NATS OVERCOME SORIANO’S BLOWN SAVE TO TOP BREWERS
Jayson Werth hit a walk-off RBI double in the ninth inning to lift the Washington Nationals to a 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park Sunday afternoon, taking two of three from the Brewers to start the second half of the MLB season on a high note.
The Nats persevered despite a rocky start from Gio Gonzalez, who lasted just 3 ⅓ innings and, in that time, allowed three runs on four hits and tossed 88 pitches.
Washington got off to an early lead in the bottom of the second after Adam LaRoche singled on a grounder to left and, with one out, Bryce Harper singled, advancing LaRoche to third. As the third time’s the charm, Ian Desmond singled home LaRoche to make it 1-0 Nationals.
But Sunday was never meant to be a shining day for Gonzalez, it seemed.
After striking out Rickie Weeks to start the third, Gonzalez gave up back-to-back walks to Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez. Then, Jonathan Lucroy hit a soft grounder, and Gonzalez botched the play by lobbing the ball to first as Braun scored easily.
Khris Davis then singled to plate Ramirez and give the Brewers a 2-1 lead.
In the meantime, Brewers’ starter Yovani Gallardo gave the Nats few opportunities to play catch up, and Gonzalez’s luck didn’t change.
In the top of the fourth, Gonzalez gave up a lead-off double to Jean Segura, who advanced to third on Gallardo’s sacrifice bunt.
By then, Matt Williams had seen enough, and the Nats’ manager called upon Craig Stammen to provide relief.
Stammen forced Carlos Gomez to ground out to short, but Segura came home on the play to make it 3-1 Brewers.
It just so happened, however, that Stammen brought better luck for the Nats’ offense.
In the bottom of the fourth, after LaRoche walked, Ryan Zimmerman homered to right center to tie the game.
Harper struck out and Desmond flied to right before Jose Lobaton doubled on a liner in a similar spot. Stammen himself singled to keep the inning alive and, with Denard Span batting, Gallardo tossed a wild pitch that allowed Lobaton to score to put the Nats in front 4-3.
From that point on, both teams’ pitching corps were virtually lights-out.
Stammen allowed no hits through 2 ⅔ innings, Drew Storen allowed just a hit in the seventh, and Tyler Clippard struck out three in the eighth.
In the ninth, however, Rafael Soriano struggled.
After forcing Segura to pop out, pinch-hitter Scooter Gennett singled on a liner to right. Then, Gomez drew a walk before Rickie Weeks singled home pinch-runner Logan Schafer to tie the game.
But, the Nats still had some magic left.
In the bottom of the ninth, after Nate McLouth struck out swinging, Denard Span singled. Rendon replaced him at first on a force out, but he didn’t sacrifice speed on the basepaths.
The next batter was none other than Werth, who doubled home Span to win the game.
THE GOOD: You couldn’t ask anything more than to win the first series of the second half of the MLB season. While Gio Gonzalez lasted just over three innings, Matt Williams seemingly made the right call in looking to the bullpen early. Craig Stammen was sharp, and Clippard struck out the side in the eighth.
THE BAD: Rafael Soriano’s third blown save of the season nearly cost the Nats the sweep.
THE UGLY: Gonzalez seemed distracted in the third inning on the play that allowed Ryan Braun to score to tie the game 1-1.