PHILADELPHIA — Cesar Hernandez bailed out his buddy in a clutch spot.
Hernandez hit a broken-bat RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning to give the Philadelphia Phillies a 4-3 victory over the Nationals on Sunday.
Pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman delivered a tying, three-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth off closer Jeanmar Gomez, but the Phillies immediately answered to take two of three from the defending NL East champions.
Hernandez and Gomez are close friends, so it was fitting the second baseman turned the blown save into a win.
“Everybody is like a family,” Hernandez said. “If not me, someone else would pick him up.”
Pinch-hitter Daniel Nava walked to start the bottom of the ninth against Koda Glover (0-1). Nava advanced to third when Freddy Galvis singled to right with one out. After Brock Stassi popped out, Hernandez slashed an opposite-field single to left.
Gomez (1-0) had 37 saves in 43 chances last year, but struggled over the final six weeks. He allowed a two-run homer while getting a save in the season opener at Cincinnati.
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he’s considering making a change at closer, but wants to talk to Gomez on Monday.
“We’re going to discuss it,” Mackanin said. “We have to do what’s best for the team.”
Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg allowed three runs and five hits, striking out eight in seven innings. He wasn’t happy with the strike zone early in the game and neither were a couple of Philadelphia’s relievers, including Gomez.
“I made some good pitches early, they just didn’t call them,” Strasburg said. “Just have to keep chipping away and that’s all I can do.”
Jeremy Hellickson pitched one-hit ball over five innings for Philadelphia before leaving the game because of a cramp in his right forearm. Joaquin Benoit, Pat Neshek and Hector Neris combined for three scoreless innings before Gomez took over.
Adam Lind singled with one out and Jayson Werth walked. After Stephen Drew struck out, Zimmerman connected to make it 3-all.
Less than 24 hours after setting a team record with 12 runs in the first inning of a 17-3 victory, the Phillies were one out from beating Strasburg for the first time in their ballpark.
“After that drubbing that we got Saturday, Stras, this is why he’s Stras, what he’s getting paid for, to go deep in games,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.
Galvis gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single .
The Phillies extended the lead to 3-0 in the fifth. Hernandez beat out an infield single to second baseman Daniel Murphy, scoring Andrew Knapp after the rookie catcher led off the inning with a double for his first career hit. Howie Kendrick then ripped a double to left-center to score Hernandez.
“You can only control what you can control,” Gomez said about possibly losing his closer’s role.
The Nationals selected the contract of reliever Matt Albers from Triple-A Syracuse and designated RHP Jeremy Guthrie for assignment. Guthrie allowed 10 runs while getting only two outs in the first inning Saturday.
Nationals SS Trea Turner wasn’t in the lineup after injuring his hamstring Saturday night. He isn’t expected to miss much time.
Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (1-0, 3.00 ERA) takes the mound in the series opener at home against the Cardinals on Monday. Adam Wainwright (0-1, 3.60) pitches for St. Louis.
Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 2.70) starts the series opener at home against the Mets on Monday. He is 1-4 with a 2.66 ERA in seven starts against New York. Jacob deGrom goes for the Mets. He tossed six shutout innings in his first outing.
Follow 106.7 The Fan on Twitter
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)