Michael A. Taylor, standing on third base with the bases loaded, sped home to score a run as the ball deflected off the glove of Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta.
Taylor then ducked his head to get out of the way of a throw by Iannetta towards the plate as Trea Turner, who is even faster than Taylor, came around from second to score another run on the passed ball with Ryan Zimmerman at the plate.
The Nationals, without the benefit of a hit, scored those two runs in the last of the fifth inning to take a lead of 3-1.
But the Rockies came back to win as former Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond blasted a solo homer to center on a 3-2 pitch from closer Sean Doolittle in the top of the ninth with two outs for a 6-5 victory.
The Rockies won three of four games in the series and Washington ended the season-opening homestead with three wins in 10 games.
Desmond, who played for Washington from 2009 to 2015, was playing at Nationals Park for the first time this weekend as a visiting player.
Washington (7-9) will begin a three-game series on Monday in New York against the first-place Mets, who won 11 of their first 13 games this year.
Rockies closer Wade Davis retired Ryan Zimmerman for the final out in the last of the ninth with a runner on base.
The Nationals had tied the game at 5-5 in the eighth as Taylor doubled to left with two outs, stole third and then scored on a wild pitch.
But DJ LeMahieu, who had two doubles and two homers Thursday, hit a solo homer off Nationals reliever Shawn Kelley in the eighth inning to give Colorado a 5-4 lead. It was the second homer allowed by Kelley in the series, after he gave up 12 in 2017.
The Nationals made another baserunning mistake in the seventh when Harper, who drew a walk to lead off the frame, was doubled off first on a long fly to center off the bat of Howie Kendrick to end the inning.
Matt Wieters, the Nationals catcher, had homered in the sixth to tie the game at 4-4. He was thrown out trying to steal with no outs in the eighth.
Rockies slugger Charlie Blackmon, after those two gift runs scored by Washington, hit a two-run double just past first baseman Zimmerman to tie the game at 3. Carlos Gonzalez followed with an RBI single against the shift to give Colorado a 4-3 advantage in the sixth.
Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg didn’t allow a hit until the fourth, when Blackmon blasted a solo homer on a full count to tie the game at 1-1.
Harper hit his league-leading seventh homer of the season in the last of the first to give Washington a 1-0 lead against starter Tyler Anderson, who gave up three runs (one earned) in 4.2 innings. The homer came on a day that Harper wore blue cleats with the No. 42 to honor Jackie Robinson.
Strasburg went six innings and allowed four runs on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts. He threw just 88 pitches, 52 for strikes.
Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon, who fouled a ball of his toe Friday, missed his second straight game. Wilmer Difo started at third for the Nationals, with Kendrick at second and Moises Sierra in left field.
Murphy headed to Florida
Washington second baseman Daniel Murphy, who has been on the disabled list to start the year, will head to Florida on Monday to play in extended spring training games, according to the Nationals. Murphy hit .322 last season and .347 in 2016, his first season with the Nationals.
Kendrick and Wilmer Difo have been seeing time at second in the absence of Murphy, who had knee surgery in October.
“Honestly, I don’t know, but I would think he’d have to treat it like spring training,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters about Murphy. “And we’ll see where he’s at. The biggest thing (after) we got this far (is) not to start pushing him. He’s progressing really well. We’ve just got to make sure we don’t push him too fast right now.”
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