WASHINGTON -- Call Jayson Werth, Mr. Clutch. His single in the bottom of the ninth inning helped the Nationals edge the Phillies, 5-4, at Nationals Park on Sunday afternoon.The Nationals are now 15 games over .500 and 4 1/2 games ahead of the Mets in the National League East race.The
WASHINGTON -- Call Jayson Werth, Mr. Clutch. His single in the bottom of the ninth inning helped the Nationals edge the Phillies, 5-4, at Nationals Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Nationals are now 15 games over .500 and 4 1/2 games ahead of the Mets in the National League East race.
The Nationals were down, 4-3, when they rallied to score two runs in the ninth inning off closer Jeanmar Gomez. After Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa reached on singles and Clint Robinson walked to load the bases, Werth drove a 2-2 pitch up the middle, scoring Harper and Espinosa. The walk-off win completed a three-game sweep for the Nationals, who chased Werth into the outfield in celebration. There was manager Dusty Baker doing his hop, skip and a jump after the winning run scored. Werth was then doused with Gatorade twice.
"As a kid, you always want that last at-bat because you can walk off. You are just glad it didn't happen on the road," manager Dusty Baker said. "No matter what he is doing or how he is playing, he has been a clutch man all these years. A clutch man knows how to come through."
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Said Werth: "You live for those moments. You grew up playing Wiffle ball in the backyard. You always run through those situations. I've been lucky to get those chances during my career. I want to win, I want to help my teammates win and be part of a championship team. Whatever I can do."
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It looked like the Phillies had the game won when Maikel Franco's homer in the top of the ninth gave them a 4-3 lead. The solo shot came off closer Jonathan Papelbon on a 2-2 pitch that Franco hit into the left-field stands.
The Nationals offense started strong against left-hander Adam Morgan, scoring three runs in the first two innings. Espinosa highlighted the scoring with a home run. But Nationals right-hander Joe Ross allowed the Phillies to tie the score by the sixth inning.
As Philadelphia came back, Morgan settled down, for what manager Pete Mackanin called "the best I've seen him pitch in two years, after that first inning."
"I tried to keep it simple," Morgan said. "I think in the first couple of innings I was trying to be too fine and picky, and that's not who I am."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Good news, bad news for Ross: The good was that Ross didn't walk a batter in seven innings, but he allowed the Phillies to tie the game in the sixth. Cody Asche started the scoring with a fifth-inning home run, and Freddy Galvis tied the game with an RBI single.
Franco gets dinged, hits dinger: In the fourth inning, Franco appeared to injure his ankle after tripping over a baserunner. After a brief conversation with the training staff, the third baseman stayed in the game. Five innings later, Franco homered to left field off Papelbon to break the tie score. The long ball was a good sign for Franco, who recorded his second multi-hit game, and for a struggling Phillies offense.
"We've got to get our offense going," Mackanin said. "Good to see Franco bust out, but the rest of the guys have to give us consistent at-bats."
Morgan was dealing: The Nationals were getting good swings against Morgan in the first three innings. But after Chris Heisey was caught trying to steal third base, the Nationals collected one hit and struck out seven times the rest of the way against Morgan.
Phillies come back: The Phillies fell behind 3-0 in the second inning, and it looked like more of the same for a team that was shut out Saturday and ranks near the bottom of the league in many offensive categories. But Cody Asche homered in the fifth, breaking a team streak of 14 innings without a run, and Philadelphia scored two runs the next inning on three consecutive line drives -- two doubles and a single -- to tie the game at 3. Mackanin was happy to see the Phillies show resilience.
"Good to see the guys come back," the manager said. "What a way to lose a game. It was just a tough game to lose."
"We have to put this game behind us and enjoy it. But we have work to do tomorrow. The next step, 20 games over .500. It's time to stack pennies to get some dollars." -- Baker
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Espinosa has eight home runs in his last 15 games. The eight home runs since May 26 are tied for the second most in the Major Leagues behind the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez with nine.
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
With one out in the ninth, Harper reached base on an infield single, but the Phillies challenged the call and claimed that Harper was out on a close play. After a review, the play stood and Harper would later score on the single by Werth.
Joseph said he thought, after seeing the replay, that the umps got the call right, but Mackanin wasn't so sure.
"If the side of his foot was touching the base, [Harper] was definitely out, but [Joseph] went back. It's like when a guy tags a guy but then goes back to tag him even though he tagged him the first time, it looks like he didn't," Mackanin said. "I believe, from what I saw on the replays, if he didn't go back with his foot, I believe they would've called him out." More >
Phillies: The Phillies head to Toronto for an Interleague series against the Blue Jays beginning Monday at 7:07 p.m. ET. Philadelphia will start Jerad Eickhoff in the opener of the four-game home-and-home set. On the season, Eickhoff has a 3.68 ERA and an impressive 1.17 WHIP. Ryan Howard, who has lost playing time lately to Joseph, will likely DH.
Nationals: They begin a three-game series against the Cubs on Monday night at 7:05 ET. Washington is looking for revenge against a team that swept the four-game series back in early May. In Game 1, Max Scherzer faces the Cubs away from Wrigley Field for the first time in his career. He is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four career starts against them.
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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.
Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington and covered the Phillies on Sunday.