After nearly wasting a sublime start from aceMax Scherzer, Wilmer Difo hit a game-winning single and the Nationals completed a comeback from three runs down late in a 5-4 victory over the Phillies in a series decider.
Despite becoming the first pitcher in MLB history to record 15 K's in an outing of 6 1/3 innings or fewer, Scherzer settled for a no-decision when he was removed at the beginning of Philadelphia's three-run seventh.
But his counterpart, Jake Arrieta, witnessed his team lose, despite pitching six innings of two-hit, one-run ball.
"Guys just kept grinding," Scherzer said. "Grinding away at-bats, finding ways to get on base. And when everybody got their number called, they found a way to help the team win."
After pulling to within 4-3 in the eighth, the Nats scored two more in the ninth without Neris recording an out.
Matt Wieters led off with a ground-ball single deep into the shift, beating out the throw from shallow right by a step. Pinch-runner Rafael Bautista sprinted all the way to third after Neris threw wildly on a pickoff attempt.
"I'll say it every day, it's the little things," Martinez said. "Matty hustled to get a base hit. Bautista goes in there and causes him to throw the ball away, goes to third base. The little things matter. Difo huge hit at the end there, staying in the middle of the field and not trying to do too much."
Neris plunked Howie Kendrick and walked Michael A. Taylor to load the bases with no one out. Severino followed with another walk to tie it, and then, with Phillies manager Gabe Kapler opting to play a fifth infielder and sacrifice an outfielder, Difo blooped a single to center to win it.
"I went in with the mentality to get a good pitch," said Difo. "And if I did, hit it hard."
Sean Doolittle (1-1) pitched a scoreless top of the ninth for Washington.
SOUND SMART Scherzer's strikeouts were his most since he became the fifth Major League pitcher to fan 20 batters in a nine-inning game. That feat came in a 3-2, complete-game victory over the Tigers on May 11, 2016. He now boasts five games with 15 or more strikeouts over his career, including four since joining the Nationals in 2015.
HE SAID IT "He doesn't slow. I watch him in the gym. I watch him watch video. His mind is constantly going and constantly learning." -- Martinez, on observing Scherzer up close
UP NEXT The Nationals begin their last trip to the Pacific Time Zone by opening a three-game set against the Padres at Petco Park on Monday. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg (3-3, 3.47 ERA) takes the hill at 10:10 p.m. ET. Martinez just might be persuaded to keep Ryan Zimmerman out of the lineup one more day. Zimmerman is 1-for-9 lifetime against Padres starter Tyson Ross (2-2, 3.28).
Ian Quillen is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington D.C.