Harper's seventh-inning departure shortly after taking a pitch off the outside of the knee cast a pall over this Memorial Day series opener at Citizens Bank Park. But thanks to a furious rally by his teammates, most notably Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy, the Nationals turned what would have been a demoralizing loss into an impressive, come-from-behind, 4-3 victory.
Trailing 2-1 in the top of the eighth, the Nationals stormed back via three walks and two-out singles by Werth and Murphy (who raised his MLB-best batting average to .395 with a 3-for-4 night).
Harper hunched over in pain after getting drilled by Jeremy Hellickson's pitch in the seventh, but he initially remained in the game after a discussion with manager Dusty Baker and head athletic trainer Paul Lessard. But after being forced to dive back into first base four times on Hellickson pickoff attempts and then getting doubled up on Murphy's lineout to left field and Tyler Goeddel's 275-foot laser throw to Ryan Howard, Harper did not return to the game.
Harper was one of the few Nationals to reach base all night against Hellickson, who allowed only three hits in seven innings, two of them to Murphy.
Murphy, who doubled in his first at-bat, hammered a fourth-inning pitch from Hellickson to right-center for his eighth homer of the season (only six shy of his career-high despite the season being only two months complete). That blast snapped a 25-inning scoreless streak by the Nationals against Phillies pitching.
Tanner Roark pitched well, and has often been the case this year pitched well enough to win. But the right-hander was in position to take a hard-luck loss because of his teammates' lack of run support.
The Phillies' two runs off Roark came via a couple of walks, a stolen base, a wild pitch and a successful safety squeeze, then Freddy Galvis' solo homer in the sixth.
Fortunately for Roark, the Nationals rallied late to take him off the hook and ultimately hand him the win. Reliever Hector Neris issued three walks during the top of the eighth, including Chris Heisey (Harper's replacement as No. 3 hitter).
The rally was completed, though, by two big hits. Werth laced a single down the left field line to bring home Danny Espinosa and tie the game 2-2. A few minutes later, Murphy stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, then lined a 2-0 pitch from Neris to right field, bringing home both Ben Revere and Werth.
That hit raised Murphy's average to .395. He has 45 hits in 28 games played (26 games started) this month.
Felipe Rivero pitched a perfect eighth inning out of the Nationals bullpen. Jonathan Papelbon escaped a jam in the ninth after giving up back-to-back doubles to open the inning, ultimately securing his 14th save in 16 tries.