WASHINGTON (AP) — Ryan Zimmerman drove in the tiebreaking run off new Philadelphia reliever Nelson Figueroa with a blooper to shallow right that landed inches fair, and the Washington Nationals edged the Phillies 6-5 on Thursday to avoid a season-opening, three-game sweep.
Willie Harris hit a two-run homer for the Nationals, and Tyler Clippard (1-0) earned the victory with 1 2-3 innings of relief. Matt Capps worked around Chase Utley's leadoff double in the ninth for his first save with Washington.
Figueroa (0-1), added to the roster Thursday after being waived by the Mets, walked pinch-hitter Alberto Gonzalez to begin the seventh. Two outs later, Zimmerman lobbed a ball barely beyond the reach of sliding right fielder Jayson Werth for his second double of the game.
Attendance dropped to 20,217, after a sellout of 41,290 for opening day, then 27,240 for Game 2 on Wednesday.
After losing its first two games of 2010 by a combined score of 19-5, Washington kept taking the lead Thursday, then giving it away. The Nationals began about as well as possible: They turned three of Kyle Kendrick's first five pitches into hits, eventually going ahead 3-0.
Nyjer Morgan led off by tripling to the gap in right-center, Cristian Guzman lined an RBI single to center and Zimmerman smacked the first pitch he saw off the wall in left for a double.
Kendrick then settled down, retiring nine consecutive batters, until Adam Dunn led off the fourth with a single. One out later, Harris' homer put Washington ahead 5-2.
Two runs for Philadelphia in the fourth made it 5-4. Placido Polanco singled, and the ball skipped past center fielder Morgan for a two-base error, allowing a run to score to make it 5-3. Polanco wound up on third, then scored on Ryan Howard's single.
The Phillies could have had more, because Werth followed with his third double of the game, but Howard strayed too far off third rounding the bag and was tagged out on a play scored 7-4-5-2.
Kendrick left after throwing only 55 pitches across four rough innings. He allowed five runs and six hits.
Washington's Craig Stammen was barely better, lasting five innings, and giving up four runs and nine hits. What he didn't do was walk anyone, a rare feat for a Nationals pitcher, given that the team issued 17 free passes over the opening two games.
So what did Stammen's replacement, Sean Burnett, do? The lefty reliever began the sixth with two walks. After a bunt put the runners on second and third, Burnett exited. And what did his replacement do? Clippard hit a batter to load the bases for the top of the order.
Jimmy Rollins' sacrifice fly tied it 5-all, before Clippard got out of it by getting Polanco to ground out.
After Zimmerman put Washington up 6-5, Rollins' two-out double in the eighth put runners on second and third. But Brian Bruney got Polanco to ground out again.
NOTES: The Phillies optioned RHP Andrew Carpenter to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, making room for Figueroa. Carpenter did not appear in either of Philadelphia's first two games. ... Guzman made his first start of the season at shortstop after losing the everyday job to rookie Ian Desmond. Manager Jim Riggleman plans to use Guzman at SS, 2B and RF to get him playing time. "I'll take it," Guzman said. "The toughest part is I don't know what position I'm going to play." Riggleman said: "I couldn't ask for anything more, as far as the way he's reacted to it." ... Desmond has 15 extra-base hits among his first 25 major league hits. The last player to do that was Cincinnati's Chris Dickerson in 2008.