Washington got a three-run lead early tonight in Philadelphia when Wilson Ramos hit a three-run home run to center field in Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies battled back, however, scoring two runs in the fourth to make it a one-run game at 3-2. The Nationals added two runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth, but a three-run bottom of the sixth inning got the Phillies within two at 7-5. Corey Brown hit a solo home run to right in the seventh to make it 8-5 Nats, but Tyler Clippard surrendered a solo blast by Cody Asche in the bottom of the eighth and it was 8-6. It was not going to be easy.
Nationals' center fielder Denard Span connected for his third hit in six at bats with two down in the ninth, took third on a Ryan Zimmerman single and scored when Bryce Harper K'd swinging on a full-count change from Phillies' right-hander B.J. Rosenberg that got by catcher Carlos Ruiz. With a 9-6 lead after eight and a half, the Nats' turned to 33-year-old closer Rafael Soriano, who gave up a one-out line drive single to center and a walk to Freddy Galvis before getting a game-ending 6-4-3 DP. Soriano threw 11 pitches, just five of them strikes in home plate ump Paul Emmel's opinion. Davey Johnson said he wasn't sure about Emmel's zone in the ninth, but he was happy to take the second game of three in CBP.
"We thought some pitches were real close," Davey Johnson told reporters after the Nationals' 9-6 win. "We didn't get the call, and it looked like, 'Here we go,' but as ugly as it was, it sure was delightful to win."
The Nats' 70-year-old skipper wasn't surprised by his team's persistence as the Phillies tried time and again to get back in the game.
"We're battling all the time. I've got some gamers out there," Johnson said, and he was happy with the contribution he got from one of the Nats' September call-ups in his first at bat of the year in the majors.
"I was figuring we were going to have a couple guys on," Johnson said, looking back to the National's eighth, which started with a walk by Wilson Ramos, "... and Rendon hits into a double play. I know they were setting up to bring in the left-hander and I was waiting on that," but Phillies' manager Ryne Sandburg stuck with right-handed reliever Luis Garcia, ".... and so [Corey Brown] got to hit and hit probably the furthest ball he's ever hit in his life. That was a bomb and that was a big run."
It wasn't Gio Gonzalez's best start (5 2/3, 5 H, 5 R, 1 ER). Two of the Nats' nine runs came on bases-loaded walks. The Nationals took nine walks total from the Phillies' pitchers. Ryan Mattheus struggled again. Tyler Clippard gave up a run. Rafael Soriano made it interesting again. It wasn't pretty, but it was a win for a team that's desperate for them and still alive in September in spite of some of their continuing issues.
"We were a young team last year and we were in a pennant race and we handled it all right," Johnson told reporters, "We still aren't out of it, and we're just handling things as... you know, it's individuals. There's a few cracks in the dam. I need to plug them, I'm running out of fingers."
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