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Murphy sparks Nats with 1st multihit game of '18

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy raised his fist in the air and pumped it with enthusiasm as the ball landed. He had hit a line drive over the head of leaping second baseman Cesar Hernandez and into right field, a two-out two-run single in the eighth inning that nearly wiped away more than week's worth of struggles from the Nationals offense and led them to an 8-6 victory over the Phillies on Sunday night.

The bases-loaded knock carried the Nats to a much needed come-from-behind victory as they avoid being swept by the Phillies for the first time since 2016.

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WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy raised his fist in the air and pumped it with enthusiasm as the ball landed. He had hit a line drive over the head of leaping second baseman Cesar Hernandez and into right field, a two-out two-run single in the eighth inning that nearly wiped away more than week's worth of struggles from the Nationals offense and led them to an 8-6 victory over the Phillies on Sunday night.

The bases-loaded knock carried the Nats to a much needed come-from-behind victory as they avoid being swept by the Phillies for the first time since 2016.

View Full Game Coverage

"I thought it was a huge win," Bryce Harper said. "We don't want to get swept here, lose three straight."

Down a run in the eighth inning, Washington rallied after a leadoff walk from Brian Goodwin and a hustle double from Harper, who clapped his hands and screamed toward his dugout as he slid safely into second base. It was the most emotion Harper has shown in weeks and with three doubles, his best game in weeks. That put runners at second and third with two outs. The Phillies elected to issue an intentional walk to 19-year-old rookie phenom Juan Soto to face Murphy, a three-time All-Star.

"You pick your poison right there," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "You have two very good hitters. The first one, in Soto, has been elite, and Murphy has just struggled a little bit. We went with the guy who's struggling and coming off injury."

Said Nats manager Dave Martinez: "I was pretty surprised."

Video: PHI@WSH: Doolitte fans Herrera and picks up the save

Murphy was runner-up for the National League batting title the past two seasons, but he is still working his way back from microfracture knee surgery and had not looked like the same hitter since he made his season debut on June 12. But he looked like his old self when he connected with a slider from hard-throwing right-hander Seranthony Dominguez to give the Nationals their first lead of the night.

"I was watching some film on him, and he had gotten going with the slider as a killshot to a couple lefties," said Murphy, who went 3-for-4 on the night for his first multihit game of the year. "So once I got to two strikes, I was aware of it. ... Fortunately, I was able to get it in the air enough and kind of scoop it over Cesar's head over there at second base."

Entering Sunday, the Nationals had dropped nine of their past 12 games and were in danger of getting swept by the Phillies to fall further into third place. A large reason for that was their sudden dismal offense, which posted a .645 OPS during that tough stretch.

Down, 2-0, the Nationals began a rally in the fourth inning with four consecutive hits to tie the game against right-hander Nick Pivetta before a rain delay with no outs interrupted that rally. Pivetta returned to the mound 38 minutes later and proceeded to strike out the next three batters.

Video: PHI@WSH: Pivetta K's Taylor, escapes bases-loaded jam

Nats right-hander Jefry Rodriguez, who was making his second career start, did not respond as well to the rain delay. When he returned to the mound after the delay, he allowed the first two batters to reach in the fifth before his night was over, although Sammy Solis promptly gave up a two-run triple to Odubel Herrera. Then, Nick Williams connected with a two-run homer to increase the Phillies lead to 6-2.

Lately, that missed chance would have haunted the Nationals. But they responded again for a three-run sixth inning that included a run-scoring triple from Trea Turner and consecutive RBI doubles from Harper and Anthony Rendon. That set the stage for the comeback in the eighth on a night where the Nationals' offense looked better than it had in weeks.

It's no surprise that charge was led by Harper and Murphy, the Nationals' two struggling stars who are the key to the middle of their order. Whether Sunday night will serve as a turning point remains to be seen, but the magnitude of the victory was not lost after the game.

"I don't know how it will affect us moving forward," Murphy said. "But I can tell you a win heading onto the airplane is a lot sweeter than a loss."

Video: PHI@WSH: Taylor drives in Soto with a single to right

SOUND SMART
Harper doubled in three straight at-bats, giving him multiple extra-base hits in a game for the first time since May 21 against the Padres. It's also the first game of his career with three doubles, and he has six doubles in his last six games.

"I've said it every day, I think getting pitches over the plate, it's huge," Harper said. "I didn't get any pitches over the plate the first at-bat; maybe one or two. Then I chased, and chased again the second at-bat. My swing feels great. I just got to get a pitch over the plate that I can drive."

Video: PHI@WSH: Harper plates Turner with an RBI double

HE SAID IT
"He's been totally engaged. I mean, he really has. In the clubhouse, with us, he's all in. I can't say enough about him. His attitude's been good, but I think today, being rewarded and us playing the way we played, that's what you saw from him. He had some frustrations because he wasn't getting hits and stuff, not getting pitched to. It felt good. it was gratifying" -- Martinez, on Harper's emotions during a three-hit day

UP NEXT
The Nationals will travel to Tampa for a two-game series against the Rays that begins at 7:10 ET on Monday night. Martinez returns to face the team that gave him his start as a bench coach in 2008. The game will also feature a battle of southpaws, as Gio Gonzalez of the Nats matches up against Rays lefty Blake Snell.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy