Nats get the Harper-Murphy surge they've been waiting for

Photo credit Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Down four runs after five innings and a 45-minute rain delay, the Nationals' bats exploded late in Sunday's 8-6 win over the Phillies, a show of force the club has long been missing in 2018.

Washington hammered out six unanswered runs on nine hits in the comeback victory, taking the lead during a two-out rally in the bottom of the eighth that scored three runs on the bats of Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Michael A. Taylor.

It was the type of run production the Nats should envision with Murphy and Harper hitting back to back. But Murphy has struggled to find his form in 12 games back from offseason knee surgery, which caused him to miss the first 64 regular-season games, and Harper's been anyone but himself, trying to snap out of the worst slump of his career.
Entering Sunday's game hitting .212 with 19 home runs, 45 RBI and 57 walks, Harper struck out in his first two-at bats, and then struck it big, doubling in each of his next three plate appearances. Harper's first double came off former Nats prospect Nick Pivetta in the bottom of the fifth. Alex Rodriguez, a game analyst for ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball," remarked that Harper could break out with a swing like that, crunching a 95 MPH first-pitch fastball into the left-center field gap. Harper doubled twice more on the night.

Sentences you wouldn’t have expected to type/read before the season: Juan Soto was intentionally walked to get to Daniel Murphy.

— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) June 25, 2018

The Nationals took over with two runners on and two out in the eighth, after Phillies manager Gabe Kapler chose to intentionally walk Juan Soto and allow Seranthony Dominguez to pitch to Murphy with the bases loaded. Again Rodriguez peered into the future, saying Kapler should have taken his chances with Soto rather than Murphy, "the toughest out in the National League over the last two years."

A-Rod explains to Buster Olney why he disagreed with pitching to Daniel Murphy

— Douglas Pucci (@SonOfTheBronx) June 25, 2018

Murphy delivered, digging a slider out of the dirt and pushing it over the second baseman on a half-swing that dropped cleanly into right field, scoring the game-tying and go-ahead runs. Taylor added an insurance run on a line-drive single in the next at-bat, 8-6. And Sean Doolittle closed it out in the ninth for his 21st save of the season.

The Nationals scored 6 straight runs to defeat the Phillies 8-6 on ESPN. Daniel Murphy put the Nats ahead with an 8th inning RBI single, marking his first 3-hit game this season.Bryce Harper had a double in 3 straight at-bats. He entered tonight with 4 extra-base hits in June.

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 25, 2018

Bryce Harper after his 3rd straight double

— fitz (@efitz11) June 25, 2018

Bryce Harper fired up after 3rd straight double

— Rudy Gersten (@DCBarno) June 25, 2018

Bryce Harper is slashing:.600/.600/1.200 since the start of June 24th

— NATSHACK (@dcNATSHACK) June 25, 2018

In total, the Nats scored eight runs on 17 hits on the night.

Bryce Harper is back. And Daniel Murphy might be back, too.

— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) June 25, 2018

The Nationals won, 8-6. They’re 41-35. Turns out their offense is a lot better when Harper and Murphy are hitting.

— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) June 25, 2018

That was 2012 Harper (fired up after a hustle double) and 2016 Murphy (finding a way to make good contact on a 2-strike pitch out of the zone).

— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) June 25, 2018

HUGE WIN!!!On my way home from the game. Gutty and clutch come from behind victory. Outstanding TEAM performance with so many contributors. COULD TURN THIS SEASON AROUND!!! Go Nats!!!!!

— Ray Knight (@RayKnight25) June 25, 2018

Bryce Harper is back. And Daniel Murphy might be back, too.

— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) June 25, 2018

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