Semien, Perez help Rangers win 2-1 to sweep NL-champ Phillies

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Marcus Semien drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the fifth inning. Josh Jung homered and the Texas Rangers completed a season-opening series sweep of the defending NL champion Philadelphia Phillies with a 2-1 victory.

Martin Perez (1-0) allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings to win his season debut after setting career marks for ERA and strikeouts last season. Perez left with runners on first and second before Brock Burke, the first of three Texas relievers, retired Cristian Pache on a first-pitch foul out down the first-base line.

Jonathan Hernandez got five outs and Will Smith pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his first save of the season. Perez gave up eight hits, walked three and struck out seven to help the Rangers to their first 3-0 start since 2011 – when they won their second straight AL pennant.

The Rangers, under first-year manager Bruce Bochy, are also three games over .500 for the first time since August 2019.

“The whole weekend, we executed so well,” Bochy said. “The guys just did a great job of picking each other up.”

Jung gave Texas a 1-0 lead when he led off the second inning with an opposite-field home run off Bailey Falter (0-1), who gave up both runs by the Rangers on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Philadelphia tied it in the fourth inning when Josh Harrison’s double-play grounder brought home Nick Castellanos.

The Phillies, who won last year’s NL pennant from the last wild-card position, are 0-3 for the first time since losing their first four games in 2016. They left eight runners on base, were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position, struck out eight times and hit into three double plays.

“That’s baseball, guys,” Falter said. “It’s always tough, but we’ve got a great group of guys. We’re going to bounce back.”

Sunday’s one-run loss followed defeats of 11-7 and 16-3 that saw Texas tie for the second-most runs scored in a team’s first two games.

“Tonight was a better ballgame,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We played well. All in all, it’s encouraging.”


Phillies DH Kyle Schwarber, who led the National League last season with 46 home runs, got off to an 0-for-12 start this year before singling in the seventh. After striking out in his first two at-bats, Schwarber launched a 416-foot shot to dead center that would have been a homer in most ballparks but was caught by Adolis Garcia at the top of the wall.

“It was good to see him square up two balls those last two at-bats and finally get a base hit,” Thomson said.


“If we keep making regular plays, we’re going to win a lot of games,” said Perez, who returned to Texas a year ago on a one-year contract, made the All-Star team for the first time and now is signed through 2024.

But the Rangers also made some outstanding fielding plays: Garcia’s grab to rob Schwarber, a running basket catch in the eighth inning by Garcia and a basket catch by shortstop Corey Seager with his back to the plate in the ninth.


Phillies: LHP Ranger Suarez (left forearm tenderness), out until at least late April, threw a bullpen Sunday that went well, Thomson said.


Phillies: RHP Taijuan Walker, who signed as a free agent last December, will make his Phillies debut Monday night against New York Yankees LHP Nestor Cortes to begin a three-game road series.

Rangers: RHP Jon Gray, the club’s opening day starter last season, will open a three-game home series against Baltimore on Monday night against RHP Kyle Bradish.

Nationals blow 6-run lead, rebound to beat Phillies 8-7

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WASHINGTON (AP) Lane Thomas singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals sent the Philadelphia Phillies to their fifth straight loss, winning 8-7 after blowing a six-run lead.

The defending NL champion Phillies have just five victories in their last 18 games and are tied with the Nationals at the bottom of the NL East at 25-32.

“We’ve got to overcome it,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We’ve got to play better, get consistent in all phases and keep moving forward.”

Alex Call drew a two-out walk against Connor Brogdon (2-1) in the eighth, stole second on a low pitch that catcher JT Realmuto couldn’t make a throw on and scored on Thomas’ single to right center.

“The way Lane’s swinging the bat, if you can get on second base, we can win the game,” Call said. “I look over and the ball’s in the dirt, he doesn’t catch it. Now I’m saying: ‘All right, Lane. Come on!’”

Kyle Finnegan (3-2) pitched 1 2/3 innings for the victory, stranding the tying run on second in the ninth.

Nick Castellanos homered twice, singled, doubled and drove in five runs for Philadelphia, which had scored just three runs in its past three games.

“There’s definitely a lot of positives as a group,” Castellanos said. “Showing some fight. It would have been really, really easy to lay down and allow the way the game started to be the way that it finished.”

Down 7-1 after four innings, Philadelphia tied it at 7 in the eighth. Brandon Marsh worked a nine-pitch walk against Mason Thompson leading off, and Drew Ellis singled with one out. Finnegan came on to face Kyle Schwarber, who hit a ground ball up the middle. Shortstop CJ Abrams fielded it behind it behind second base, touched second for one out, but threw wildly to first and Marsh came home with the tying run.

Castellanos’s second homer, a two-run shot to center in the sixth, pulled the Phillies to 7-3 and Marsh added an RBI single in the inning.

In the seventh, Schwarber doubled with one out and Bryson Scott reached on an infield single. Hunter Harvey came on and walked Bryce Harper to load the bases. Castellanos singled to center scoring two runs to make it 7-6.

Luis Garcia homered and Jeimer Candelario doubled twice and drove in three runs for the Nationals, who have won seven of 12.

Philadelphia starter Zack Wheeler, coming off eight shutout innings against Atlanta, allowed seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

“This one’s on me really,” Wheeler said. “Guys battled back. Just couldn’t finish it out. We know who we have in this room and what we’ve got to do.”

Josiah Gray gave up four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings for Washington.

Candelario doubled just beyond the reach of left fielder Schwarber to drive in the first of Washington’s two runs in the first.

In the second, Abrams hit a one-out drive to deep center that Marsh misplayed into a double. With two outs and two on, Candelario doubled off the wall in right center to make it 5-0.

Garcia ended Wheeler’s night with a solo homer in the fourth.

“When you come out the way we did, you’ve got to tack on,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It didn’t happen tonight, but we got one more than the other guys.”


Candelario is 9 for 26 (.346) with four doubles, a home run, nine RBIs, five walks, and seven runs scored in his last seven games.


Phillies: Thomson said RHP Taijuan Walker played catch Friday and there are “no worries about his next start.” In a four-inning outing against the Mets on Thursday, Walker’s sinker velocity averaged 90.6 mph, down from 92.7 mph for the season. His fastball, splitter and curveball velocity also dropped.

Nationals: OF Victor Robles (back spasms) took batting practice on the field for the first time since going on the injured list. … LHP Sean Doolittle (elbow) gave up a run on two hits and struck out two batters in 2/3 of an inning working his second straight night for Class A Fredericksburg.


Phillies: LHP Matt Strahm (4-3, 3.20) will start a bullpen game on Saturday.

Nationals: LHP MacKenzie Gore (3-3, 3.57) went seven innings and struck out a career-high 11 batters in his previous outing – a no decision against the Royals.

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