WASHINGTON -- The Phillies rallied for three runs in the ninth inning to complete a come-from-behind, 4-3 victory against the Nationals in Game 1 of Sunday's day-night doubleheader at Nationals Park.
Philadelphia broke out for five hits in the ninth inning. Aaron Altherr began the inning with a solo home run, followed by back-to-back doubles from Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp to tie the game. Ty Kelly singled home the go-ahead run to give the Phillies the lead.
"That was awesome," Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph said afterward. "Everybody put together good at-bats there in the ninth inning. Ty Kelly will go down as the hero, but there were a lot of other players in that inning that played key parts."
Washington had led the entire game before its bullpen once again struggled in the late innings, as Shawn Kelley, who was pitching on back-to-back days after being activated from the disabled list Friday, could not secure a save with a two-run lead in the ninth.
"It was a quick turnaround, I wasn't 100 percent, but we don't pitch 100 percent every time out," Kelley said. "Bottom line is, in that situation, I want the ball there, and I got to do my job and I didn't. So that's on me."
The Nationals were powered by home runs from Bryce Harper and Trea Turner, who each went deep for the second consecutive game to back a strong outing from left-hander Gio Gonzalez. He induced three double plays, matching a career high, to help guide him through 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. His only blemish was a solo homer from Joseph in the seventh inning.
Jeremy Hellickson, who was making his fourth start against the Nats this season, allowed three runs on six hits in five innings.
Phillies rally late: Just when it looked like the Phillies were about to drop their fourth straight game, the heart of their lineup delivered. It all started with the red-hot Altherr, who launched a solo home run to make it 3-2 and give Philly some hope. Cameron Rupp followed a few batters later with a game-tying RBI double, which ended Kelley's day. Ty Kelly then came through with the go-ahead RBI single off Koda Glover, giving the Phillies a lead they'd hold.
"That's how it's been all year against these guys," Altherr said. "We never feel out of it no matter what the score is, because we know their bullpen has been struggling a little bit. Just never give up, never quit and keep fighting."
For the Nats, it was another blown save after a game they controlled the entire way.
"I knew that a long time ago one of the biggest downers is a blown save, because it carries over and it also carries over to the opposition," Nats manager Dusty Baker said. "They think that, 'Hey man, we can get in their bullpen and win the game.' We have to reverse that thought process and that trend that when it gets to the sixth or seventh inning."
Harper haunts the Phillies again: After hitting a walk-off home run Saturday night against the Phillies, Harper picked up right where he left off in his next at-bat. In his first plate appearance of the day, he sent an 80 mph changeup from Hellickson 398 feet to right-center field for his 12th homer of the year. The blast was a low line drive that left his bat at a scorching 110 mph, and it was just 49 feet from the ground, per Statcast™ .
"This is one of the best-hitting teams in baseball, and we're 5-6 off them. It's nice to beat these guys. And they know that we play them tough." -- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, on the closely-contested season series against the Nationals
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies:Vince Velasquez will get the nod in the nightcap of Sunday's doubleheader at 7:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. He'll be looking to rebound from his previous start, which was also against Washington, and notch what could be his third win in the past four outings.
Nationals:Max Scherzer will start the second game of this day-night doubleheader in Sunday's series finale on MLB.TV. Scherzer threw a season-high eight innings of two-run ball with 11 strikeouts in his most recent start against the O's.
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 who covered the Phillies on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.