also clearly was puzzled by his recent problems. He now has blown saves in two straight games and wants to see what's causing him to have so many problems.

"I know I have to do it better," Soriano said. "I got to figure it out. I feel bad tonight because we lost. Come back tomorrow and be ready and see what happens."

The Nationals (79-60) appeared in good shape early. Starter Stephen Strasburg gave up just one run on four hits in six innings before battling the beginnings of a blister on a finger on a hot and muggy Washington night. That's one reason Williams pulled him after six. He had a 5-1 lead and had thrown 95 pitches.

"I felt good; I felt strong," Strasburg said. "It's a tough blow for us, but there's always tomorrow."

Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer in the first to give Washington an early lead. Wilson Ramos added a sacrifice fly in the fourth off starter Jerome Williams before Anthony Rendon stretched the lead to 5-0 with a two-run double in the fifth.

The Phillies slowly began to rally, starting with Revere's RBI double off Strasburg in the sixth. Ryan Howard belted a solo homer off Xavier Cedeno in the seventh to make it 5-2. Jayson Werth (RBI double) and LaRoche (sacrifice fly) knocked in runs in the seventh to make it 7-2 before the Phillies scored seven straight runs.

They got two in the eighth before the two home runs in the ninth forced extra innings. In the 11th, Domonic Brown reached on left fielder Bryce Harper's two-base error. Harper collided with center fielder Denard Span -- who got his 1,000th career hit earlier in the night and finished 3-for-5 -- and the ball fell to the ground.

"It's just one of those ones where I think I could get it, and I got to the point where I thought I could get it," Harper said. "He called it and we bump into each other. Center-field priority, of course, and you know, I got to get out of there."

Ruiz bunted Brown over to third. Maikel Franco, who got his first Major League hit in the third, fisted a slow grounder to first baseman Tyler Moore. He tried to make a play at the plate, but Brown scored and Moore's wild throw allowed Franco to move to second. He then scored on Revere's single off Jerry Blevins to make it 9-7. Craig Stammen (4-5) started the inning and took the loss.

Jake Diekman (4-4) had escaped a jam for the Phillies in the 10th, and Jonathan Papelbon came on in the 11th to earn his 34th save. It wasn't easy, as Moore got an RBI single to make it 9-8 and put runners on first and second with one out. Papelbon then struck out Ian Desmond before Harper sliced a shot to left that Brown raced to catch to end the game.

The Nationals appeared headed for an easy win for much of this game but instead were left with a tough loss and questions about their closer. Will it still be Soriano? Or Drew Storen? Or Tyler Clippard?

"We have multiple options, which is a good thing for us," Williams said. "[We have] guys who have been there. We've got guys that have done it before."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.