The Washington Nationals were three outs away from being swept and left with a .500 record after 22 games.
Los Angeles Angels' closer Ernesto Frieri took the mound in the bottom of the ninth with a 4-1 lead after LA added an insurance run in the top of the inning on a Mike Trout RBI single.
Frieri had given up a home run by Ian Desmond two days earlier on the way to earning a save in the series opener, and he gave up another one in the first at bat of the ninth last night, serving up an 0-2 fastball for Nats' catcher Jose Lobaton, who pulled it down the right field line and tucked it into the right field bullpen to make it a 4-2 game.
One out later, Denard Span singled to center on a 1-2 fastball from Frieri and Anthony Rendon battled for seven pitches before taking a walk in front of Jayson Werth.
Werth took three straight balls from Frieri, who had thrown seven of eight pitches out of the zone at that point.
Frieri threw the 3-0 pitch over the plate and the Nationals' 34-year-old outfielder tore into it, sending a low liner by a diving David Freese at third for a two-run double that tied things up at 4-4.
Adam LaRoche stepped in next against a new pitcher, Fernando Salas, and lined a first-pitch fastball to left that brought Werth in from second for the walk-off win.
After the game, a relieved Nationals team relived yet another comeback win.
Werth swinging 3-0 was a surprise to some, though he's done it before. Nats' skipper Matt Williams said he gave his slugger the green light.
"Yeah, I gave it to him," Williams said. "He doesn't swing unless he's given the 3-0. But I trust him that if he's going to miss on a swing that it's going to be hit hard to his pull side and if it's not a pitch that he can do it with then he's not going to swing at it. But he's a veteran player I trust. He's done it a couple times this year, one was a home run, and one was double. He's comfortable with it, he knows what pitch to pick and how to go about doing it."
"I can't imagine anybody thinking [Werth] is going to swing 3-0 right there," LaRoche told reporters. "It surprised all of us. Came up huge. So, big win, needless to say. We needed that."
"It's one of those situations where if you hit into a double play right there it's probably the worst play you've ever seen, if you get a hit it's the best," Werth said. "So, I'm glad it worked out, that's for sure."
"Some guys are comfortable swinging 3-0," Werth continued, "some guys aren't. Sometimes even if you feel comfortable swinging 3-0 you don't really feel it, but for whatever reason I felt it and went for it."
"When I played for Charlie Manuel," the former Phillies' outfielder said, "he always talked about aim for the foul pole. I was just aiming for the foul pole. It worked out."
It was another comeback win for a Nationals team that has been behind early often this season and has managed to pull off a few improbable wins already.
"We don't want to lose," Gio Gonzalez said after last night's start, which he left after five innings down 2-1 to the Angels. "If you're thinking like that, you're going win a lot of games. The way we're playing is we want to go out there and win every game."
Asked if the Nationals as a team had any rally rituals, the 28-year-old left-hander joked, "We throw squids in the middle of the locker room."
The Nats' skipper said it was just another example of his team's determination to keep fighting.
"We want every one of them," Williams said. "And it doesn't look good being down in the ninth with their closer in there, at any point, but if they've shown anything it's that they fight and we gave ourselves more opportunities and a couple of hits from the middle of our order. They keep fighting all the way through."
"That's why we play 27 of them," he continued. "That's why we have to play every out. That's why it's important for us to keep giving ourselves the opportunity. Just for games like this."
While Werth came through with the game-tying hit, it was LaRoche who hit the walk-off winner.
"He knows the situation of the game and what he wants to do there and we've seen that from Adam all year," Williams said.
"The ability to hit the ball over the shortstop's head although they weren't really playing a shortstop [in the shift] but to hit the ball that way. That's the key for him to have success and drive in runs."
LaRoche was 0 for 4 against Salas before that at bat, but he got a pitch he liked and lined it to left for the game-winner.
"Fastball up over the plate," LaRoche said. "In that situation, just trying to hit something. I know he's got a good changeup, so I can't really sit on the fastball. Just tried to put a good swing on something. The damage was really done before my at bat. Some great at bats."
"It was a big one," LaRoche said. "You don't ever want to get swept, especially at home. So, to end the series with at least one is nice for us."
Werth too pointed to Jose Lobaton's home run as the catalyst that convinced the rest of the team that they weren't out of it.
"I feel like the Lobaton at bat, it was the spark we needed," he said. "It seems like, the last few days really we just can't get it going. We have our chances, but I think that was the hit we needed and some good at bats after that."
As for the Nationals' ability to keep coming back, Werth said he's experienced similar things before with other teams.
"I played on teams where it's just a feeling. You can't really explain it, but there's confidence there that you don't ever feel out. And I feel it on this team for sure."
"Last night we were sitting here talking about how bad we are," Werth said. " Tonight it's a different story. Crazy game."