Nats come back twice to win a wild one

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Nats come back twice to win a wild one

The 2012 Washington Nationals just will not go down without a fight. After losing the lead on a blown save in the ninth and twice being one out from defeat, the Nats beat the Mets 5-4 on a wild pitch by Pedro Beato that brought Ryan Zimmerman home for the walk-off win.

The victory was their second of the season on a game-ending wild pitch, but given the lead changes it may have been their most exciting win all year.

Thats my kind of ballgame, manager Davey Johnson said. Ive said it a hundred times, the makeup on this ballclub is off the charts. Theres no give-up, they are all competitive.

The Nats rallied to tie the game in the tenth after catcher Jhonatan Solano led off with a single. Bryce Harper then belted a 1-0 slider off Tim Byrdak, a line drive that flew over Scott Hairstons head and bounced off the wall. Solano scored to make it 4-4 and Harper broke up a David Wright tag attempt on a head-first slide to land safely at third.

The Mets then intentionally walked Zimmerman and Ian Desmond to get Tyler Moore to the plate. Moore took the wild pitch on a 1-2 count against Beato to let Zimmerman come home.

I'm trying to make him hurry up, tell him come on and score, Moore said. It was going on long enough. I'm just glad we got a run across.

I didn't know it got away at first because he was kind of blocking me with the angle but it hit the dirt pretty hard and it bounced up on him. I'm just glad it got away from him enough where we could score.

Moore hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to put the Nats up 1-0, his fifth of the season. He is just 25 years old and in his first big league season, one of the youngest players along with Harper, 19, who had the game-tying hit. 23-year-old Steve Lombardozzi also had a big hit in giving the Nats a two-run led in the eighth with an RBI single, along with some key defensive plays at second base.

The trio of young players once again played a role in a Nats victory and their manager has taken notice.

They have been doing it all year, Johnson said. Tyler Moore and Lombardozzi, it is a tribute to the organization. They got some really smart people out there, really signing good athletes with good makeup. Theyve been doing it every year since Ive been here and theres more coming.

The Nationals also saw a great performance from their young pitcher in 26-year-old Ross Detwiler. Detwiler pitched seven scoreless innings and would have been the story of the game if it werent for a few late mistakes by the bullpen. Detwiler finished with zero earned runs, five hits, no walks, and four strikeouts. He left the game with only 86 pitches and would have liked to stay in for the eighth.

I think Johnson knows that. I know what hes doing there. I kind of struggled my last couple outings and he wants me to get out of there with a chance to get the victory," Detwiler said. "But I thought I had a little more in the tank, but what is it, 112 here today?

It was actually 99 degrees when Detwiler threw the first pitch, but the seven innings he lasted was the most he has pitched in a game all year. He has pitched at least seven just three times in his career with a career high of 7.1 innings in 2011. All in all it was the best outing of Detwilers season and that is saying something. He now sits with a 3.15 ERA through 85.2 innings this year, pretty good for a fifth starter.

The shame of the game is that Det played a great game. That was an unbelievable game, I mean eleven days off and seven strong innings, Johnson said. He just really pitched great. He had great stuff, his fastball was just diving and moving. It was just a great effort, its a shame we wasted it for him.

Detwiler left after seven with a one-run lead and a shutout going. Sean Burnett took care of business in the eighth, but Tyler Clippard struggled and blew the save in the ninth. He gave the Mets a lead on a three-run homer by a pinch-hitting Jordany Valdespin. Danny Espinosa then tied the game for the Nationals in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single to score Ian Desmond.

Michael Gonzalez started the tenth and gave up a leadoff single to Daniel Murphy. Murphy was advanced to second on a Kirk Nieuwenhuis sacrifice bunt and then scored home on a double by Josh Thole.

The Nationals moved to 52-36 on the season, sixteen games above .500 on July 17 for the first time since moving to Washington. With the Braves recent hot streak, the Nats will have to make close games like this one count if they want to hold on and win the division.

Thats what first-place teams do. They find a way to win every game possible. This is a big month for us, playing the Marlins, Mets and Braves coming in next, Detwiler said. We just need to go out there and do the best we can to win every game.

NL East: Barry Bonds wouldn't take picture with Dodgers star Pederson

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NL East: Barry Bonds wouldn't take picture with Dodgers star Pederson

Apparently being an MLB All-Star and home run derby runner-up is not enough for Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds to take a picture with you.

That's according to Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, a 2015 NL All-Star. He said he tried to take a picture with Bonds before a Marlins-Dodgers game last month and got rejected.

Ouch. Pederson described the interaction on Fox Sports Live and it sounds like he was pretty surprised by Bonds' reaction. Then again, who wouldn't be? It seems like a simple request.

Many athletes current and former take pictures with fans all the time and those are just fans. It would seem even more likely to get that picture if you are part of their fraternity as a pro ball player.

Here is Pederson describing the exchange on FS1:

[Via Sports Illustrated]

Daniel Murphy owns up to costly error after loss to Mets

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Daniel Murphy owns up to costly error after loss to Mets

The margin for error is always going to be slim when you're facing your most closely-matched division rival and when they've got a pitcher as lethal as lefty Steven Matz on the mound, and on Wednesday it was a mistake by Daniel Murphy at second base that loomed large in a 2-0 Nationals loss to the New York Mets.

