For much of Wednesday night’s game, the Nationals offense looked the way it had looked for most of the series. While Chad Tracy had tied the first game with a home run in the ninth inning off of closer Jonathan Papelbon, the offense had been shut down by mediocre left hander and former Nat John Lannan and Philadelphia ace Cliff Lee. However the Nationals battled back against the Philadelphia bullpen and tied the game up in the late innings before Ian Desmondsfirst career grand slam led to a 6-2 Nationals victory.
For Gio Gonzalez, it was another start where he made a single mistake early that cost him a victory. After a leadoff walk to Ben Revere started the first inning, Michael Young tattooed a Gonzalez fastball just into the short left field porch for a homerun and an early 2-0 Phillies lead. However, Gio would not give the Phillies much else for the rest of the night, throwing seven innings and allowing just one more hit and walk the rest of his outing. Gonzalez ended up striking out a season high 11, including Ryan Howard three times.
On the other end of the rubber, Kyle Kendrick was just as masterful as Gio was. While Kendrick only struck out five, his success stemmed from his hard sinker which rendered the Nats lineup unable to hit anything but hard ground balls. Kendrick ended up throwing seven and two thirds innings of one run ball before departing with two outs in the eighth.
For the offense, the Nationals were unable throw up anything on the scoreboard until the seventh inning, when Jayson Werth lined a bullet base hit into right field to score Ryan Zimmerman. In the ninth, the Phillies sent out closer Jonathan Papelbon with a one run lead. Papelbon had been used in both of the previous games, blowing a save in the opener of the series(his first blown save of the year) before saving game two. Wednesday night, Denard Span led off the ninth with an infield single before Adam LaRoche walked with two away. Jayson Werth didn’t allow himself to get distracted by the chorus of boos by the Philly faithful and grounded a game tying single into left.
In the 11th inning, the Nats offense finally broke out in a big way. Ryan Zimmerman doubled with one out before Phillies right hander Michael Stutes walked LaRoche and Werth. Ian Desmond battled and fouled off several tough breaking pitches before he was locked up on a fastball on the inside edge. Despite more boos from the fans, it was called a ball and Desmond took advantage of the gift, smacking a hanging slider way over the wall in left center for his tenth home run of the year and the first grand slam of his career. Drew Storen(2-1) earned the win with a scoreless tenth and Rafael Soriano ended the game with a perfect 11th inning that was punctuated by a game ending strikeout of Ryan Howard, Howard’s fourth of the game.
On Thursday night, the Nats will return home to face a potent Rockies team. Despite the loss of All Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki the Rockies have been held up by MVP candidate Carlos Gonzalez, who has a league leading 21 homeruns and an OPS of over 1.000. In that game, Jordan Zimmerman(9-3) will try for his league leading tenth victory while Roy Oswalt will make his first major league start of the year for Colorado. First pitch is at 7:05.