May 12, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Washington Nationals pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen (19) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home run in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The Nationals defeated the Diamondbacks 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Pair of Ninth Inning Homers Lead to Nats Win in Arizona Opener

Monday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks can be described no better than as a see-saw game.  In all, there were five lead changes, and it seemed that as soon as one team regained the lead, the other would storm back the next half inning.  Fortunately for the Nationals, their ninth inning rally ultimately proved to be the final lead change, ending the team’s three-game losing streak.

The Nationals got off to a hot start early in their first game in the desert this year.  Denard Span blasted the fifth pitch of the game, a changeup from D’backs swingman Josh Collmenter, into deep right center field for his third triple of young season.  Anthony Rendon followed with a fly ball that scored Span for an early 1-0 Nats lead.  For Rendon, it was his 24th RBI of the season, which leads all major league hitters who have spent the majority of their at bats in the two spot in the order.  In the top of the second inning, Tyler Moore hammered another Collmenter changeup to the bleachers in left center for his third homer of the season.

The two-run lead would stick until the bottom of the third inning, when a string of three doubles was capped off by a Miguel Montero to give Arizona a one run lead at 3-2.  The Nationals would immediately answer back in the fourth.  Wilson Ramos would work a walk off of Collmenter to start the frame, and Ian Desmond showed signs of busting out of his season long slump with a long home run to left center to regain the lead.

After his rough third inning, Jordan Zimmermann appeared to have settled down until the sixth inning, when Arizona center fielder A.J. Pollock launched an opposite field rocket of a two-run homer to regain the lead.  After that inning, it appeared the Nats were so close to regaining the lead on several occasions, but bad breaks and tough luck prevented that for the next two innings.  In the seventh, after a Nate McLouth walk, Span blasted another ball into right center.  Unfortunately for the Nationals, the ball bounced off of the warning track and into the pool in right center field for a ground-rule double.  Had the ball not bounced out 0f play, McLouth would have surely scored and Span would have had his second triple of the game.  The next at bat, the Nationals were robbed of two runs when Arizona shortstop Chris Owings made a sensational diving stop in the hole and threw Rendon out by less than a step.

In the ninth inning however, the Nationals started to hit the ball where the Diamondbacks couldn’t possibly get to. Danny Espinosa led off the frame with a line-drive homer off D’backs closer Addison Reed to tie the game, and after two quick outs Kevin Frandsen came off the bench and hit his second career pinch-hit home run to give the Nats the lead.  Despite a rocky bottom of the ninth, Rafael Soriano managed to escape the jam to earn his eighth save of the season.  Tyler Clippard (3-2) earned the win as the Nats prevailed 6-5.


Tags: Danny Espinosa Ian Desmond Jordan Zimmermann Kevin Frandsen Nationals Tyler Clippard Tyler Moore Washington Nationals

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