ZIMMERMANN GETS 16th WIN, ZIMMERMAN HITS 17th HOMER IN WIN
The Washington Nationals are running out of games to make up ground on the wild card leaders, but they at least they are still winning games. Wednesday night, in front of a hostile Philadelphia crowd, the Nats scored single runs in the seventh and eighth innings which proved to be the difference in a 3-2 win over the Phillies.
The win tightens the Reds wild card lead to 6 1/2 games with just 22 games to play.
Jordan Zimmermann improved to 16-8 with the win. He gave up two earned runs on seven hits and one walk, striking out five. He beat Roy Halladay, who walked four and hit a batter in the first two innings, but escaped three different bases loaded situations with just one run against.
Halladay, who’s fastball has been severely diminished due to problems in his shoulder, allowed just three hits in six innings, but also walked grand total of five during his outing.
The Nats loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with two outs and the pitcher spot up, but manager Davey Johnson allowed Zimmermann to hit for himself. He bounced out to Halladay, snuffing a potential rally.
But the Nats got into the Phillies pen and took advantage as they had all series long. Zimmerman’ homer, a no-doubt-about-it shot in the seventh came off Zach Miner. One inning later, the Nats turned a walk, sacrifice, stolen base and fielder’s choice into the game’s winning run.
Wilson Ramos led the inning off with a walk off lefty Jake Diekman. Rookie Jeff Kobernus pinch-ran for the slow-footed catcher, and righty Scott Hairston pinch-hit for lefty Corey Brown. Hairston took the first two pitches for balls, then placed a perfect sacrifice to the third base side of the pitcher’s mound. Diekman (L, 1-4, 3.09) made a clean play to get Hairston at first, but Kobernus moved up a base.
Kobernus then stole second off the lefty reliever, and Steve Lombardozzi hit a ball to the right side that Chase Utley made a play on, but couldn’t get enough on the throw home and Kobernus raced home with out a tag.
The Phillies almost tied it up in the bottom of the frame. Utley singled with one out off Ian Krol and went to third on Carlos Ruiz’ single to center. Craig Stammen struck out Darin Ruf for the second out of the inning, but the ball got away from backup catcher Jhonatan Solano. Solano tracked the ball down and lunged back to home plate, where the hard-charging Utley tried to avoid the tag, but Solano got his glove on Utley’s hip before his hand hit home plate.
Rafael Soriano pitches a perfect ninth inning to earn his 38th save of the season.
THE GOOD: The Zimmerman(n)s. Jordan had a bit of a rough start, but settled down nicely. Ryan went 1-for-4 with the big home run and is hitting .333 over his last 10 games.
THE BAD: Ian Desmond. 0-for-4.
THE UGLY: Davey Johnson’s decision to allow Zimmermann to hit for himself in the fifth was a ballsy call. The Nats had a chance to bust that game open with one swing and two outs, and Davey decided that his team would be able to get into the Phillies bullpen and instead allowed his starter to give him another two quality innings to qualify for the win. Had it backfired, though…
THE STATS: 6 hits, 6 BBs, 8 Ks. 0-for-5 with RISP, 11 LOB. No errors, 2 DPs.
NEXT GAME: Friday, Sept. 6 in Miami against the Marlins. Dan Haren (8-12, 5.02) faces Jose Fernandez (10-6, 2.33).