- Associated Press - Friday, May 2, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Cliff Lee outpitched Stephen Strasburg in a matchup of aces and turned a one-run lead over to the bullpen.

That’s a big problem for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Adam LaRoche’s tiebreaking single in the eighth inning helped the Washington Nationals rally from an early deficit to beat the Phillies 5-3 Friday night.

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After Lee departed, Mike Adams (1-1) and Jake Diekman allowed three runs and five hits in an inning.

The Phillies‘ relievers have a 5.07 ERA, worst in the NL. They’ve also blown six saves, though closer Jonathan Papelbon is 8 for 9.

“I think we’ll take Mike Adams in the eighth inning every time,” Lee said. “I know I will.”

Benches and bullpens emptied in the fifth after Denard Span exchanged words with Lee. Span was upset that Lee threw an inside fastball as he called time out.

After he grounded out, Span stopped between the plate and the mound on his way back to the dugout and said something to Lee. Players ran on the field, but nothing happened.

“He kept looking at me so I just said, ‘If you’re going to stand there in the box, be ready to hit,’” Lee said. “I’ll take that strike every time, but I threw a ball.”

Lee allowed two runs - one earned - and four hits, striking out five in seven innings.

Strasburg was hurt by an error on right fielder Jayson Werth, who dropped a foul ball two pitches before Marlon Byrd hit a three-run homer in the first inning. The hard-throwing right-hander gave up three unearned runs and six hits, striking out five in six innings.

Jerry Blevins (2-0) retired the two batters he faced in the seventh to earn the win. Rafael Soriano tossed a scoreless ninth for his sixth save in six tries and extended his scoreless streak to 23 innings, dating to last season.

The Phillies, who played just their second game in five days, have lost two in a row at home after a 6-4 trip to the West Coast. They had two scheduled days off this week and another game was rained out.

Strasburg retired the first two hitters before Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hit consecutive singles. Werth then let Byrd’s fly ball bounce off his glove after a long run near the foul line.

One pitch later, Byrd lined a 96 mph fastball into the seats in right-center to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead.

They were up 3-2 in the eighth when Span led off with a double off Adams. He stole third and scored on Anthony Rendon’s single to center to tie it at 3-3. Werth followed with a single up the middle.

“I have to be better,” Adams said. “I’ve been doing this long enough. I know what adjustments need to be made. I’m not going to dwell on it.”

Diekman replaced Adams and allowed LaRoche’s go-ahead RBI hit to center.

Ian Desmond followed with a double to right that just eluded Byrd’s diving attempt. Diekman escaped further trouble by striking out Danny Espinosa and Tyler Moore with runners on second and third. After Jose Lobaton walked to load the bases, Diekman struck out pinch-hitter Zach Walters.

“The eighth and ninth innings have been good for us with various guys we’ve used,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “I felt good at that point. Five consecutive hits is hard to do, but it happened.”

Moore connected off Lee in the third to cut it to 3-1.

Moore started the fifth with a single, advanced to third when Lobaton reached on second baseman Utley’s fielding error. After Strasburg sacrificed, Span drove in Moore on a groundout to Utley.

NOTES: Lee had four walks entering the game, but walked two, including Strasburg on four pitches. … Former Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who was 48 for 48 in save chances during Philadelphia’s 2008 World Series championship season, will throw out the first pitch Saturday night. … RHP Tanner Roark (2-0, 2.76) goes for the Nationals against Philadelphia’s A.J. Burnett (1-1, 2.15) on Saturday night.

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