Mr. 1,000: Werth's milestone hit lifts Nats past Phils
Right fielder's two-run shot helps club complete comeback in seventh
WASHINGTON -- Outfielder Jayson Werth collected his 1,000th career hit Saturday night, and it was a big one. His two-run homer in a five-run seventh inning gave the Nationals the lead for good in an 8-5 win over the Phillies at Nationals Park. Werth went 3-for-5 and drove in three runs.
Werth has been the hottest hitter for Washington since coming back from a hamstring injury on June 2, going 70-for-198 (.354) with 13 home runs, 38 RBIs and a .430 on-base percentage.
"He is out there raking right now. I'm trying to touch his bat so I can get some hits in there," teammate Bryce Harper said. "He is doing an unbelievable job to lead this team. It's a lot of fun to watch. He hits against unbelievable pitchers. I've seen him do his thing."
The Nationals were down, 4-3, when they scored their five runs off two Phillies relievers. With a runner on third and left-hander Jake Diekman on the mound, manager Davey Johnson surprised Philadelphia by pulling a safety squeeze with Harper at the plate. Harper ended up bunting into a force play, but Steve Lombardozzi scored to make it a 4-4 game.
"[Third-base coach Trent Jewett] gave me a safety squeeze during the first pitch and then he gave it to me again. I swung, so that wasn't good," Harper said. "And then I said, 'Maybe you should lay one down.' He gave me the safety squeeze and put it down and got the game tied up. Thankfully, it fell in front of [second baseman Chase] Utley and got that run."
Right-hander Zach Miner entered the game and, on the first pitch, Werth hit a two-run homer over the left-field wall, his 17th of the season, to take a 6-4 lead.
Werth came out for a curtain call, and one can imagine how he felt when he came out of the dugout. It seemed like yesterday when the fans jeered Werth for having the worst season of his career in 2011. Now, Werth is having his best season as a member of the Nationals.
"Anytime you gain respect from the fans and from the city, it's definitely a good thing," Werth said. "That first season was tough for everybody, more so for myself than anyone else. Last year with the [wrist] injury, it has been a tough road, but I'm excited for the future here in Washington. I'm glad that the city and the fans can see what I'm all about. I think the best is still yet to come."
Werth didn't even know that he was close to the milestone until he was in the video room after his third at-bat and talking to batting practice pitcher Ali Modami.
"I had no idea until right before [the at-bat]. It's definitely a milestone," Werth said. "You set out playing this game how many years ago -- that is one thing. It's one of the benchmarks of things you want to accomplish. It was good."
And how did Werth feel about reaching the milestone against his former team?
"You can take accomplishments as you can get them," he said. "I spent a lot of time with those guys. I have a lot of memories, and a lot of those hits along the way came in Philly and with those guys. I'm sure they were not as happy to see it as I was."
The scoring didn't stop after Werth's home run. Washington had the bases loaded when Anthony Rendon singled to left field, scoring Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche.
The Nats' bullpen held the Phillies to one run in four innings. Tanner Roark picked up his first Major League victory, pitching two scoreless innings, while Rafael Soriano saved his 29th game of the season.
"It felt great. A good come-from-behind win. It was a great team effort. The bats came alive and it was awesome to watch," Roark said.
Right-hander Taylor Jordan started the game for Washington. He pitched five innings and allowed four runs, with all four coming in the second inning. With a runner on first, Darin Ruf hit a two-run homer over the left-field wall to give Philadelphia the early lead.
Cody Asche then scored on a fielder's choice when Phillies starter Cliff Lee bunted the ball toward Taylor, who tried to get Asche out at the plate, but Asche scored the third run of the game. Michael Martinez scored the fourth run of the game on a single by Jimmy Rollins.
"Our start was good," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We were into the game. We jumped out and we got a lead, but we couldn't score. [Roark] did a good job, a heck of a job. It's tough."
The Nationals started to make their comeback in the fourth inning against Lee. Ryan Zimmerman scored on a single by Werth, while Werth scored on a groundout by LaRoche.
Two innings later, Werth scored on a single by catcher Wilson Ramos.
It was obvious that Johnson enjoyed watching his team score runs and get its second straight victory.
"Well, that was fun," Johnson said. "The mood in the clubhouse got a lot better and I got a lot smarter. But what a night Jayson had. A home run for his 1,000th hit. It was exciting. Roark got his first win. He threw the ball well again. A lot of good things."