In an afternoon duel between two pitchers, the Washington Nationals needed a ninth inning rally to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix, 5-1.
From the early going, runs were at a premium as we witnessed a duel in the desert on the mound. Both Washignton’s Doug Fister (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 6 K, 100 PC) and Arizona’s Brandon McCarthy (8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 7 K, 101 PC) brought their ace material to the diamond. It wasn’t until the third inning that either team’s offense started to make some noise.
After both pitchers threw three scoreless innings, Aaron Hill (2-4, RBI) took Fister’s 3-0 pitch to deep left field in the bottom of the fourth to put the Diamondbacks ahead, 1-0. Following that, Fister settled and didn’t allow runner in scoring position for the rest of his outing.
An inning after Arizona put up their first run, the Nationals picked up their first base runner on a lead-off single up the middle by Ian Desmond (2-4, 2 RBI). McCarthy then got Danny Espinosa (0-4, 2K) and Jose Lobaton (0-4, 2 K) to strikeout while also getting Tyler Moore (1-4, 2 RBI) to pop out in between to end the Nationals’ hopes at a rally.
In the top of the sixth staring down a 1-0 deficit, Washington was gifted a base runner as Nate McLouth (1-4, SB) reached on an error. After stealing second, McLouth moved to third on a Fister sacrifice bunt. Denard Span (0-3, BB) and Anthony Rendon (1-4) then grounded out to end the inning and stranded McLouth 90 feet from home.
After a 1-2-3 inning from Fister in the bottom of the sixth, it was clear that Washington wouldn’t need many runs to win. The problem, however, was that runs were hard to find. That is, until Jayson Werth (1-3, HR, RBI, BB) stepped to the plate.
With his team needing some sort of offense, Werth led-off the seventh inning with a 2-0 homer (his 5th of the year) to left center. While one National got to McCarthy, the next six didn’t as all were retired to finish off his eight innings of work.
Tyler Clippard (1 IP, 2 K, 18 PC) then kept the Diamondbacks offense in check in his one inning of setup work. He induced a swinging strikeout from both Gerrardo Parra (2-4) and Martin Prado (0-4, 3 K) to end the inning.
Already this series, the Nationals needed some ninth inning drama to steal a victory. In Game 1, both Danny Espinosa and Kevin Frandsen homered in the ninth to give the Nationals the win, 6-5. On Wednesday afternoon, they would be the benefactors a little more ninth inning magic.
After Span walked to lead-off the inning, Rendon then followed that with a double to move them both into scoring position. With Werth intentionally put on first base, Desmond then singled to left to plate Rendon and Span. Two batters later, Moore singled to center to bring Werth and Desmond across for the Nationals’ final two runs.
Rafael Soriano then came on in a non-save situation and gave up a hit threw eight pitches. Desmond finished the game off with a 6-3 scoring on a double-play hit up the middle.
The Nationals finish the west coast road trip with a 2-4 record and will come home where they will play 15 of their next 19 games. It all begins on Friday night in Game 1 against the New York Mets. First pitch at Nationals Park is scheduled for 7:05 PM EST.
Brian Skinnell is a sports writer born and raised in the Washington, D.C.-metro area. He’s had work published on Yahoo Sports and Rant Sports, and has made several radio show appearances across the country to discuss his works. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+!