Phillies drop 12-inning duel to Nationals

Phillies drop 12-inning duel to Nationals

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper's double down the right-field line in the bottom of the 12th inning scored Anthony Rendon and propelled the Nationals to a 2-1 walk-off victory over Philadelphia on Saturday, ending what turned out to be an empty win for Washington.

Forty-nine minutes earlier, with the Nationals and Phillies in the top of the 11th, the Mets' win over Cincinnati went final, officially eliminating Washington from postseason contention.

"We got games to play," Nationals manager Matt Williams said, when asked about the club's elimination. "We got to win tomorrow. I mean, we're here. We have to play games. We've got some remaining. We want to play well in those games. After the fact, we'll have a chance to look back at it."

At Nationals Park, Stephen Strasburg was dominant for the first seven innings, striking out 11 Phillies and allowing only one hit. Given limited run support, that wasn't enough, and Philadelphia rallied for two hits and a run to tie the game in the eighth off the right-hander.

Strasburg's stellar outing

Rookie Aaron Nola started opposite Strasburg and pitched well in his own right. He tossed five shutout innings, allowed six hits and struck out five in his 31st professional start of the season.

"There isn't much to talk about," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "There wasn't much offense. Nola was outstanding and he worked his way out of that bases-loaded, no-out jam [in the fourth inning]. Great job. The rest of the bullpen did an outstanding job. They kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win the game, but we came up short with our bats."

Harper on walk-off, gets covered

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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Another gem: Strasburg churned out his fourth consecutive double-digit strikeout game, blowing away 13 Phillies through eight innings. He was perfect until Darin Ruf singled to left to lead off the fifth, but Ruf was immediately erased on an Andres Blanco double play. Strasburg faced the minimum through seven innings but was tagged for two hits and a walk in the one-run eighth. Over his last four starts, the first overall pick from the 2009 Draft has allowed five earned runs in 30 1/3 innings, striking out 50 and walking four.

"He's getting better and better every time," Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond said. "The lefties were getting some nasty changeups, I mean disgusting. Then 96, 97 [mph with the fastball], then he's got the curveball. All three pitches are plus-plus pitches."

Nationals turn two

Rookie does his job: Nola pitched five scoreless innings, working out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the fourth inning. He could have pitched more, but the Phillies plan to limit his workload as the season winds down. Nola has pitched 187 innings, including 109 1/3 innings in the Minor Leagues. The Phillies originally said he would pitch about 185 innings.

"I feel good," Nola said. "I want to go one more. I want to finish out the season and try to finish it out strong." More >

Nola's five strikeouts

Breaking the scoreless tie: After the Nationals loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth but came away empty, they put themselves in another position to score in the sixth. With runners on the corners and one out, Desmond hit a slow roller to down the third-base line, and Cody Asche's only play was to first. Harper scored to break the 0-0 tie.

Desmond's RBI groundout

QUOTABLE
"Take it for what it is. Nothing bad. That's a good sign. Just kind of embrace it and realize it feels this way because I have built some really good relationships with some of you guys, and fans, and obviously everyone in here. But it's all good stuff. Everything is positive. Except the team's situation." -- Desmond, on what may be his final days with the Nationals

Williams on missing the playoffs

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Harper's sixth-inning walk was his 123rd of the season, which tied Ken Singleton's 1973 mark for the most in a single season in franchise history. Singleton played in 162 games with the Expos that season.

PHILLIES' INJURY UPDATES
• First baseman Ryan Howard took batting practice again Saturday, but he was not available to pinch-hit. Howard, who has been sidelined since Sept. 14 with a bruised left knee, could rejoin the Phillies next week at Citizens Bank Park.

• Third baseman Maikel Franco played four innings in an intrasquad game in Clearwater, Fla. He tripled in one of his at-bats. Franco has been on the DL since Aug. 12 with a broken left wrist. He will not play Sunday, but he will play five innings in a Florida instructional league game Monday. He will be re-evaluated then.

WHAT'S NEXT
Phillies: The Phillies play their final road game of the season in Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Nationals. Right-hander Aaron Harang (6-15, 4.93 ERA) makes his 28th start of the season in the 1:35 p.m. ET matchup.

Nationals: Gio Gonzalez (11-8, 3.94) will pitch in Sunday's matinee, the last of 19 head-to-head meetings between the Nationals and Phillies this season. Gonzalez is 8-5 with a 2.99 ERA in 15 career starts against Philadelphia.

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.