Tonight’s series opener against the Philadelphia Phillies (56-89) was a game where the Washington Nationals (73-70) could not seem to hold a lead. They had the lead four different times, but the Philiies kept rallying back, including a game tying home run in the tenth against former Philadelphia closer, Jonathan Papelbon. However, the Nats were able to score the deciding run in the 11th to win the game, 8-7. While Papelbon was the headline coming into the game, it was Jayson Werth, another former Phillie, who stole the show with two home runs and five RBI’s.
On the very first pitch of the night, the Washington Nationals scored first when Anthony Rendon hit a solo shot to left center against Philadelphia starter, Aaron Nola. Rendon’s fifth home run of the season gave the Nats an early 1-0 lead. The Phillies would answer back in the bottom of the second when Ryan Howard hit a solo shot of his own to right field. The game was tied at one on Howard’s 23rd home run of the year.
As the game shifted to the top of the third, Bryce Harper got involved in the home run fun. With two outs, Harper hit a solo shot to right field for his 37th home run of the year. The Nats would take a 2-1 lead, but Philadelphia would tie it in the bottom of the inning. With two outs and Cameron Rupp on second, Freddy Galvis lined a ball off Ian Desmond’s glove and into center field for a base hit. Rupp came around to score and the game was tied at two.
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In the top of the fifth, Jordan Zimmermann singled to center with one out. After Rendon struck out, Escobar and Harper picked up singles of their own to load the bases. That set the stage for Jayson Werth as he crushed a 0-2 pitch fastball into the seats in left field for a grand slam. Werth’s eighth home run of the season gave the Nats a 6-2 lead. Normally, a four run lead is safe with Zimmermann on the mound, but the Phillies would rally in the sixth. With runners at the corners and one out, Darnell Sweeney singled to right to drive in Brian Bogusevic to cut the lead to 6-3.
On the next batter, Cody Asche drove a 1-1 pitch over the fence in right center for a three-run homer. Asche’s ninth of the season tied the game at six. Zimmermann went six innings, gave up six runs on seven hits, struck out eight, and walked one on 94 pitches (63 strikes) in the no-decision.
The game would eventually go to extra innings. In the top of the tenth, with one out, Werth hit his second home run of the game and tenth home run of the year off of Dalier Hinojosa to put the Nats in front 7-6. Jonathan Papelbon would come in to try to close out the game, but Galvis lead off the bottom of the tenth with a solo shot to right, which tied the game at seven. It was Galvis’ seventh home run of the season and Papelbon’s first blown save of the year.
The top of the 11th began when Danny Espinosa (pinch-hitting for Papelbon) drew a walk against Luis Garcia (3-5, 3.90 ERA). After a wild pitch, Rendon hit an infield single up the middle for his fourth hit of the night. With runners on the corners, Yunel Escobar hit a ground ball to second, but the throw by Andres Blanco to the plate was late and low, which allowed Espinosa to score and the Nats to take a 8-7 lead.
Doug Fister entered the game to try and close it out in the bottom of the 11th as he made his first appearance since September 1. Fister did walk Rupp to begin the inning, but he struck out the next two batters and got Galvis to fly out to left to end the game. It is Fister’s first save of his career. Despite blowing the save, Papelbon (4-2, 1.99) picked up his fourth win of the season.
Next Game: The Washington Nationals will continue their three game series against the Philadelphia Phillies tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park. You can catch the game on MASN2 at 7:05 PM ET. Stephen Strasburg (8-7, 4.30) gets the start for the Nats against David Buchanan (2-8, 9.11) for the Phillies.