"It was an awesome win." --Stephen Strasburg, who did not factor in the decision in the Nats' 6-5 win over the Mets. 

Pudge Rodriguez mobbed by teammates after game-winning hit (Photo by Max Cook/WeLoveDC.com)

THE RESULT:  The Washington Nationals started the second half of the 2010 season in exciting fashion, scoring four runs in the final two frames -- including a three-run ninth -- beating the New York Mets 6-5, before a sold out crowd that came to see a long-since showered Stephen Strasburg.

Ivan Rodriguez, displaying the veteran leadership the team hoped to see when they brought him in on a two-year contract this season, delivered a bases loaded single to right field, plating Ryan Zimmerman with the game-winning run -- with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning.

It was a furious ninth inning rally.  Cristian Guzman led off with a four-pitch walk from Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez (L, 2-2).  Nyjer Morgan grounded to third, moving Guzman up to second.  Willie Harris, mired in one of the worst slumps of his career, singled to send Guzman to third.

Zimmerman drew a full count walk to load the bases for Adam Dunn.

The big slugger sent a towering blast to straight-away center field, and Angel Pagan leaped for the ball at the fence, but it hit off the top of the wall and bounced back into the field of play, sending runners scurrying.

Harris was running all the way from second, while Guzman went back to tag up at third out of an abundance of caution.  Harris almost ran into Guzman at the bag, but managed to not pass him to suffer an ignominous out.  After the shenanigans, both players crossed the plate, with Harris sliding in just as the ball reached catcher Josh Thole.

Adam Dunn's blast bounced off the top of the wall for two-run double. (Photo by Max Cook/WeLoveDC.com)

With the game tied and runners are second and third, the Mets chose to walk Josh Willingham intentionally, bringing up Rodriguez, the future Hall-of-Famer.

All Pudge did was deliver a solid single to right over the drawn-in infield for the game-winner.the win t

"The win was real special," said Manager Jim Riggleman.  "It was against a real good ball club... Being down, as much as we've struggled lately, to just keep fighting -- I'm very proud of our ball players."

The heroics made a winner out of Matt Capps (2-3), who came in during the top of the ninth to get out of a two-on, no-out jam set up by Doug Slaten.

Drew Storen threw two innings of perfect relief, striking out three.

All this came after the player everyone came to see, Stephen Strasburg, left the game.

Strasburg did not have his best outing of the year today, but gutted out five innings of four-hit, three-walk ball.  He gave up two earned runs and struck out five in the no-decision.

His roughest inning was the first, a 37-pitch struggle with his four-seam fastball.  He threw three walks in the frame, all to left-handed batters, with his rising fastball elevating high and outside to each.

"Bottom line, I went out there extremely sped up.  It was one of those days where I tried to do too much," Strasburg said after the celebration had calmed down.  "It wasn't one the greatest performances, but the guys really came through today."

Stephen Strasburg fought early wildness to complete five innings. (Photo by Max Cook/WeLoveDC.com)

After he settled down, he allowed just three more batters to reach in four innings.

"Once I slowed down a little bit, it all started to work."

THE GOOD:  Ivan Rodriguez.  He went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and the game-winning hit.  Adam Dunn went 3-for-5 with two RBIs as well.  Storen was excellent for two innings to let the Nats get back into this one.

Pudge delivers for the Nats. (Photo by Max Cook/WeLoveDC.com)

THE BAD:  Nyjer Morgan went 0-for-5. 

Tyler Clippard was awful again today.  In 2/3 of an inning, he gave up three earned runs on four hits and a walk in the eighth inning, triggering the need for the late comeback.

THE UGLY:  It might get lost in the "feel good" of the win, but Riggleman's decision to pinch-hit J.D. Martin for Strasburg in the fifth inning was a head scratcher.  Down just 2-0, the skipper basically gave up an out inthe middle of the game because he didn't want to burn up a bench player.

Roger Bernadina was out with tightness in his back, and before the game the Nats media relations said he'd be available.  But apparently when Riggleman went to check on him to hit for Strasburg, Bernadina told his manager he coudn't go.  That left Riggleman with the decision to burn Michael Morse in the situation, or sent up a pitcher to pinch-hit.

The Nats best hitting pitcher, Craig Stammen, pitches tomorrow, so they left him on the bench.  It's the second time this season Riggleman has pinch-hit for a pitcher with another pitcher.

THE STATS:  Washington went 6-for-13 with runners in scoring position, but left 11 men on base.  They walked six times and struck out six times.  They also committed two errors.

NEXT GAME:  Sunday, Independence Day, July 4th!  Stammen (2-2, 5.13) hosts Hisanori Takahashi (6-3, 4.24) at 1:35 pm at Nationals Park.

NOTES:  Washington won for the first time when trailing after eight innings since Justin Maxwell's grand slam the last game of the season last year...against the Mets' Francisco Rodriguez.

Jordan Zimmermann made his first rehab start for Single-A Potomac earlier this afternoon as he continues his return from Tommy John surgery.  He went two innings and allowed two base hits.  He walked none and did not give up a run.  He threw 25 pitches, 16 for strikes.


  1. Anonymous // July 3, 2010 at 10:05 PM  

    They are damned lucky that Harris did not pass Guzman on the base path. Another out of control bit of base running.