Papelbon recovers after allowing 2 doubles in 9th vs. former club
By Jamal Collier and Evan Webeck
PHILADELPHIA -- Daniel Murphy continued his scorching-hot month of May by collecting three hits, including the go-ahead two-run single in the eighth to lead the Nationals to a 4-3 comeback victory against the Phillies on Monday at Citizens Bank Park.
Murphy also hit a solo home run in the fourth to collect three RBIs on the night, while raising his Major League-leading batting average to .395 as the Nationals snapped a four-game losing streak to the Phillies.
"It's been incredible. He's carrying our team," Nationals right-fielder Bryce Harper said. "He's doing everything possible in our lineup to keep us going. It's something fun to watch. It's definitely special."
Philadelphia right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who tossed seven shutout innings on April 27 at Nationals Park, had shut the Nationals down again through seven innings of one-run ball. He only allowed three hits -- two of which were to Murphy -- with eight strikeouts, and even drove in a run on a sacrifice bunt in the second.
"Hellickson pitched a hell of a game, and we just couldn't hang on," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.
Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis hit a solo homer in the sixth to give Philadelphia a 2-1 advantage. The Nationals then rallied for a three-run eighth inning off Phillies reliever Hector Neris, handing him his first blown save of the year after a run-scoring double from Jayson Werth and the go-ahead hit by Murphy.
Jonathan Papelbon allowed a run on back-to-back doubles from Maikel Franco and Ryan Howard to open the bottom of the ninth, but the right-hander retired the next three batters to secure his 14th save and close out his former team.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Murphy stays red-hot: The Nationals' signing of Murphy has been one of the biggest free-agent moves from the offseason. He collected his 25th multi-hit game in 50 games this season. Murphy's 45 hits in 28 games in May is a team record for most hits in a month and are the most by a National League player in any calendar month since Melky Cabrera recorded 51 hits in May 2012.
"I don't know. They're falling right now," Murphy said. "I'm swinging the bat well. I think we're all swinging the bat well, and I think we've put ourselves in a really good spot through almost two months of the season." More >
His go-ahead hit helped deliver a win to right-hander Tanner Roark, who allowed two runs and four hits through seven innings.
Hellickson deals: Just three starts after he approached his personal best of 10 strikeouts in a game, Hellickson again got within striking distance of that number. But Phillies manager Pete Mackanin pulled Hellickson two K's away from getting there. Emmanuel Burriss pinch-hit for the veteran righty in the seventh after Hellickson had tossed 79 pitches. Through 11 starts, Hellickson has rung up at least eight batters in three of them. He has more eight-plus strikeout games in 2016 than any other season but 2013, when he had five in 31 starts.
"When things are going good, you just have a lot of confidence with all your pitches," Hellickson said. "I feel like I've got good life on my fastball right now. I'm not afraid to throw that in hitter's counts. And in this 4-5 game span, it's probably the best my changeup has been in a long time."
Goeddel's gun of an arm: If Hellickson throwing over to first twice before making another pitch after he hit Harper in the knee wasn't cruel enough, Tyler Goeddel only added insult to injury the next play. Murphy lined a ball to Goeddel in left field. By the time the ball was in Goeddel's glove, Harper had made it to second. Big mistake. Goeddel secured the fly ball before firing a rocket to first base to double up Harper for the second out of the seventh. The Nats' phenom almost stuck his foot out to reach the bag in time, but after review, the out call stood.
"I couldn't believe it," Mackanin said. "That was a great play. It's a shame to waste a great play like that and not come out with a win." More >
Harper leaves game: Although Harper stayed in the game briefly after being hit by a pitch in the top of the seventh, it was clear that the knee was hurting him. He did not slide back into first base when he was doubled off by Goeddel. In the bottom of the inning, Harper was replaced by Chris Heisey in right field. The Nationals announced that Harper was day to day with a bruised knee.
"It hurts," Harper said after the game. "Whenever you get squared up like that, definitely something that didn't feel good. I think we'll evaluate tomorrow and see how it feels." More >
"We thought about doing that, but we've had such a good combination of Neris and [Jeanmar] Gomez. We thought it was a good idea to get him out and go with the combination that's been working so well for us." -- Mackanin, on possibly leaving Hellickson in after the seventh
"We wouldn't be close, especially offensively. You don't know who else we would have had, but he certainly couldn't have been any better than Daniel Murphy ... just keeps doing his thing, and we're going to help him keep doing his thing." -- Baker, on where the Nationals would be if they hadn't signed Murphy last offseason
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals:Joe Ross (4-4, 2.52 ERA) will close out the month of May for the Nationals in the middle game of this series in Philadelphia. Ross tossed his best start of the season against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on April 15. He scattered three hits in 7 2/3 scoreless innings with five strikeouts.
Phillies:Aaron Nola (4-3, 2.86) gets the ball in Game 2 against the Nationals. He's allowed 14 runs in 33 May innings, but only eight have been earned. Washington tagged him for seven runs in five innings on April 16, but Nola responded with seven shutout innings against the Nats two starts later. First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.