Struggling to hit this season, Ian Desmond carried a Nationals offense struggling to hit Wednesday afternoon, and the shortstop drove in two runs to help the Nats get past the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-1.
Doug Fister returned to form in the rubber match of this three game series. In his last outing, his first with the club, the offseason acquisition from the Detroit Tigers threw only four innings and gave up five earned. Today’s outing was demonstrably better. Fister tossed seven strong, allowing only one run on five hits while striking out six.
Fielding a team that had five starters with a sub .300 OBP, the Nationals looked at times helpless against Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy. The righty came into the contest with an ERA of 5.66, but lowered that significantly after throwing eight innings of two hit ball with seven strikeouts. Aided by outstanding defense, McCarthy still managed to keep the Nats hitters off balance with an array of sinkers and control.
The Diamondbacks led off the scoring in the bottom of the fourth when Aaron Hill hit his fourth home run of the season. The Nats countered in the seventh when Jayson Werth once again provided a huge hit for the team, hitting a home run to centerfield. At the time, after failing to score the previous inning, the team looked poised to be shut out for the fourth time this season and for the third time in the last ten games.
Brad Ziegler (0-1) relieved McCarthy to start the ninth, and the Nationals took advantage when Desmond singled in two with the bases loaded, making the score 3-1. After a Danny Espinosa ground out, Tyler Moore singled, driving in Werth and Desmond.
Tyler Clippard (4-2) threw a perfect eighth while Rafael Soriano closed out the ninth. For Soriano, the outing didn’t result in a save, but it was good to see him regain some of his form after being hit around his last few outings.
Desmond recorded his first multi-hit game since April 26th, nearly three weeks ago. It was also the first time he’s driven in runs in three straight games since doing so April 9th through 11th.
The Nats won the series against the Diamondbacks 2-1 and finished their first West Coast trip this season going 2-4. For May the team is now 5-7, and with Atlanta’s loss this afternoon now sit 1 ½ games out of first in the East.
After having Thursday off, the Nats return home to play the New York Mets for a three game series. Tanner Roark is scheduled to start the opener.