By Mary Cunningham
Odubel Herrera is making the Phillies’ decision to draft him look like the best move they made all winter.
Herrera doubled in the winning run in the 10th inning, giving the Phillies a 3-2 comeback victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.
A winter-meeting draft pick-up from Texas, Herrera opened the season as Philly’s starting center fielder after not playing higher than Double-A ball in the minors. He was 0 for 8 before his winning hit.
”I’m very pleased my first hit of my career was this special,” Herrera said through a translator. ”I’m very grateful for this opportunity.”
Teammate Freddy Galvis gave Herrera a pie-face after players celebrated their second straight win over the Nationals.
Carlos Ruiz led off the bottom of the 10th with a single off Tanner Roark (0-1). He advanced on a deep flyout and scored when Herrera doubled down the right-field line.
”I tried a backdoor slider, and Herrera hit it,” Roark said.
Wilson Ramos had a solo homer for the Nationals, who wasted a strong outing by Doug Fister. Washington, favorites to win the NL East, are off to a 1-4 start.
Dustin McGowan (1-0) pitched a scoreless 10th to get the win with a big assist from his defense.
Phillies left fielder Ben Revere made a perfect one-hop throw to the plate to throw out speedy Michael Taylor trying to score from second on Yunel Escobar’s single. Revere was moved to left late in spring training because his inability to make strong throws from center hurt the Phillies.
”Change the scouting report,” Revere joked.
Cole Hamels gave up just two hits in seven innings, but one was Ramos’ homer. Hamels rebounded from a poor performance on opening day, when he gave up four homers in an 8-0 loss to the Red Sox. His only mistake was a high fastball that Ramos drove out to right in the fourth. Ramos was 3 for 18 off Hamels before connecting for an opposite-field shot.
Fister allowed six hits in 6 1-3 scoreless innings. Fister led the Nationals with 16 wins in 2014, but begins the year as the No. 5 starter in a star-filled rotation.
Down 2-0, the Phillies rallied against Blake Treinen in the eighth. Chase Utley, 1 for 17 to that point, hit a one-out single. Ryan Howard followed with an opposite-field, RBI double off the left-field wall. Cesar Hernandez ran for Howard and scored the tying run on a single by Ruiz.
Pinch-hitter Clint Robinson’s RBI single off Jeanmar Gomez gave the Nationals a 2-0 lead in the eighth. Danny Espinosa, back to switch-hitting after hitting right-handed in spring training, led off with a double and scored on the hit.
A strong throw to the plate by Nationals second baseman Espinosa prevented a run in the first, when Utley was out trying to score from first on Howard’s double to right.