Phils top Nats in 9th on Cesar's clutch single

Phils top Nats in 9th on Cesar's clutch single

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are just six games into another season in their rebuild, but they prefer to look at Sunday's 4-3 victory as a sign of things to come.

They took two of three this weekend against the Nationals, a team with World Series aspirations. But after the Phillies sent the winning run to the plate in the ninth inning in Friday's 7-6 loss, battling back from a seven-run deficit against Max Scherzer; scored a record-breaking 12 runs in the first inning in a 17-3 rout Saturday; and enjoyed a walk-off victory in the ninth inning Sunday, they are feeling a little better about themselves.

"What can I say? We like to win," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "We like to win every game, and this gives us momentum."

Mackanin on walk-off win

But it was the Nationals who almost left town with another series win over the Phillies. The Phillies, who lost 12 of their final 13 to the Nats last season, carried a three-run lead into the ninth inning, when Adam Lind singled and Jayson Werth walked against Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez. Stephen Drew struck out swinging for the second out, but pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman crushed a game-tying, three-run home run to left field. Matt Wieters followed the at-bat with a double, but Gomez got Adam Eaton to ground out to escape the inning.

Late innings a 'learning process' for Nats relievers

"That was a big home run by Zim," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "That's why we had him up there. ... That was a valiant comeback to tie the game. Like I said, we had action on winning the game with another base hit. But again, that's what eluding us, that two-out hard knock."

Baker on tough loss to Phillies

The Phillies came back in the ninth. Daniel Nava walked and Freddy Galvis singled to put runners at the corners with one out. After Brock Stassi popped out, Cesar Hernandez hit a broken-bat single to left field to score Nava to win it.

"Everybody is family, so everybody said, 'Let's go and fight,'" Hernandez said. "We were doing that almost the whole game, so why not do it now?"

Hernandez discusses walk-off

Working hard: Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg entered the game 2-0 with a 1.66 ERA in six career starts in Philadelphia, but the Phillies grinded out three runs against him in seven innings. Freddy Galvis ended an excellent nine-pitch at-bat with a single in the second inning to score Tommy Joseph and give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead. Hernandez beat a throw to first from second baseman Daniel Murphy with two outs in the fifth to score Andrew Knapp, who had doubled for his first big league hit. Howie Kendrick followed with an RBI double.

Kendrick's RBI double to left

"The first one is going to be special no matter what, but against a guy like that who's had such a great career, it's pretty cool to be able to say my first hit was off Stephen Strasburg," Knapp said.

Knapp is giving the ball to his father, Mike.

"He's been pretty influential in my career, and I think it'd be a pretty cool treat to give him," Knapp said.

Knapp's first career hit

Hellickson deals, leaves with injury: Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson pitched five scoreless innings, but he left the game in the top of the sixth because of a cramped right forearm. He said his left forearm cramped up on his first warmup pitch, and his right forearm followed suit. He said he should be fine, but he left frustrated.

Hellickson's first K of game

"I felt like I could have gone seven, eight [innings] for sure," Hellickson said. "To put our bullpen in a spot like that isn't what I wanted to do. But I just couldn't throw, it was weird."

Hellickson pulled before 6th

"I'm going to have a talk with him tomorrow. I'll have something for you tomorrow. I need to talk with him." -- Mackanin, on if Gomez will remain his closer

Mackanin, Phils considering closer change

"Stras, this is why he's Stras. This is what he's getting paid for, to go deep in games. And those games, more times than not, the bullpen will get a rest. At least most of your bullpen. Stras gave us everything he had and everything we wanted." -- Baker, on Strasburg lasting deep into the game to give the bullpen a breather

Strasburg's strong start

The Nationals challenged Odubel Herrera's stolen base in the first inning. Replay overturned the call, and Herrera was called out.

Lobaton's throw gets Herrera

Nationals: The Nationals head back to Washington to begin a six-day, seven game homestand with a three-game series against the Cardinals on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. Tanner Roark (1-0, 3.00 ERA) will make his second start of the season coming off six innings of two-run ball against the Marlins last time out.

Phillies: The Phillies open a three-game series against the Mets on Monday at 7:05 p.m. on MLB.TV at Citizens Bank Park. Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 2.70 ERA) makes his second start of the season. He faces Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom (0-0, 0.00 ERA). Eickhoff is 1-4 with a 2.66 ERA in seven career starts against the Mets, although he has received just seven runs of support in those starts.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.