The Washington Nationals' ninth-inning rally today was all that spared them from a 1-5 road trip which started with three straight losses to the Oakland A's this past weekend. The Nats rallied for their 12th comeback victory in the first 40 games this season took two of three from Arizona in Chase Field.
It started with a Jayson Werth home run in the top of the seventh that tied things up at 1-1 in the series finale in Arizona, and continued when they got to D-Backs' reliever Brad Ziegler in the top of the ninth, scoring four runs on a bases-loaded single by Ian Desmond and a two-run line drive to center by Tyler Moore.
Ziegler entered the game with a 0.86 ERA, 18 scoreless innings in a row and only two runs allowed in 21 IP before he took today's loss.
"We needed this one," Matt Williams told reporters after the game.
"It salvages the road trip. It started off really bad for us and then we won the first one and it's nice to get this one to go home on a positive note with an off day so guys can get some rest."
The 30-year-old right-hander followed up on his rough 4 1/3 inning, nine-hit, seven-run start against the A's with a seven-inning outing in Chase Field in which he held the Diamondbacks to one run on five hits in his seven innings on the mound. The only run he did allow came on a 3-0 fastball to Aaron Hill that ended up at least five rows deep in the left field seats.
Williams said he thought the 6'8'' righty was, "Good. Really good today. Still, I think if you asked him, he wasn't as crisp as he wanted to be, but it was good and down in the zone, movement. We pushed him pretty good today. He feels good about it."
"Overall," Fister told reporters, "good things and bad things. Obviously some things I need to work on. Getting late in counts, getting behind a few hitters. There were some quality things that I felt -- getting on a roll and good rhythm with [Jose Lobaton], and he did a great job back there today. Letting the defense work, that's the name of the game."
Fister induced nine ground ball outs in seven innings. He struck out six and was up to 100 pitches when Williams hit for him with two down in the top of the eighth.
The difference between his first outing after just two rehab starts and his work today in Arizona, Fister said, was in the execution of his pitches.
"It's just finishing. It's just a matter of executing and getting out there," he said. "Same mindset. Same game plan. Same preparation. It's just a matter of going out there and doing it."
Williams said it was command of his sinker.
"It's a pitch that he can throw that he doesn't have to be on the corners," the Nats' skipper told reporters.
"Cause it's got such downward movement. Good angle. You know, [Brandon] McCarthy threw a lot of those today too. So, it's an effective pitch. Tall guys with good angle can use that effectively. So today he did."
McCarthy gave up just the Werth home run. He had a no-hitter through four. Pinch hitter Eric Chavez stepped in for McCarthy in the first at bat in the D-Backs' eighth, ending the right-hander's outing after he allowed just two hits total in seven innings.
Denard Span's 10-pitch walk in the top of the ninth started the game-winning rally, with Anthony Rendon doubling in the next at bat to put runners on second and third for Jayson Werth. Ian Desmond took the intentional walk the D-Backs issued to Werth personally and broke the tie game up with a single to left on the first pitch from Ziegler.
"They keep battling," Williams said. "Brandon shut us down for most of the game, but we were able to scratch one and tie and then got to a very good pitcher in Ziegler. So, had some good at bats."
"Those don't happen very often off of him," he continued. "[Ziegler's] got a miniscule ERA for a reason. So he's tough, especially on right-handers. But we were able to stay on a couple of baseballs today off him and get them in there."
The Nationals improved to 21-19 with the win. Up next are the New York Mets, who are in D.C. for the first game of a three-game series and the start of a three-week stretch in which the Nats play 15 of 19 games at home in the nation's capital.