"I looked at third, and I thought I saw him break down and stop. I guess he didn't break down as much as I though." -- Drew Sutton, Reds 2B, August 16, 2009.

THE RESULTS: Pinch hitter Ryan Zimmerman blooped a single to right center, scoring Adam Dunn and, eventually, Josh Willingham, wresting the lead from the Cincinnati Reds, as the Washington Nationals came from behind to win 5-4, taking three of four in the long weekend series.

The Nats record moves up to 43-75 with the victory.

The winning play was a comedy of errors. But for a change, it was the other team kicking the ball around. First, Zimmerman's single fell just in front of Chris Dickerson, inserted as a defensive replacement, and the ball caromed away from the outfielder. Dunn scored as the ball bounced around in the outfield.

Second baseman Drew Sutton chased the loose ball down, and non-challontly lobbed the ball toward first baseman Joey Votto behind the mound. Willingham noticed the casual nature of the toss, and broke from third as the ball was in the air. Votto fired to catcher Ryan Hanigan, and the ball arrived as Willingham did.

Willingham slammed into Hanigan, causing a rather spectacular mid-air crash, and Hanigan could not hold onto the ball. Willingham rolled across the plate with the ultimate winning run.

Photo 2009 © David Nichols. All Rights Reserved

Willingham also smashed a long home run into the second deck of the left field bleachers and finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs on the day. Wil Nieves had three hits at the bottom of the order as well.

Jorge Sosa (2-1, 2.38) got the win and Mike MacDougal recorded his 13th save.

THE TAKEAWAY: The theatrics were necessary because of two very distinct plays earlier in the game, both negative plays for the Nats, one physical and one very much mental.

The first was by starting pitcher John Lannan. With two outs in the fifth inning and a runner on third, he walked the rookie Sutton, hitting all of .175, on a 3-2 count. What followed was a run-scoring single by Votto and a three-run homer by Jonny Gomes.

Lannan was cruising until that point, having allowed just three hits into the fifth. He would go on to finish that inning and get two outs in the sixth, but was lifted after 109 pitches, 31 of which came after he walked Sutton.

The second play was a double mental mistake, both by a player and his manager.

In the sixth inning, after the Reds plated four runs, Dunn (2-for-2, two HBP, three runs) led off with a double that missed a homer by four feet. Willingham then blasted a ball to deep left off rookie starter Justin Lehr, and took third on a wild pitch that Elijah Dukes struck out on.

On the next pitch, interim manager Jim Riggleman called for a suicide squeeze. That was the first mistake. The squeeze is a play that very rarely works, and for a team that makes as many outs on the basepaths as the Nationals do, they don't need their skipper practically ordering them to.

The second mistake was that the hitter called upon to execute the squeeze, second baseman Alberto Gonzalez, failed to bunt. Not "failed to get the bunt down," but simply did not bunt at all -- as if he did not know a play was on. Willingham ran straight into an out. Two pitches later, Gonzalez grounded out for the third out of the inning.

So an inning which started with two loud doubles -- about 700 feet of doubles -- ended when the manager called for a play that almost never works and a hitter that forgot the play was on.

It's a game the Nats won, making three in a row. But they were lucky that on this day, one bad play by the opposition wiped out two mistakes that could have -- should have -- been avoided.

THE GOOD: Willingham. 3-for-4, home run, two runs, three RBIs.

THE BAD: Alberto Gonzalez. 0-for-3, and missed the suicide squeeze.

THE UGLY: Cristian Guzman. 0-for-5, tow strikeouts.

NEXT GAME: The Nats are off on Monday. They return to D.C. for a seven-game homestand starting Tuesday with the Colorado Rockies. Craig Stammen (3-6, 5.24) faces Ubaldo Jiminez (10-9, 3.47) at 7:05 pm at Nationals Park.