WASHINGTON -- By the time the ball landed fair inside the left-field line and out of the reach of Phillies left fielder Howie Kendrick, Bryce Harper was off and running from first base. From the moment that the double from Daniel Murphy fell and rolled into the corner, Harper thought he could score. His helmet came off his head, bounced off the back of his foot and flew into the air as he rounded third base with third-base coach Bobby Henley waving him home.
As Harper slid headfirst, he was tackled on the ground by Jayson Werth as a sold-out crowd of 38,664 fans erupted to celebrate the Nationals' 3-2 walk-off victory in 10 innings over the Phillies on Friday afternoon at Nationals Park.
"I was just trying to score," Harper said. "I didn't want to play extras. It's tough going out there and trying to get into those extra innings. You don't want to do that to your bullpen or anything like that. I'm glad Murph got that knock and I was able to score." More >
The rally came off Phillies right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, who was removed from the closer's role earlier this week after giving up a game-tying, three-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman in the ninth inning Sunday.
Each starting pitcher was making his second consecutive outing against the opposing team. Aaron Nola cruised to a victory in his first start against the Nats with the benefit of a 12-run first inning, but he pitched well overall in that start. He was even better in five strong innings Friday where he struck out seven and yielded his only run in the second inning, on three consecutive hits and an RBI single by Matt Wieters.
Nats right-hander Stephen Strasburg turned in his best outing of the season. He allowed two runs -- a solo homer from Tommy Joseph in the second and a run-scoring single from Cesar Hernandez in the fifth -- but he struck out eight over seven innings. Strasburg finished with 111 pitches, more than he threw in all but two starts last season.
"We play this team tough," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "It seems like every time we play them...we go down to the eighth and ninth inning every time we play them. Which is good, especially early in the season, to stay with them."
"The story for me was Nola, he gave us five good innings … [he] pitched well," Mackanin said. "That's two outings in a row, I think that's [going to] do a lot for his confidence." More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Nats walk off:Shawn Kelley knew if he could just get the Nats to the bottom of the 10th with the game still tied with the heart of the order due up that they would have a good chance to win. And they delivered. Harper began the inning by lining a 1-0 changeup through the shift for a single to bring Murphy to the plate. Murphy's double was his first walk-off hit since 2012.
"I think when I hit it it's going to be fair, I'm watching Bryce," Murphy said. "I'm pretty sure that [Henley is] going to send him right there and I'm just going to keep rolling right behind him in case they throw him out at home."
"Bryce, he was hauling," Nats manager Dusty Baker said. "You want him to score. That's the number one thing. You have to want to score."
Rendon ties the game late
With the Nationals offense struggling for most of the day -- scoring just once through six innings -- third baseman Anthony Rendon got his team back in it with a game-tying RBI double off of Phillies reliever Edubray Ramos in the seventh. It was a well-needed jolt for Rendon, who was 5-for-33 on the young season prior to that at-bat.
"I don't know. He might do better than he did last year which is hard to believe. That guy is special. I want to be like him when I get older. I tell you that." -- Kelley, on Murphy
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Murphy has a hit in 10 consecutive games to start the season, the longest streak to start a season in his career.
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: Philadelphia will respond as it sends right hander Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 0.90 ERA) to the mound on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET for the second game of this weekend series. The 30-year-old is off to an impressive start to the young season, but will face a Nationals club that had success against him throughout most of 2016.
Nationals:Tanner Roark takes the ball for the second game in this three-game set Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park. He dominated the Phillies in his five starts last season where he went 3-0 with a 0.79 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 34 innings.