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Nationals overcome early deficit against Phils

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Once again, the Washington Nationals found themselves facing a deficit on Friday night -- trailing 3-0 after one inning against no less a pitcher than Philadelphia Phillies perennial All-Star Cliff Lee.

And, once again, the Nationals rallied to win.

First baseman Adam LaRoche singled in the go-ahead run in a three-run eighth inning and Washington beat Philadelphia 5-3.

It was the ninth come-from-behind victory this season for the Nationals (17-12), who have won three straight and five of six.

"They just keep fighting back," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "It's part of their DNA."

Left fielder Tyler Moore, whose leadoff homer in the third started the comeback against Lee, said the Nats possess "more of a quiet confidence."

"We're not rah-rah about everything," he said. "The first inning they went up 3-0. There's a lot of game left. I think last year we didn't do a good job of (rallying). I feel like we got down. This year, we've been doing a great job of that."

Right fielder Jayson Werth, whose first-inning error set the stage for a three-run homer by Philadelphia right fielder Marlon Byrd, went 3-for-4 for Washington.

It was Byrd's fourth homer of the season. But the Phillies could muster nothing else against Stephen Strasburg and four relievers en route to their second straight loss.

With the Phillies leading 3-2, Nats center fielder Denard Span opened the eighth with a double off reliever Mike Adams (1-1). Span stole third, and Anthony Rendon singled him home to tie the score.

Werth, who earlier extended his hitting streak to nine games, followed with a single, and Jake Diekman replaced Adams.

LaRoche then grounded a 1-1 pitch up the middle to bring Rendon home, making it 4-3. Shortstop Ian Desmond followed with an RBI double.

Jerry Blevins (2-1), the third Washington pitcher, worked 2/3 of an inning for the victory. Rafael Soriano, who extended his career-best scoreless innings streak to 23 (including 11 this season), pitched the ninth to pick up his sixth save.

Strasburg pitched six innings and allowed three runs (none earned) and six hits. He struck out five and walked one.

Lee went seven innings and allowed two runs (one earned) and four hits. He struck out five and walked two.

After Strasburg retired the first two hitters he faced in the bottom of the first, second baseman Chase Utley and first baseman Ryan Howard stroked back-to-back singles. Byrd then lofted a foul fly that Werth dropped for an error.

"Jayson makes that play 99 times out of 100," Williams said. "Probably more than that."

Three pitches later, Byrd blasted his three-run homer to right center.

"I feel like I gathered myself (after the error)," Strasburg said. "That inning my fastball was up a little bit. I just made a bad pitch."

Moore's third-inning homer was his second of the year. It was also the second he has hit in his career off Lee, against whom he was 2-for-3 on Friday, leaving him 6-for-12 in his career.

"I've had some hits before against him, so I guess that you feel comfortable," Moore said. "It just gives you that extra confidence that, hey, you've gotten him before, so hopefully you get him tonight."

In the fifth, the Nationals closed to 3-2 on a run-producing groundout by Span.

"We felt good about scoring three runs in the first inning and we were not able to add on," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We had one chance in the seventh inning with a man on second and then in the eighth inning --- first and second, nobody out --- and no runs come in."

NOTES: Nationals RF Jayson Werth has reached safely in 12 straight games and has two hits or more in five of his last seven. ... Washington's Anthony Rendon has now hit safely in six straight games. ... The benches and bullpens emptied in the top of the fifth inning when Phillies LHP Cliff Lee and CF Denard Span exchanged words as Span returned to the dugout after bouncing out. At first, it appeared that Span tried to call timeout, but it was not granted by plate umpire Jim Reynolds. But Span told reporters after the game Lee quick-pitched him, up and in. Span reacted by stepping out of the box and staring the pitcher down. ... The Phillies' 13-13 finish in April marked the first time they went .500 or better in the opening month of a season since they were 18-8 in 2011. ... Washington finished April at 16-12, the second-best start since the franchise moved from Montreal in 2005. The 2012 club started 14-8. ... The Nationals' 128 runs were their most ever in March/April.
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