PHILADELPHIA -- The Nationals and Phillies found themselves in a slugfest on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. When it was over, the Nationals won the game, 8-7, in 11 innings with Jonathan Papelbon picking up the victory in his return to Philadelphia.
With one out in the 10th inning and Phillies right-hander Dalier Hinojosa on the mound in a 6-6 game, Jayson Werth swung at a 3-1 pitch and hit a homer, his second of the game, over the left-field wall to make it a one-run game.
Papelbon then came on to try to save the game, but he ended up blowing his first save of the season. Freddy Galvis led off and hit a home run over the right-field fence to tie the score at 7. It was Papelbon's first blown save since Sept. 14, 2014 when he was with the Phillies. However, Papelbon ended up getting the last laugh.
"I'm very familiar with that situation," Papelbon said about blowing the save. "But at the end of the day you play to win the game. Regardless of how it unfolds, you win the game, it's a good day at the office."
With the score tied at 7 and right-hander Luis Garcia on the mound in the 11th, the Nationals had runners on first and third with no outs, when Yunel Escobar hit a chopper to second baseman Andres Blanco, who was unable to get Danny Espinosa at the plate.
With the win, the Nationals kept pace with the National League East-leading Mets as they remain 9 1/2 games out of first place.
Papelbon ended up getting his fourth win of the season, while Doug Fister picked up his first save of the season. The last time Fister pitched was Sept. 1. The Nationals were saving him just in case Stephen Strasburg wasn't able to pitch because of back tightness.
"It's always great to pitch," Fister said. "I think the first and foremost thing was the guys that played tonight. They fought. I could see that from the bullpen. It's not just the home runs by the guys, it manufacturing the runs, especially that last inning.. The guys plays hard. The guys continue to fight and play this game. It's nice to get in there and pitch. No matter how your name is called, three outs are three outs. No matter what the score is."
Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann lasted six innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and two home runs. Zimmermann was given a 6-2 lead after five innings, but gave it right back when he allowed a three-run homer to Cody Asche to tie the score at 6.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Nats use long ball: Seven of the eight runs came on home runs. The biggest blow came from Werth, who broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning with a grand slam against Aaron Nola. It was Werth's fifth career grand slam. Anthony Rendon hit the first pitch of the game for a home run and Bryce Harper added a solo shot in the third off Nola.
"I feel like [Werth] was sitting on that pitch and I gave it to him," Nola said about his grand slam to Werth. More >
Nola's learning curve: The Phillies right-hander remains a heavy favorite to make the 2016 rotation, but he has room to improve. He allowed six runs and three home runs in four innings against the Nationals. Nola is 6-3 with a 4.11 ERA this season, but he has a 6.75 ERA (12 earned runs in 16 innings) in his last three starts. He should get at least one more start this season. He has pitched 175 innings, and the Phillies want him to finish around 180-185.
Harper's game-saving catch: Papelbon got some help in the 10th inning to help keep the Phillies from getting the win thanks to another great defensive play from the National League MVP candidate. With runners on first and second with one out, pinch-hitter Jeff Francoeur drove an 0-2 pitch deep into the right-field corner and looked like he had just won it for Philly. But, Harper raced over and just as he began to slide, caught the ball and fired it back into the infield. Papelbon got Asche to ground out to end the inning.
"A phenomenal catch. That's a hard position to play right there," Papelbon said. "Every out is huge."
Asche digs long ball: Asche hit a walkoff homer Saturday night against the Cubs. He then hit his game-tying, three-run homer in the sixth. Saturday's homer left his bat at 107.9 mph, the hardest ball he hit this season as tracked by Statcast™. Tuesday's homer was tracked at 105 mph, which was among the 11 balls he had hit 105-mph or harder this season.
"Confidence for sure," Asche said about his recent success. "For a hitter, I think confidence is the No. 1 key."
"We battled, we stayed in it. It's easy at that point to fold the tent and say, 'They got us again.' But the guys didn't do that. They stuck with it tonight." -- Williams, on the victory
"I'm sure he's frustrated where they're at. He got traded from here and we've had more save opportunities here for Kenny [Giles] now, you know? Like I said, I'm sure he's frustrated that he got traded over there and they're not going to probably go to the playoffs. So he's upset. But I mean, the city gave him a great contract and gave him a lot of money. That's his business what he wants to say, but I think you ask any guy in here with his organization they know how to win. It's just a tough time right now." - Phillies outfielder Jeff Francoeur, who disagreed with Papelbon's pregame comments about the team not having players that want to win.More >
HOWARD, ALTHERR INJURED
Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard hit a solo homer to right field in the second inning to tie the game, 1-1. He left the game in the eighth inning because of a bruised left knee. Howard took a throw off his knee in the seventh inning. He was seen leaving the ballpark on crutches. Teammate Aaron Altherr left the game in the 11th with a bruised right forearm. He got hit by a pitch from Papelbon in the 10th.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the eighth inning, Nationals pinch-runner Trea Turner tried to steal second base, but was called out by second-base umpire Chris Segal. The Nationals tried to get the ruling overturned, but after one minute and 37 seconds, the play was confirmed.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: The Nationals look to win their third straight game as Strasburg takes the mound at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday. In his last start, Strasburg tied a season-high in innings, while also logging a season-best 13 strikeouts against the Mets. He's had success against the Phillies this year, going at least seven innings and allowing two or fewer runs in two of three starts.
Phillies: Phillies right-hander David Buchanan faces the Nationals in the second game of this three-game series Tuesday night. Buchanan has a 22.00 ERA (22 earned runs in nine innings) in his last three starts, but the Phillies are sticking with him. They hope he can get things turned around before the end of the season, knowing they might need him to pitch in the rotation next season.