WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' bullpen had been virtually unhittable entering Tuesday, but it proved it could be scored upon as the Phillies claimed a 4-3 win at Nationals Park on Tuesday night. It's Philadelphia's second straight victory over Washington.
The score was tied at 3, when the Phillies took the lead in the seventh inning off left-hander Oliver Perez. With one out, Andres Blanco doubled to left field. Maikel Franco followed and doubled over the head of center fielder Michael Taylor to send Blanco home to take the one-run lead.
"That certainly had a lot of drama to it, that game with that guy," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said, referring to Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper, who grounded out with the tying run on first in the ninth to end the game.
Right-hander Max Scherzer started for Washington and he lasted six innings, allowed three runs with seven strikeouts, but did not figure in the decision.
Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez went six innings and allowed three runs for his third win. Blanco got the Phillies on the board with a two-run home run in the first inning and fell a triple short of the cycle.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Blanco battles: Blanco engaged Scherzer in a little cat-and-mouse game early. He called time out twice before Scherzer delivered a 0-1 pitch in the first, which Blanco hit for a two-run home run. Blanco called time out three more times in a nine-pitch at-bat in the third. It resulted in a double play, but Blanco came back, singling against Scherzer in the fifth and doubling and scoring the go-ahead run against Perez in the seventh.
"He feels comfortable on the mound and I want to feel comfortable at the plate, too," Blanco said. "It's baseball. It's not something I'm just doing because I'm Blanco. Buddy, I'm not playing every day. Let me get comfortable, too." More >
Max inconsistent: Scherzer threw 116 pitches in six innings. It didn't help that he labored during the first four innings. During that stretch, he threw 83 pitches and allowed three runs. Two of those runs came in the first inning when he allowed a two-run homer to Blanco.
"I don't have great fastball location," Scherzer said. "My fastball is in a little bit of a funk. I know it and kind of know what I need to do. I'm not getting extension through that pitch. That's the reason I'm missing on command. It's why I'm throwing balls in certain situations. … I need to make that adjustment and pitch to my abilities so I can be efficient." More >
Nats rally to tie score: The Phillies couldn't turn two on a ball hit by Anthony Rendon in the fifth and the Nationals took advantage of the situation. Harper was the next hitter and he singled to left field, scoring Taylor. Ryan Zimmerman followed with a single to right, scoring Rendon and tying the score at 3.
Phillies strategize against Harper: Mackanin said he had a plan to handle Harper and it appeared to be intentionally walking him. It paid off as Zimmerman fouled out and struck out looking to end the third and seventh innings, respectively. The Phillies didn't intentionally walk Harper in the fifth, and he singled to score a run. Harper then came up with two outs and one on in the ninth and Jeanmar Gomez retired the slugger on a grounder to third after an eight-pitch at-bat.
"Harper is a tough guy to get out," Velasquez said. "His approach is just ridiculous."
Harper said he doesn't mind being walked intentionally by the Phillies because he has faith in the hitters behind him like Zimmerman and Jayson Werth.
"I don't mind getting on base. If it's a walk or intentional walk or a hit, I would rather get on base as best I can for the guys behind me. We just take it one day at a time," Harper said. More >
"I'm not comparing him to [Roy] Halladay, but I didn't like the way he pitched and he only gave up three runs. I remember sitting with [former Phillies coach] Sam Perlozzo after a game and I'd say, 'Boy, [Halladay] was terrible tonight and he only gave up three runs.' That's how good he was." -- Mackanin, on Velasquez's outing
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In four of his five starts, Scherzer has allowed a combined eight first-inning runs this season.
Franco is hitting .444 (8-for-18) with three home runs, eight RBIs and four runs scored in his last four games.
After getting the first out in the eighth, Matt Belisle left the game because of a right calf strain. It appeared Belisle wanted to stay in the game, but manager Dusty Baker took him out in favor of Felipe Rivero because Belisle could not run to cover first base. More >
Franco said he is OK after turning his ankle rounding first base on a double in the seventh. An athletic trainer checked him out on the field, but he remained in the game.
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson hopes to get back on track Wednesday night against the Nationals in a 7:05 p.m. ET start. After he allowed just two earned runs in 11 1/3 innings in his first two starts, Hellickson has allowed nine earned runs in 7 1/3 innings in his last two starts. That includes an April 15 start against the Nationals, when he allowed five earned runs in just three innings at Citizens Bank Park
Nationals: Left-hander Gio Gonzalez is off to a great start, allowing three earned runs in 19 innings, striking out 20 batters and walking four. Gonzalez gets the start on Wednesday night. All he had to do was slow the game down, because he was rushing during Spring Training and walking a lot of hitters.