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Phillies rally with 8-run 9th to thump Nats

WASHINGTON -- The Phillies posted eight runs in the ninth inning to cap a rally from two runs down and take Sunday's rubber game, 12-5, from the Nationals at Nationals Park. Nats closer Jonathan Papelbon started the inning and allowed five runs (two earned) on one hit and two walks.

Just a few minutes prior, Washington's television broadcast picked up Papelbon and star right fielder Bryce Harper engaging in a verbal and then physical altercation.

"Well, certainly there is a lot of testosterone flowing among young men competing," Nats manager Matt Williams said. "What I can tell you is this, this is a family issue and we'll deal with it that way."

Video: [email protected]: Harper, Papelbon separated after dispute

Harper was removed from the game in the top half of the next inning, but Papelbon, who recorded one out in the eighth, stayed in and allowed five of the eight runs that Philadelphia scored in the frame. The final six runs of the inning were unearned.

"I'm never going to say that because I went out there and gave up some runs that it's anything other than me not pitching to my capabilities," Papelbon said. "I really went out there and didn't locate my fastball and fell behind on hitters. Any time you do that, the outcome is usually not going to be good. But [the scuffle] didn't affect how I pitched, no. "

With the game tied at 2 in the seventh, Ian Desmond and Matt den Dekker both collected their third hits of the afternoon and scored, temporarily giving the Nationals a two-run edge. The Phils responded, though, as Aaron Altherr doubled to start the eighth inning and Jeff Francoeur tied the game two batters later with his 13th home run of the season.

Gio Gonzalez and Aaron Harang started the matinee, and neither pitcher factored into the decision. Gonzalez started the sixth but couldn't record an out and Harang pitched through the inning.

"I hit that one pretty good," said Phillies second baseman Andres Blanco, who hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the ninth against Papelbon. "I didn't expect the ball to go that far. Fortunately, it did. I'm happy."

Video: [email protected]: Blanco belts go-ahead homer in the 9th

Frenchy breaks loose: Francoeur had been in a major slump entering the series finale, hitting .042 (1-for-24) with one walk and 15 strikeouts in his previous 11 games. But he singled and doubled against Gonzalez before hitting a game-tying two-run homer in the eighth inning. It was his first homer since Aug. 19.

"It's about time Frenchy did something," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said with a laugh. "We were all over him. I asked him to try to do a little better today, and he did."

Video: [email protected]: Francoeur ties game late with two-run homer

Double dipping: Desmond opened the scoring with a two-out homer to right-center field off Harang in the second inning, his 19th of the year. den Dekker followed suit, annihilating Harang's very next offering off the wall behind the center-field fence. Statcast™ projected den Dekker's home run to travel 449 feet from home plate.

Video: [email protected]: Desmond, den Dekker hit back-to-back homers

Altherr's catch: Phillies center fielder Altherr made a spectacular catch to end the bottom of the eighth inning. Clint Robinson lined a ball to left-center field, but Altherr pursued and got some serious hang time to make the grab. Mackanin said it could be the catch of the year, although Angels outfielder Mike Trout probably earned that title Saturday when he climbed the wall to rob a home run.

"He's got me on that one," Altherr said about Trout's catch. "That's a home run. Mine would have just been a double. He gets me on that. … I started closing in on it and just tried to stretch out a little further and dive for it. It just happened to go in my glove."

Video: [email protected]: Altherr hits 19 MPH to make diving catch

Desmond's farewell: Desmond was drafted by the Expos in 2004, but, currently in his free-agent season, he isn't expect to return to Washington next year. After Desmond trotted out to shortstop before the ninth inning, Trea Turner replaced him, giving the fans a chance to thank the seven-year veteran. Players joined in cheering Desmond, as he rose to the top step of the dugout for potentially one final Nationals Park curtain call.

"That was pretty special. It's bittersweet," Desmond said. "I spent a lot of time here. I have special memories. Certainly, it will be amongst the better ones. … I thank the organization and the fans for supporting me and investing their emotions in me." More >

Video: [email protected]: Desmond gets ovation after exiting game

"I don't want to go there. I'm happy we won. … I don't have any grudge about anything. I got enough to worry about with this team. I'm not allowing myself to go anywhere else."
-- Mackanin, who stayed diplomatic when asked if it felt more special to beat Papelbon in the ninth inning

"The dugout stuff, in my opinion, is a non-story. That stuff just happens. It's been an emotional couple of days. When the emotions boil over sometimes, it gets the best of us. No blood drawn. We are going to be all right."
-- Desmond, on the altercation

The Phillies' eight runs in the ninth inning matched a season high. They scored eight runs against the Mets in the sixth inning on Sept. 1.

Phillies: The Phillies are off Monday and return to action Tuesday night when they open a three-game series against the National League East champion Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Right-hander David Buchanan (2-9, 7.96 ERA) will pitch the opener at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Nationals: The Nats have a makeup game with Cincinnati on Monday, a rescheduled rainout from earlier this season. It will be Washington's final home game of the 2015 season, before traveling to Atlanta. Max Scherzer (12-12, 2.98 ERA) will start for the Nationals against the Reds at 3:05 ET.

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

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for