Washington's 30-year-old center fielder entered the game with a .241/.287/.338 line, seven doubles and three triples in the first 32 games and 144 plate appearances of his second season with the Nationals. Five games into the Nats' six-game road trip, Span was 4 for 21 with a double, a triple, a walk and three Ks, and he was 4 for 24 after three trips to the plate today, lining out twice and grounding out to second the three times he faced D-Backs' starter Brandon McCarthy.
Span's 10-pitch, ninth-inning battle with Brad Ziegler ended with the first walk the 34-year-old reliever had issued in his last 10 2/3 IP. Anthony Rendon doubled to right in the at bat that followed sending Span around to third and both of them scored when Ian Desmond singled to left after the D-Backs walked Jayson Werth to get to him. The runs that scored on Desmond's hit were the first Ziegler allowed in 18 innings.
"Great at bat," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said of Span's rally-sparking AB.
"Got down early and battled his way back to a walk and then we have a lot of options there. I was thinking about hitting and running with Anthony, but then he went 0-1 and did a nice job of staying on a ball and hitting it over Gerardo [Parra's] head and we were in business."
Jayson Werth was 1 for 3 on the day at that point, with his home run accounting for the Nationals' only run scored through eight innings, so the Diamondbacks walked him to bring Desmond up with the bases loaded.
The Nats' shortstop's single to left was his second hit of the game and his fifth hit in his last 15 at bats.
"Gibby certainly wants to load the bases there and stay away from Jayson," Williams said. "And [Desmond] got a good one to hit and hit it. It's a good feeling for him. I'm glad to see that. It's a positive thing for him."
Desmond's 2 for 4 day at the plate left the 28-year-old infielder with a .226/.275/.368 line, five doubles, a triple and five home runs in 40 games and 167 plate appearances.
The Nationals improved to 21-19 with the win, which was their 12th comeback win in the first 40 games. They head home now for a three-game set with the New York Mets in the nation's capital.
"We needed this one," Matt Williams told reporters after the 5-1 win.
"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."
• Since there is a day off, we saved two episodes of Nats Nightly for today. Dave Nichols from the District Sports Page and I talk about the Nationals' loss on Tuesday and their win this afternoon:
D-Backs 3-1 over Nationals:
Nationals 5-1 over D-Backs: