WASHINGTON -- On the day he had his record-breaking contract for the 2018 season announced, Bryce Harper showed why the Nationals will make him the highest paid arbitration-eligible player in history.
He hammered a walk-off two-run homer in the ninth inning to lead the Nationals to a 6-4 victory over the Phillies on Saturday night at Nationals Park. It was Harper's second walk-off home run of the year, the other also came against Philadelphia on April 16, and it was the fifth career walk-off homer for the 24-year-old. More >
"I'm excited," Harper said. "Just to be able to go out there, win another one for our club, it's fun to be able to get that W. Nobody wanted to play extras with a doubleheader ahead of us tomorrow. Huge win tonight."
Neither starting pitcher made it out of the fifth inning. The Phillies battled right-hander Tanner Roark all night at the plate, forcing him to throw 110 pitches in 4 2/3 innings and tagged him for four runs on six hits. Philadelphia righty Nick Pivetta, who was acquired from the Nats in exchange for Jonathan Papelbon, pitched well through four scoreless innings initially, but Washington got to him in the fifth. Trea Turner hit a two-run homer and Ryan Zimmerman tied the game with a two-out double to end Pivetta's day after 4 2/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Harper delivers in clutch: Harper's home run came off Phillies right-hander Edubray Ramos and traveled 438 feet into center field, as tracked by Statcast™, the longest of his five career walk-off homers. A day earlier, Washington Wizards guard John Wall hit a game-winning three-point shot in the closing seconds of their playoff Game 6 against the Celtics, which Harper acknowledged after the game.
Harper continues to come through in clutch situations for the Nationals and Baker said he notices Harper is more comfortable in those situations with the game on the line.
"Just lock it in," Harper said. "It's a lot of fun. To be able to go out there and compete and try to do the things you can to help your team win in an environment like that. Big moments, big spots, big situations, you always want to do that and live for that. I was having fun trying to do that tonight."
Nats strike quickly to tie it up: Down 4-0 and after being shut out for four innings, the Nationals offense solved Pivetta in the fifth inning and put together the game-tying four-run frame. The rally started thanks to a two-run home run by Turner, who sent a Pivetta fastball to center field at 107 mph per Statcast™. After back-to-back walks to Jayson Werth and Harper, Zimmerman continued his torrid start to the season by tying the game on a two-run double to right-center field. The hit ended the night for Pivetta, who appeared to be cruising prior to the fifth. He gave up four runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
"He's out to win the game, and he's got that kind of a bat. That's what it takes to win a lot of these games ... you [have to] give him credit. He's a good hitter, he signed a big contract today and took advantage of it. -- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin on Harper
"Yeah, obviously with that guy it can happen any time. We've already seen it a couple times this year. The last time when I was pitching again. I think he just has a thing for me or something." -- Shawn Kelley on Harper's walk-off homer
Phillies: Mother's Day will feature a split doubleheader between the Phillies and Nationals; with the first game at 1:35 p.m. ET and the second at 7:05 p.m. Jeremy Hellickson will get the nod in the afternoon, while Vince Velasquez will start the nightcap.
Nationals: The Nationals will send left-hander Gio Gonzalez to the mound for the first game of the doubleheader at 1:35 p.m. ET. Max Scherzer will take the ball for the 7:05 p.m. game.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.
Daniel Shiferaw is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.