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Adam LaRoche's walk-off HR gives Nationals three straight walk-offs, seven straight wins

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The Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks traded leads and went to extra innings in the series opener in Nationals Park, but after Craig Stammen escaped a jam in the eleventh, Adam LaRoche hit a walk-off winner.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals battled back from a 1-0 deficit to take a 2-1 lead on a two-run Wilson Ramos' home run off Arizona Diamondbacks' lefty Vidal Nuno in the bottom of the seventh inning, but the D-Backs came right back and retook the lead on a two-run home run by Didi Gregorius in the top of the eighth, 3-2.

Denard Span doubled off reliever Brad Ziegler in the eighth and scored when Anthony Rendon tripled to right, 3-3.

Span's run scored tied it up and a sac fly to left by Jayson Werth brought Rendon in from third to make it 4-3 Nats.

"Stammen got in a situation and made quality pitches... was able to sink the balls and get foul balls and then got a couple strikeouts with the slider late." -Matt Williams on Craig Stammen's Houdini-ish 11th

Tyler Clippard came on to close it out in the ninth, with Rafael Soriano unavailable, and gave up a leadoff home run to right by Diamondbacks' right fielder David Peralta, 4-4.

The series opener in the nation's capital went to extra innings and it looked like the D-Backs were going to go ahead again when they loaded the bases against Craig Stammen with no one out in the top of the eleventh.

Craig Stammen was determined, however, and after he loaded the bases, he recorded three straight outs, getting Jake Lamb and Gregorious swinging with filthy two-strikes sliders and inducing a ground ball out from pinch hitter Cliff Pennington.

"Stammen got in a situation and made quality pitches," first-year Nats' manager Matt Williams told reporters after the game, which ended a half-inning later when Adam LaRoche hit a two-out, walk-off home run to right in Nats Park for the third straight walk-off win after the Nats beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in back-to-back games with a walk-off double by Wilson Ramos on Saturday and walk-off sac fly by Scott Hairston.

"[Stammen] got ahead of the guys, was able to sink the balls and get foul balls and then got a couple strikeouts with the slider late."

The Nationals' 30-year-old reliever was asked after the game if he thought there was any chance he was going to escape the bases-loaded, no-out jam? He said, "Yes."

"If you don't think you can," Stammen said, "you never will. So, obviously you've got to believe in yourself. Obviously the cards are stacked against me and there was only a certain way I was going to get out of it and luckily that's the way it went."

So how did he do it?

"Just started making good pitches," Stammen explained. "I just made good pitches and they didn't hit them. I got lucky."

Stammen got lucky in the top of the eleventh, and LaRoche got all of a hanging 3-1 slider from D-Backs' reliever Will Harris in the bottom of the inning.


"Adam has never done that before," Williams said, noting that the 34-year-old, 10-year veteran's 19th HR of the year and the 236th home run of his career was his first walk-off blast.

"In all of the home runs that he's hit he's never done that before," Williams said, "so that's a first for him."

The third walk-off win in three days, Williams said, was, "unconventional by every stretch of the imagination."

His team's tenacity?

"It's a fantastic trait to have that they never give up."

"We feel like we can win every game... even if we're down late. These last couple games have been like a roller coaster ride..." -Jordan Zimmermann on the Nats' three-straight walk-off wins

"We feel like we can win every game," Nationals' starter Jordan Zimmermann said after giving up four hits, three walks and three earned runs in seven innings of work.

"Even if we're down late. These last couple games have been like a roller coaster ride. We're up and then we're down and then we've got to come back and end up winning it."

"It's just part of the game," Williams said of the roller-coaster-ish past few days. "It happens sometimes. You never want it, by any means, you don't want that. But if you're given the situation and it's presented to you, you have one choice, you can give up or you can fight. And these guys fight. Which is great."

"They just keep fighting, man," Williams said. "They just keep fighting. Which is a great trait to have."

The long, close, tense games do have their drawbacks, of course.

"It doesn't help your bullpen, for sure," the Nats' skipper said. "Again, we want to make sure that we're mindful of everybody's health, and their load, but we get in a situation where we can win a game we have to try to do that too. So it's not easy, but it is baseball, that's why it's such a wonderful game. So we've got to play it till the end, till the last out is made."

The third-straight walk-off win was also the Nationals' seventh straight, a new season high. Williams was asked what it meant to him and his team?

"Nothing," he said. "Other than we have to play well again tomorrow. The good thing about these guys is that they don't look too far ahead, they don't look too far behind either. So, the game is presented to them on an everyday basis, they do what they can to win, and we'll forget about this one and get ready for tomorrow."

Williams was reminded tonight that he promised MASN's F.P. Santagelo in an interview earlier this season that he would recreate his old Babe Ruth impression if the Nationals ever won ten straight.


"I didn't necessarily want to bring that up," Williams joked, but he said it is still on the table.

"It is, yes it is. It's still available."

So has he started to practice the Ruthian trot and gestures?

"Not yet. Again, we don't look too far ahead, we've got to worry about tomorrow."