A two-run Ryan Zimmerman home run in the third put the Washington Nationals up 2-1 on the Colorado Rockies after Dexter Fowler scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first. In the bottom of the fourth, Troy Tulowitzki singled and scored to tie it at 2-2 on a Michael Cuddyer double when Jayson Werth misplayed a fly ball that bounced off the right field wall. Cuddyer took third on the play and scored on an RBI groundout by Rockies' catcher Wilin Rosario to put Colorado up 3-2. The one-run lead held up until the seventh when Ian Desmond singled and stole second with two down...
Rockies' reliever Wilton Lopez was then called for back-to-back balks which moved the Nationals' shortstop from second to third and then home for the game-tying run. The Nats added two more in the eighth when Zimmerman doubled in a run and Desmond hit an RBI single that ended up being the game-winner when the Rockies rallied for a run on Nationals' closer Rafael Soriano in the ninth.
Wilton Lopez was inconsolable after the balks and he got himself tossed for shouting angrily at first base ump John Hirschbeck after a play at first ended the Nats' eighth. Asked about the balks, one called by home plate ump James Hoye and second base ump Bob Davidson and the second by third base umpire Jim Reynolds, Nats' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters after the game that the umpires made the right call. "Actually he did it three times," the 70-year-old manager said, "they only called it twice. Kept going toward his glove and then he would stop and they called two out of three. But you can't be moving toward your glove and stop. It's an automatic balk, and it was very obvious."
The Nationals took advantage of the calls to tie the game up and eventually win. "We've been battling," Johnson said. "Today was a better day for the offense. We swung the bats better, and [starter Jeff Francis] has always been kind of tough on us. A lot of changeups and stuff, but, you know it's a good team win. We needed that." The win gave Washington two of three in Coors Field, four of their last five overall and lifted them back over .500 at 33-32 on the year, 5.5 games out of first in the NL East and 5.5 out in the Wild Card race after 65 games.
"We're getting healthier," the Nationals' manager said, "I got [Ross Detwiler] back in and [Stephen Strasburg] is coming this weekend and [Bryce Harper] is probably just around the corner." Detwiler returned to the mound for the first time since suffering an oblique strain in a May 15th start against the Dodgers in LA. Strasburg suffered a lat strain on the road in Turner Field in Atlanta. He's expected to return to the mound on Sunday afternoon in Cleveland opposite right-hander Corey Kluber. Gio Gonzalez starts the first game against the Indians' Justin Masterson tonight in Cleveland's Progressive Field. Jordan Zimmermann throws on Saturday afternoon against veteran left-hander Scott Kazmir.
Thursday afternoon in Coors Field, it was Detwiler on the hill for the Nats. The 27-year-old lefty was on a pitch limit in his first major league start in a month. Detwiler gave up six hits and three runs in 5.0 IP in which he threw 77 pitches, and he induced nine ground ball outs from the 21 batters he faced. Craig Stammen pitched two scoreless in relief. Xavier Cedeno and Drew Storen combined for a scoreless eighth and Rafael Soriano wrapped things up in spite of surrendering a run in the bottom of the ninth.
"[Det] really pitched good for being out for [as] long as he was," Davey Johnson said after the game, "and he went right to his pitch limit, 75 pitches, but he pitched a good ballgame. A couple balls dropped in normally we'd probably catch anywhere else, but the bullpen did a great job. Stammen shut the door, he usually comes along to get the win. He and [Tyler] Clippard are my good luck charms out there. But it was a well-played ballgame."
The Nationals play three this weekend in Cleveland then three in Philadelphia before they head home to the nation's capital to start another series with the Rockies next Thursday.