Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
After last night's heroics, the Nats look to win in more conventional fashion.
Thursday vs. Mets: Ryan Zimmerman's sac fly scores Willie Harris. Nats win 2-1.
Saturday vs. Mets: Ivan Rodriguez's bases-loaded single to right scores Zimmerman to cap a three-run comeback and seal a 6-5 victory.
Last night vs. Padres: Zimmerman homers off Luke Gregerson to give the Nats a 6-5 win.
Actually, it could have been four walk-off wins in the last week had Roger Bernadina not been picked off second base Friday night and Harris had a chance to drive in the winning run.
So the Nationals clearly have established their ability to come from behind or pull out a late victory. Perhaps tonight they'll manage to take an early lead, hold it and then finish the Padres off in more conventional fashion. J.D. Martin faces Jon Garland on another disgustingly hot night on South Capitol Street.
Check back for updates before, during and after the game...
PADRES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly sunny, 96 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from CF
CF Nyjer Morgan
RF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Adam Kennedy
SS Ian Desmond
P J.D. Martin
CF Tony Gwynn Jr.
2B Jerry Hairston Jr.
1B Adrian Gonzalez
LF Scott Hairston
3B Chase Headley
C Nick Hundley
RF Aaron Cunningham
SS Everth Cabrera
P Jon Garland
6:14 p.m. -- If you haven't heard yet, Padres closer Heath Bell has been added to the All-Star team as a fill-in for injured Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo. So that means Bell is no longer in the running for the "Final Man" vote, which leaves Ryan Zimmerman up against three competitors: Joey Votto, Carlos Gonzalez and Billy Wagner. Voting continues until 4 p.m. tomorrow.
6:19 p.m. -- Tyler Walker is eligible to come off the 15-day DL already, but it sounds like the Nats will wait until after the All-Star break to make that move. Walker (right shoulder inflammation) is just beginning to throw again after receiving a cortisone shot last week.
6:58 p.m. -- Very nice rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" by the Brothers Flanagan quartet, which includes a regular commenter on here you all know as "Section 222." Well done, sir, and I see your home section just serenaded you all with a standing ovation as you departed the field!
7:06 p.m. -- J.D. Martin starts Tony Gwynn Jr. with strike one. Tonight's gametime temperature: A chilly 98 degrees.
7:09 p.m. -- The Padres have one legitimate power threat in their lineup: Adrian Gonzalez. And he just showed why. Martin placed a first-pitch fastball on the lower-outside corner, hardly a poor location, and Gonzalez ripped it to left field for a solo homer. That takes some serious power to hit that pitch the other way and over the fence. San Diego leads 1-0 heading to the bottom of the first.
7:30 p.m. -- Wow, what a beating the Nats just put on Jon Garland in the bottom of the first. Four runs. Four hits. First five batters all reached safely. Ryan Zimmerman's RBI single makes him 7-for-10 with three homers and seven RBI since he was named to the "Final Man" ballot on Sunday. Adam Dunn's blast into the Red Porch was his 18th homer of the year, but only his second three-run shot (he's only got five with ANYBODY on base). Just like that, Martin has a 4-1 lead to work with for the top of the second.
7:45 p.m. -- Things calmed down considerably in the second inning. Nothing doing on either side, with Martin allowing only a two-out double to Aaron Cunningham and Garland retiring the side. So the Nats still lead 4-1 after two.
7:59 p.m. -- As I said earlier, the only legitimate power threat in San Diego's lineup is Adrian Gonzalez. Who just roped another opposite-field drive, this one coming up a few feet short and only accounting for a two-out RBI double. First base was open. Interesting decision to pitch to Gonzalez instead of Scott Hairston behind him. Then again, the Nats were up three runs at the time. It's now, however, 4-2 in the middle of the third.
8:06 p.m. -- Adam Dunn strikes again. Clubs his second homer in as many at-bats, both of them into the Red Porch in left-center. Solo shot this time, but it's not like anyone had a choice. Dunn was leading off the bottom of the third. It's now 5-2 and looking like the kind of night that's going to include a lot of offense.
8:30 p.m. -- J.D. Martin is doing what J.D. Martin does: Keep his team in the game. Nothing spectacular out of the right-hander, but he's allowed two runs and four hits through five innings. Hasn't allowed a hit since Gonzalez's RBI double in the third. Nats still lead 5-2 in the bottom of the fifth.
8:46 p.m. -- Martin couldn't quite make it through the sixth. With two outs, he bobbled Chase Headley's comebacker for an error, then allowed a single to Nick Hundley. That brought Jim Riggleman out of the dugout and Joel Peralta out of the bullpen. Peralta proceeded to get a groundball out of Aaron Cunningham, extending his streak of scoreless innings since arriving in D.C. to seven. Not bad. Still 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth.
8:51 p.m. -- After homering last night for the first time since May 28, Ian Desmond said his shots "usually come in bunches." Well, he just struck again, blasting a pitch from Garland over the center-field fence for his second homer in two nights. Nats now lead 6-2.
9:00 p.m. -- I was just about to write something nice about Joel Peralta and note that if you combine his 34 relief appearances at Syracuse and Washington, his ERA is 0.89 and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is 43-to-8. But before I could type that, Peralta served up a homer to pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia and was yanked by Riggleman. So now Sean Burnett is pitching the top of the seventh, his team up 6-3.
9:12 p.m. -- We go to the eighth, and who's pitching for the Nationals, protecting a three-run lead and facing the left-handed Adrian Gonzalez? Drew Storen, not Tyler Clippard. New setup man?
9:25 p.m. -- Well, that wasn't exactly a smooth ride for Storen, but ultimately he held the lead. The only problem: It's now 6-5 thanks to two singles, a double and an RBI groundout. Storen wasn't helped by plate umpire Andy Fletcher, who squeezed him on what looked like strike three to Hundley before the double. Too late now. Nats cling to a one-run lead heading to the bottom of the eighth. Keep in mind this: Adrian Gonzalez is due up fourth for the Padres in the ninth. No margin for error.
9:35 p.m. -- Wow, Adam Dunn with the hat trick! Just blasted his third homer of the night, this one a solo shot to right-center off a lefty! First three-homer game of his career, and the admittedly small crowd of 13,762 coaxes him out of the dugout for a curtain call. It's now 7-5 in the bottom of the eighth.
9:43 p.m. -- Here comes Matt Capps with a two-run lead in hand. It's a special All-Star edition of The Final Countdown! Amazingly, he hasn't been presented with a save situation since June 22 against the Royals.
9:48 p.m. -- And Matt Stairs greets Capps with a shot into the left-field bullpen. It's now 7-6 with one out in the ninth.
10:00 p.m. -- Breathe easy, folks. It's over. Nats hang on to win 7-6. Capps gives up the run and puts two more men on base, but he gets his 23rd save. J.D. Martin gets his first win in seven tries. Nats will go for the sweep of the first-place Padres tomorrow night.