by Anthony Amobi, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON – It’s been a tough couple of days for fans as they have had to endure two straight poundings at the hands of the Phillies, plus an ongoing controversy – at least online – about Opening Day.  Wednesday, however, turned out to be a good day for the Washington Nationals.

The Nats finally hit paydirt as they beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-5, for their first win of the young 2010 season, avoiding a three-game sweep. In a game that remained close from beginning to end, Washington broke a deadlocked game with the score tied at five in the bottom of the seventh as Ryan Zimmerman plated in Alberto Gonzalez with an RBI-double to right field.

Washington held their lead as Tyler Clippard came through in the clutch on the mound and pitched one and two-thirds innings of shutout ball for his first win of the season. Matt Capps (S,1), whose struggles were well documented in Spring Training, got his first save as a member of the Nationals.

Then again, Capps’ regular season debut in Washington was very much a tightrope walk. Down by a run in the ninth inning, the Phillies got two men on base with no outs (Chase Utley doubled, Ryan Howard reached via an intentional walk); however, Capps settled in and got three consecutive flyouts to end the contest.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s Nelson Figueroa (L, 0-1) – who was on the mound in the fateful seventh inning – took the loss.

The Nationals got the upper hand on the Phillies initially as they scored three times in their opening inning. They jumped on a shaky Kyle Kendrick – who started the game for Philadelphia – as he allowed Cristian Guzman to drive in a run with RBI-single, followed with an Adam Dunn groundout and a Josh Willingham sacrifice fly to center.

Craig Stammen, who earned the third spot in the rotation before the season, started on the mound for Washington and would get a no-decision. He gave up four runs in five innings of work.

Stammen would allow the Phillies to score in the second inning thanks to a Shane Victorino groundout. He would give another run in the third inning via a Chase Utley groundout.

With the score at 3-2 in the fourth inning, Willie Harris hit a two-run homer off Kendrick to give the Nationals a cushion with a 5-2 advantage; however, the Phillies would chip away at their lead in the fifth as Placido Polanco plated in Ross Gload – who reached on a single. Sadly, he was given a bit of help as Nyjer Morgan misplayed Polanco’s hit for a huge error. Moments later, Ryan Howard plated in Polanco with a single.

The Phillies tied the game at five in the sixth inning, as Jimmy Rollins plated Raul Ibanez – who reached on a walk – in the sixth inning with two outs in the frame.

Kyle Kendrick, like Stammen, earned a no-decision. He went only four innings and was charged with five runs.

With the first series of the season out of the way, the Nationals travel to New York to face the Mets for a three-game weekend set.

The Good: Ryan Zimmerman was 2-for-4 with two doubles and the deciding RBI in the seventh inning.

Cristian Guzman, the newly minted super-utility guy, went 2-for-4 with a double.

Matt Capps: It wasn’t pretty, but congrats on your first save as a National.

Tyler Clippard: He was clutch today and perhaps saved Washington to from potential doom. His pitching salvaged the game for the Nationals and allowed Zimmerman to perform his magic at the plate.

The Bad: Sean Burnett’s outing. One-third of an inning, two walks, one run. He pitched in the sixth inning and nearly opened up the flood gates for the dangerous Phillies until Clippard came into the game in relief and put out the fire.