- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2017

For being one of the best pitchers in the majors, Stephen Strasburg has been given a lot of freedom when it comes to his approach.

“He can stand on his head if we can get people out,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said before Friday’s victory over Philadelphia.

Strasburg entered the season tweaking his mechanics with the goal of staying healthy in the long term, pitching from the stretch instead of winding up, and relying on his slider less.

In his third start of the year, he looked solid, pitching seven innings in a 3-2 win over the Phillies, striking out eight in the process and only allowing five hits.

The Nationals, however, had to rally to actually win the game — all they needed was some Daniel Murphy magic in the 10th inning.

Murphy, who has recorded a hit in every game this season, brought home Bryce Harper with a double sent to the left field foul line. To start the inning, Harper singled to shallow right.

It was the picture-perfect ending for Murphy, who went 2 of 5 on the day fans received his bobblehead.

The Nationals earlier rallied to get it to the extra inning.

Anthony Rendon, surprisingly, considering his slump to begin the year, doubled deep to right in the seventh inning, bringing home Chris Heisey from second to tie the game.

The Nationals needed to tie the game because in the fifth, Phillies center fielder Cesar Hernandez singled to center, bringing home Cameron Rupp from third to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.

It was one of Strasburg’s rare mistakes of the day. He wasn’t perfect, but kept the Nationals in the game. He gave up his first home run of the year when Tommy Joseph homered to center in the second inning.

The Nationals won just one game of a three-game series in Philadelphia last week, but open this weekend’s three-game homestand with a win.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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