With the Nats down a run in the seventh inning and Mets infielder Matt Reynolds on first base, first baseman Eric Campbell smacked a hard groundball to Murphy at second. It shot up to the left of his glove and through his legs into center field.

That put runners on the corners with one out and set up an RBI single to left field by Mets catcher Rene Rivera. The score was then 2-0 and that would hold until the final out was made.

After the game Murphy brought up his mistake on his own when asked an unrelated question. 

"I misplayed another groundball, which just needs to stop happening. I just need to work harder on that," Murphy said of his team-high fifth error of the season.

Murphy came to the Nats with a reputation for subpar defensive play and this was the most obvious case so far of it affecting the outcome of a game. Though the Nats didn't score any runs on the day, Murphy explained how he thinks his mistake altered the momentum and scope of the contest.

"I think it was a double play ball and [Tanner Roark] should have gotten out of the inning. Then it was 2-0 and it just changes our approach from an offensive perspective," he said.

Murphy was asked if the ball took a bad bounce and he declined to go there, instead referring to the sequence as a "bad play by me."

His manager, Dusty Baker, didn't fault Murphy for the loss and instead focused on the dominant performance by Mets starter Steven Matz.

"Errors are part of the game," Baker said.

Baker, of course, can live with the occasional error as long as Murphy is atop the majors with a .394 batting average. Murphy's OPS is 1.043 and he's on pace for a career-high in homers. He's been as important to the Nationals' first-place start through 47 games as anybody.

Murphy knows defense is an area of game that needs improvement and Baker is not too concerned about it at this point.

"Murph works hard at it, he works very hard and he takes it hard when he doesn't make the plays," Baker said.

Matz too much as Mets take finale and series against Nationals

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Matz too much as Mets take finale and series against Nationals

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 2-0 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park.

How it happened: Facing any pitcher for the first time can be a challenge, especially when that foe is an emerging star lefty with a mid-90s sinker that dives over the plate like a fighter jet.

Mets southpaw Steven Matz has had his way with the Nationals on Wednesday, just as he has with the rest of the league in his brief MLB career. He went eight efficient, shutout innings with just four hits allowed, at times retiring Nationals hitters with leisure. Perhaps they'll have better luck the next time they see him, but this simply wasn't their day.

Matz outdueled Nats starter Tanner Roark, who was pretty good himself. He went seven innings with two runs allowed, only one of them earned. The second came home after a Daniel Murphy error that ultimately proved a costly one.

What it means: The Mets have evened up the season series at 3-3 and cut the Nats' division lead back to a half-game in the NL East. The Nationals fell to 28-19 on the year with the St. Louis Cardinals up next.

Roark strong again: Roark was excellent in his first meeting with the Mets of this season despite giving up an early run on a homer to David Wright in the first inning. The right-hander settled in after that and at one point retired eight in a row from the second through the fourth. Roark did let another run in in the seventh inning before he was removed, but it wasn't earned. That's thanks to Murphy's error on a hard-hit groundball right to him by Eric Campbell. Murphy couldn't corral it and that set up runners on the corners for Rene Rivera, who singled to left field to make it 2-0 Mets. It was Murphy's fifth error this season, most on the Nationals.

Roark finished with seven innings and one earned run on five hits, two walks and five strikeouts. He threw 113 total pitches and made it at least seven innings for the fifth time in 10 starts this season. It was the sixth time he's gone at least six innings with one earned run or less allowed. It's also the fourth time this season he's reached the 110-pitch mark.

Matz tough in first matchup: This was the first time the Nationals had ever faced Matz and the lefty certainly didn't take it easy on them. Matz dazzled with a mid-90s sinker combined with a sharp slider to go eight shutout innings. He was pulled after throwing 104 pitches with seven strikeouts and just four hits and a walk allowed. Michael Taylor, Wilson Ramos, Clint Robinson and Murphy were the only ones to get hits off of him. Matz held Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon to a combined 0-for-9 with three strikeouts. Before giving up the hit to Robinson - who pinch-hit in the eighth - he had retired 16 straight batters. He allowed Robinson's single with two outs and then got Bryce Harper - who also pinch-hit - to ground out and end the frame.

Murphy nears Nats record: Murphy may have committed a costly error, but he also inched closer to setting a Nationals record for most hits in a single month with an infield single in the first inning on Wednesday. That gave him 38 hits in the month, just two away from Denard Span's record of 40 set in August of 2014. The Nats have six more games left in May, plenty of time for Murphy to break it. And if he does, he will have set a Nats hits record in just his second month with the team.

Schu ejected: Nats hitting coach Rick Schu was tossed by home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn in the bottom of the fifth for arguing about the strike zone. It happened after Chris Heisey struck out looking against Matz. Schu was seen on the TV replay in the dugout taunting Reyburn by waving his hand over his head. It was Schu's first ejection as a member of the Nats' coaching staff.

Good attendance: The Nats and Mets drew 38,700 for the series finale on Wednesday. That's a sellout and the second-largest crowd of the season so far at Nationals Park.

Up next: The Nationals turn their attention towards the St. Louis Cardinals, who come to Washington for a four-game series through the weekend. Thursday's series opener will pit Joe Ross (3-4, 2.70) against Cardinals right-hander Mike Leake (3-3, 4.07) with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.