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Phillies 9, Nationals 3

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON - Cole Hamels pitched eight strong innings, Hunter Pence hit a pair of two-run home runs and the Phillies scored six ninth-inning runs as they avoided a three-game sweep by downing the Washington Nationals 9-3 on Sunday night.

Hamels raised his record to 4-1 and hasn't lost since his first start of the season. He allowed five hits, a walk and hit one batter while striking out eight and throwing 109 pitches. Brian Sanches pitched the ninth for the Phillies, allowing two runs.

Hamels is now 11-4 lifetime against the Nationals, who still won the series but had a four-game winning streak snapped. The Phillies avoided their first sweep on the road since May 31-June 2, 2010 at Atlanta.

Pence homered in the fourth and the ninth innings for the seventh multi-homer game of his career. He drove in four runs. Placido Polanco had three hits and Juan Pierre had two to add to the Phillies' 13-hit production.

Making matters worse for Washington was the probable loss of right fielder Jayson Werth, who left in the sixth inning with what appeared to be an injury to his left wrist. It's the same wrist Werth injured during the 2005 season while with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He missed the entire 2006 season rehabbing the injury before joining the Phillies for the 2007 season. Werth injured the wrist trying to make a sliding catch of a ball hit by Polanco.

Two of Washington's five hits off Hamels came from Washington's 19-year-old rookie Bryce Harper, who went 2-for-3 against Hamels. In his first faceoff with Harper in the Washington first, Hamels hit Harper with a pitch square in his back. That eventually led to Washington's first run.

Leading 3-1, the Phillies had a chance to blow open the game in the seventh when they loaded the bases with nobody out against Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann walked Hamels and Jimmy Rollins, then Pierre beat out an infield hit to load the bases and send Zimmermann to the bench. But Craig Stammen came in and shut down the Phillies, getting two outs on short fly balls before striking out Laynce Nix to end the inning.

The Phillies exploded in the ninth when 10 batters came to the plate and they cracked out a season-high six runs on six hits. The rally started with an RBI single by Pierre, followed by a triple into the right-field corner by Shane Victorino. Pence then cracked his second homer of the game. Freddy Galvis drove in two more runs with a two-out single.

Washington added two runs in the ninth on a two-out double by pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina and an infield hit by Ian Desmond.

Harper's steal of home in the first inning gave Washington its first run. The steal came when Hamels threw over to first to hold Werth. Harper sprinted for home and slid in ahead of the throw from first. The steal was a bit of payback for Hamels hitting Harper in the back earlier in the inning. Harper moved to third on a single by Werth.

In the third, Harper got his first hit of the series with a two-out, opposite field single to left. The hit broke a streak of 12 hitless at bats against the Phillies, though he had walked four times in addition to being hit by Hamels in the first.

The Phillies scored three runs in the fourth. Pence hit a two-run homer on 1-1 pitch, scoring Victorino ahead of him. The Phils added another run when Nix singled, moved to second on an out and scored on a single by Polanco.

Washington's Ian Desmond tripled with two out in the fifth, but Steve Lombardozzi grounded out to Hamels.

NOTES: Harper's steal of home was only the second in the history of the Nationals franchise. The other came on April 20, 2011, when Ian Desmond stole home on a double steal ... Hamel's balk was his third of the season, matching his total from 2011. Prior to 2011, Hamels had pitched 945 innings without a balk ... Washington 3B Ryan Zimmerman plans to return to the lineup Tuesday at Pittsburgh ... The Nationals have won eight of nine series this season ... With Cliff Lee scheduled to rejoin the Phillies rotation on Wednesday, Kyle Kendrick will return to the bullpen. ... Roy Halladay (3-2, 3.40) will square off against the New York Mets' Jonathan Niese (2-1, 4.08) on Monday. The Nationals open a 3-game road trip at Pittsburgh on Tuesday. ... The two teams drew 106,933 for the three-game series.
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