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Nats ride Taylor homer past Phillies in opener

MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- On a night the Nationals learned they'd have to wait at least another day to activate Bryce Harper, Michael A. Taylor provided all the pop necessary for a series-opening 3-1 win against the Phillies on Monday at Citizens Bank Park. The win marked Washington's 95th, matching its total from last season.

Taylor crushed starter Aaron Nola's only mistake of the game -- an up-and-in fastball after working a 3-1 hitter's count -- out to left to put Washington up 2-0 early.

Full Game Coverage

PHILADELPHIA -- On a night the Nationals learned they'd have to wait at least another day to activate Bryce Harper, Michael A. Taylor provided all the pop necessary for a series-opening 3-1 win against the Phillies on Monday at Citizens Bank Park. The win marked Washington's 95th, matching its total from last season.

Taylor crushed starter Aaron Nola's only mistake of the game -- an up-and-in fastball after working a 3-1 hitter's count -- out to left to put Washington up 2-0 early.

Full Game Coverage

Video: WSH@PHI: Nola strikes out nine over six strong frames

"We need that," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "[Taylor] had periods like that earlier, and then he got hurt. Then he found his stroke, and then he lost it again. So, we just hopefully need him to find it through the postseason and be hot during the postseason."

Video: WSH@PHI: Baker on Cole's start in 3-1 win

On a quiet night for the Phils' offense, a few runs were all the Nationals needed.

"Our bats have gone silent for a few days now. Not much to talk about," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

That quiet night came courtesy of Nationals starter A.J. Cole, who continued a solid September after spending the better half of August shuttling between Washington and Triple-A Syracuse. The right-hander held the Phillies to a single run over 5 2/3 innings, with five strikeouts and a pair of walks. Since his most recent call-up to begin September, Cole holds a 3.54 ERA in 20 1/3 innings.

Video: WSH@PHI: Cole fans Williams for his fifth strikeout

"I'm just trying to be able to do whatever they need and help out right now," Cole said. "For the most part, I felt pretty good. Certain times, I was a little off. I missed one pitch tonight and then I had some good defense behind me."

Nola's solid start, six innings, five hits, two earned runs with nine strikeouts, was likely his last of what turned into an impressive season for the third-year rotation staple.

"He pitched well enough to win," Mackanin said. "Obviously, he gave that home run to Taylor, made a mistake on that pitch. But other than that, he had nine strikeouts and gave us a chance to win."

Video: WSH@PHI: Mackanin discusses Nola's outing in 3-1 loss

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Herrera's big fly: The lone Phillies run came courtesy of an Odubel Herrera homer, just his second since his return from the DL on Sept. 4. The long ball also snapped the outfielder's 0-for-17 streak dating back to Wednesday.

Video: WSH@PHI: Herrera unloads a solo smash to right field

"Odubel hit that home run getting behind 0-2, which kind of surprised everyone," Mackanin said. "It was a big hit at the time. We just couldn't get anything going."

Insurance: An important Nationals insurance run came in the top of the eighth as Jayson Werth legged out a fielder's choice, beating the relay throw from second base to erase the would-be inning-ending double play and allowing Ryan Zimmerman to score from third after a double two batters earlier. Zimmerman's two-bagger was the Nationals' only extra-base hit of the night besides Taylor's two-run shot.

Video: WSH@PHI: Werth plates Zimmerman with a forceout

QUOTABLE
"I've been waiting for that. It always feels good to get up there and swing the bat a little bit." -- Cole, on his first career hit, a single in the second inning

Video: WSH@PHI: Cole singles to notch his first career hit

WHAT'S NEXT
Nationals: Gio Gonzalez (15-7) will get the ball on Tuesday for Washington against the Phillies. He carries a 2.68 ERA into the matchup, the fourth-lowest among qualified starters in baseball. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Phillies: For the second time this month, Jake Thompson (2-2, 4.14 ERA) will face the Nats on Tuesday. His last start vs. Washington came Sept. 8, his worst appearance of the season during which he allowed seven runs in five innings. He's been solid in two starts since (one earned run in 10 1/3 innings).

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia who covered the Phillies on Monday.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.