Taylor homers late as Nats salvage split with Phillies
WASHINGTON (AP) -- After two games, 6 1/2 hours of play and two blown saves, the Washington Nationals emerged from a day-night doubleheader with a hard-earned split and -- more importantly -- ace Max Scherzer's left knee OK to pitch.
Scherzer endured a scary line drive to grind out six innings, Michael Taylor hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth and Washington overcame another dodgy bullpen outing to earn a 6-5 win in Game 2 over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday night.
"I went into this game with a little blister on my finger," said Scherzer, the defending NL Cy Young Award winner. "Obviously after I got hit, my blister hurt less. So that was the good news."
Bryce Harper went 3 for 4, doubled and drove in two runs in Game 2. He also belted his 12th home run in Game 1, but Philadelphia won 4-3 after Washington's third blown save in six games.
The Nationals blew another one later Sunday when Freddy Galvis' two-run triple off Jacob Turner (2-1) put the Phillies ahead 5-4 in the eighth.
After striking out three times, Taylor homered off Pat Neshek (0-1), belting a first-pitch slider off the left field foul pole. The runs were Neshek's first allowed this season.
"Oh man, I was just hoping that it hit the foul pole," said manager Dusty Baker of the homer that sealed a series victory for the first-place Nationals. "You don't get another chance at that pitch."
Said Neshek: "Terrible pitch. He was looking for it."
Matt Albers worked the ninth in Game 2 for his second save after Shawn Kelley blew a save in Game 1. Ty Kelly had a tiebreaking single during a three-run ninth in the day game.
Scherzer was drilled in his left knee by Michael Saunders' shot in the fourth inning and went tumbling. After briefly climbing to his feet before returning to the ground, he was still grimacing several minutes later while being examined by a Nationals medical staff member.
"Once I was able to get back onto it and walk on it for a second, I knew it wasn't broken," Scherzer said. "And then obviously the pain was pretty intense, but I just needed to catch my breath."
He eventually got to his feet, threw three warmup pitches and gave a thumbs-up sign, sending Baker back to the dugout.
Scherzer allowed two runs in the fourth and another in the sixth but escaped further damage when Brock Stassi was tagged out at home trying to score after misreading an infield single.
A CALL FOR HELP
After watching his bullpen blow a two-run lead in the early game, Baker said he's open to getting outside help.
"You're always pushing for a trade, but there ain't nobody trading right now," Baker said. "Sometimes you have no choice but to have patience. Nobody's going to drop you down a knockdown closer out of the sky until there's some teams out of it."
In Game 1, Aaron Altherr opened the ninth with his eighth homer. Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp hit consecutive doubles off Kelley (3-1), and Galvis walked before Kelly's clutch swing lifted Philadelphia to its third win in 14 games.
"That's how it's been against these guys all year," Altherr said of the Nationals relievers, who entered Sunday with a combined NL-worst 5.18 ERA. "We know their bullpen has been struggling a little bit."
Joaquin Benoit (1-2) pitched a scoreless eighth for Philadelphia, and Hector Neris finished for his fourth save.
Harper has homered five times in nine games against the Phillies, even after missing an entire series with a groin injury.
FINALLY GOT HIM
Altherr was 7 for his last 16 with five home runs entering Sunday night's game, in which he went 0 for 4 and got hit by Scherzer in the fourth.
IT'S BEEN A WHILE
Jeremy Hellickson made his fourth start of the season against Washington in Game 1, in and Philadelphia's 34th game. That's the earliest a Phillies starter has seen a team that many times since Jumbo Elliott faced the Brooklyn Dodgers a fourth time in the 32nd game of the 1931 season.
Phillies: INF Howie Kendrick (abdominal strain) is about to begin swinging the bat and will have at least one rehab game before returning, manager Pete Mackanin said.
Nationals: LF Jayson Werth was out of the lineup for both games after leaving Saturday night's game because of groin tightness. Baker said he'll be re-evaluated Monday.
Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-3, 4.76) starts the opener of Philadelphia's first interleague series Tuesday, a three-game set in Texas.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg looks to improve upon his 3-2 record and 2.51 ERA against the Pirates in a series opener in Pittsburgh Tuesday.