May 13, 2015, 1:18 PM EDT
PHOENIX — The Nationals talk about winning series, not individual games, and they’ve been quite good at that lately, winning their last four series (twice over the Braves, once apiece over the Mets and Marlins). They’ll need a win today at Chase Field, though, to continue that streak, with the rubber game of this series on tap.
After Stephen Strasburg went only 3 1/3 innings last night, the Nationals will need a quality outing out of Gio Gonzalez today. (Though by using Clint Robinson as a mop-up reliever last night, Matt Williams does still have a fairly fresh bullpen at his disposal, with Tanner Roark, Blake Treinen, Matt Thornton and Drew Storen all having had at least one day off.)
It’s a familiar-looking lineup for the Nats, aside from Jose Lobaton catching instead of Wilson Ramos. Another byproduct of back-to-back blowout games here: Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond all got a chance to take several innings off, negating the need for a full day off.
It’s a big day/night for D.C. sports, and it all starts right here, so please check back for updates…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Where: Chase Field, Phoenix
Gametime: 3:40 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB Network (outside D.C. market), MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, XM 869
Weather: Mostly sunny, 87 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to LF
CF Denard Span
3B Yunel Escobar
LF Jayson Werth
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Ian Desmond
C Jose Lobaton
2B Danny Espinosa
LHP Gio Gonzalez
CF Ender Inciarte
RF Mark Trumbo
1B Paul Goldschmidt
CF A.J. Pollack
3B Aaron Hill
2B Chris Owings
C Jordan Pacheco
SS Nick Ahmed
RHP Jeremy Hellickson
HP Rob Drake
1B Joe West (cc)
2B Tom Woodring
3B Gabe Morales
3:40 p.m. — And we’re underway with the roof open here at Chase Field. It’s a very comfortable 85 degrees as Jeremy Hellickson fires his first pitch to Denard Span.
3:54 p.m. — A scoreless top of the first, which featured a pair of strikeouts from Gio Gonzalez, who needed only 12 pitches (9 strikes) to get through his frame.
4:01 p.m. — Ho-hum, just another laser of a double from Bryce Harper, now 14 for his last 30. Unfortunately, the Nats wasted it. Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Jose Lobaton all grounded out to the right side, ending that potential rally in the top of the second.
4:30 p.m. — The D’backs got a run in the bottom of the second on Nick Ahmed’s base hit to left, with Jose Lobaton unable to handle Jayson Werth’s one-hop throw to the plate. Werth did make up for it, though, with a towering, 3-run homer onto the overhang above the left-center field fence in the top of the third, putting the Nats up 3-1.
4:52 p.m. — But then Gio Gonzalez gave all three runs back in the bottom of the third, an inning that featured two walks and an Ian Desmond error. It also featured a rare Matt Williams mound visit, not to remove his pitcher but to speak his mind. Williams was pretty animated in his conversation with the entire infield, and Gonzalez did respond to get out of the inning without any more damage. But he’s at 59 pitches on a day when the Nats really need innings out of him. They trail 4-3 heading to the fourth.
5:06 p.m. — A much-needed, 9-pitch fourth inning for Gio. Though it did begin with a base hit surrendered to the opposing pitcher. Still 4-3 heading to the fifth, with the top of the Nats’ lineup due up.
5:29 p.m. — Paul Goldschmidt is trying for the natural cycle today. He singled in the first, doubled in the second and just tripled in the fifth. That put him in position to score on A.J. Pollack’s single to left. So the Nats now trail 5-3 after five, with Gio Gonzalez at 84 pitches.
5:58 p.m. — Whoa, Tyler Moore delivers a pinch-hit, 2-run homer off the foul pole to tie this game in the top of the sixth. That was Moore’s first pinch-hit homer since Sept. 2012, his rookie season. He’s been waiting a long time to do that again. Tanner Roark came in to pitch the bottom of the sixth and got into a jam — second and third, one out — but battled through a 9-pitch at-bat to get Mark Trumbo to pop out, then after intentionally walking Goldschmidt got Pollack to ground out. So this is a 5-5 game now heading to the seventh.
6:13 p.m. — Double-whoa. Bryce Harper and Matt Williams were just ejected as the top of the seventh came to a close, Harper for arguing that plate umpire Rob Drake rung him up on a check-swing without appealing to third base. Bryce got right up in Drake’s face and stayed there awhile while getting tossed. Williams then charged out and got ejected himself defending Harper. So now Michael Taylor’s in right field and Randy Knorr is managing the final few innings of a 5-5 game.
6:26 p.m. — A big strikeout from Matt Thornton to end the seventh with the go-ahead runner on third, keeping this a 5-5 game.
6:52 p.m. — Aaron Barrett got a huge strikeout of Goldschmidt in the bottom of the eighth, but he couldn’t put away Yasmany Tomas, who lined a 2-2 pitch up the middle to give the D’backs a 6-5 lead as we now head to the ninth.
7:08 p.m. — Sweet. Fancy. Moses. Michael Taylor (the guy who replaced Harper after the ejection) just hit a grand slam in the top of the ninth to give the Nats a 9-6 lead. You can’t make this stuff up.
7:18 p.m. — Ballgame. Nats win 9-6 after a scoreless ninth from Drew Storen. They win their fifth straight series, and they win this one in most dramatic fashion. On to San Diego for a 4-game weekend set.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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