WASHINGTON (AP) — Aaron Hicks’ go-ahead two-run homer sparked chants of “Let’s go, Yankees!” on the road and helped New York beat Washington 4-2 in the second game of an unusual semi-doubleheader Monday, after pinch-hitter Juan Soto’s tiebreaking two-run shot for the Nationals won the opener 5-3.
These games originally were scheduled more than a month ago, and Game 1 resumed after being suspended because of rain in the middle of the sixth — so technically, Soto managed to homer in a game played before he made his major league debut.
The 19-year-old Soto was called up from the minors for the first time five days after Game 1 started on May 15; it picked back up at 3-all and the Nationals about to bat in the bottom of the sixth. After Bryce Harper — who had a full beard back on May 15, when the game began, but was clean-shaven this time — struck out, and Anthony Rendon singled, Soto drove a 97 mph fastball from Chad Green (4-1) to the back of the second deck in right field.
“I thought he had a good chance to hit the ball hard,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “That was hard.”
It was Soto’s sixth homer since he was brought up from Double-A Harrisburg on May 20 — and second against the Yankees. Soto stood and admired this one before beginning his trot around the bases.
“A pitch right in his hot zone. Soto got us again,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Obviously a really good looking player. Two pretty big shots he’s hit against us.”
Soto also was involved in a double play while playing left in the seventh. Didi Gregorius lined to Soto, and he lobbed the ball to shortstop Trea Turner, who sprinted to second base to double off Gary Sanchez.
Soto’s stats — and all others from Game 1 — will count as being part of the originally scheduled game on May 15, but Soto’s official debut will still be considered to have happened on the actual date it happened, according to the Nationals, citing the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I wish he was climbing the ladder more routinely. He should be in about Double-A now,” Boone said. “What can you say? Nineteen and obviously doing really well.”
Wander Suero (1-0) got the win for 1 1-3 scoreless innings — one inning on May 15, and one out on Monday.
Sean Doolittle struck out Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton and got Gary Sanchez to fly out to center in the ninth for his 18th save.
The Nationals had lost five of six games entering the day.
Game 2, which was completely rained out May 16, began a half-hour after Game 1 finished, and Washington led 2-1 before Hicks’ ninth homer, which came in the fifth against Erick Fedde (0-2) and got plenty of Yankees fans in the sellout crowd of 42,723 excited — and loud.
The rookie righty lost to the Yankees for the second time in less than a week, giving up three runs in 5 1-3 innings this time.
Stanton provided some cushion with an RBI double off Sammy Solis in the seventh on a day the Nationals added relief help by acquiring Kelvin Herrera in a trade with the Kansas City Royals.
Sonny Gray (5-4) allowed two runs in five-plus innings, with Mark Reynolds driving in both, via a groundout in the second and a sacrifice fly in the fourth. Washington put runners on the corners with no outs in the sixth against Gray, but Jonathan Holder came on in relief and got three quick outs, striking out Reynolds and pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy before getting Pedro Severino to pop out.
In the ninth, Aroldis Chapman pitched around Murphy’s double and a walk for his 21st save, getting Turner to fly out to a backpedaling right fielder Aaron Judge to end it.
Harper’s batting average is .212 after he went 0 for 5 on Monday, with two strikeouts, three groundouts and a walk. He has one hit in his last 27 at-bats.
Yankees: OF Brett Gardner didn’t play, a day after an MRI exam showed swelling in his right knee. Boone doesn’t expect Gardner to go on the DL. … With Gardner’s status uncertain, the Yankees recalled OF Clint Frazier from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre and optioned INF Ronald Torreyes there.
Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson, on the DL for two weeks with a strained right hamstring, took fielding practice before the start of play Monday and said he “felt fine.” Hellickson has taken two bullpen sessions and “felt 100 percent,” so expects to be able to return soon. … 1B Matt Adams was “still a little sore” after getting hit by a pitch on a finger Friday and did not play.
The Nationals open a three-game series at home against Baltimore on Tuesday, and Martinez has not announced who his starter will be. The Yankees return to New York for a three-game set against Seattle, with RHP Domingo German (1-4, 5.23 ERA) pitching on Tuesday against Mariners LHP Marco Gonzalez (7-3, 3.42).
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