Koda Glover took the mound on Friday night in Turner Field with one on and one out in the eighth and the Washington Nationals up 6-4 on the Atlanta Braves.
Matt Belisle started the eighth, but gave up a leadoff double by Dansby Swanson and had an error by Danny Espinosa on a Jace Peterson grounder to short put runners on first and third with no one out.
Swanson scored on a force at second on a grounder by Ender Inciarte before Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker turned to his hard-throwing 23-year-old reliever with a two-run lead.
Glover got a grounder to third from Jeff Francoeur, but Anthony Rendon threw the ball by second and into right field going for the force, allowing Enciarte to take third base.
Freddie Freeman stepped in next and hit a 98 mph first-pitch fastball to the wall in left-center for a game-tying two-run double.
With the go-ahead run at second, however, Glover popped Matt Kemp up, and after an intentional walk to Nick Markakis, got a fly to right from Tyler Flowers to keep it tied.
Wilson Ramos singled to center with one down in the ninth and his pinch runner, Pedro Severino, scored from second, after a groundout by Jayson Werth and a walk by Anthony Rendon, when Clint Robinson hit a two-out single to center to make it 7-6 Nationals.
“First they tried to give it to us then we tried to give it back,” Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters after Mark Melancon earned the save with a scoreless ninth.
“Our usual defense, sure-handed guys, we had a tough eighth inning,” Baker said.
“Boy, then Koda [Glover], I didn’t have [Oliver] Perez today and I didn’t have [Shawn] Kelley today, so we called upon the young man, Koda, he has an electric fastball, but he was facing a very good hitter in Freddie Freeman and you know, I don’t like to see Freddie up there any time.”
“Fortunately for us, Koda got out of that inning and then we had some guys get on in the ninth,” Baker said, “and then Big Clint came through with the clutch, clutch hit.
“Well, first it started out, Big Ramos got the hit to force them to be in the stretch, which is what you want.”
Glover was the pitcher of record when Robinson drove in the go-ahead run, so he got his first major league win after being charged with a blown save.
Baker said he was impressed with the way the right-hander maintained his composure after the Braves rallied to tie it.
“The thing about it is,” Baker explained, “when you give it up, then you’ve got to forget about that and bear down and get the next hitter, because you can’t do anything about what’s already happened. That was very mature of him. And you know he’s not scared. This guy is a warrior. He’s brave.”
It was a learning experience for Glover, and a good opportunity for Baker to see how his reliever reacted to adversity.
“Every time you send a young guy out there you’re finding out about him,” he said.
“And that wasn’t my thought process, my thought process was for him to get out of that and give us a chance to win the ballgame. Like I said, he’s not afraid, it just hurt that we didn’t have Kelley or Perez, and hopefully we’ll have them back tomorrow.
“And Melancon, he did a great, I mean, a great, great job.”
• We talked about the Nationals’ win, Ben Revere’s big catch, Baker’s bullpen decisions and more on Nats Nightly: