The Washington Nationals battled from an early hole to even the game at the midway point, but a seventh-inning run against Oliver Perez broke the tie, and -- for once -- Bryce Harper couldn't play hero late as the Philadelphia Phillies knocked off the Nats 4-3 before a crowd of 25, 097 at Nationals Park.
Perez, who'd been masterful up until this one, surrendered back-to-back doubles by Andres Blanco and Maikel Franco -- both hitting right-handed -- with Franco's misplayed at the wall by Michael Taylor, who seemed to change directions three times trying to track the fly ball down.
He eventually made a backward jump in an effort to catch it, but the ball glanced off his glove and the wall, ending up in right center.
Still, the Nats (14-5) had a good chance to win or tie in the ninth. Anthony Rendon singled with two outs to bring up Harper. Despite the Phillies walking Harper three times on the night, they elected to pitch to him with de facto closer Jeanmar Gomez, who Harper homered off last week.
Harper seemed to expand his strike zone a bit, though, and he eventually rolled a changeup off the corner to third for the final out.
Scherzer was victimized again in the first, as a four-pitch walk to leadoff hitter Odubel Herrera then turned into a two-run home run by the next batter, the light-hitting Blanco.
Then in the fourth, Scherzer walked the leadoff hitter again -- the contact-challenged Ryan Howard. Cameron Rupp doubled moving Howard to third. A good defensive play by Ryan Zimmerman nailed Howard trying to score on a ground ball, but Cesar Hernandez cashed in Rupp on the next at bat with a single.
The second of a three-game series is Wednesday, with Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 1.42) hosting Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 5.21) at 7"05 p.m..