Late Runs Help Nats Overcome Rusty Ross


Given the way these last two days have gone, the Nats would be undefeated if they had a starting rotation composed entirely of Rosses. Do we have any Ross scouts? Did we draft any Rosses? Someone get on this!

Ross Detwiler did not look excellent in his return from his oblique injury, but consistent and timely offense picked him up as the Nationals (32-31) beat the Rockies 5-4 and won their mile-high series.

Apr 28, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Ross Detwiler (48) throws during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Detwiler was not performing to the standard that got him a 2.76 ERA before his injury, but he pitched well enough to keep the Nats competitive. Two hits for Colorado in the first yielded an early run, and runners reached in his scoreless second and third innings. Meanwhile, Ryan Zimmerman backed him up with a two-run homer that gave the Nats a 2-1 lead. The homer was the first and only one they hit this series, continuing their franchise-record streak of hitting at least one home run in 78 straight series, the longest active streak in baseball.

Three more hits and an RBI groundout in the fourth added two more runs to Colorado’s total, putting them on top 3-2, but the story of the game for the Rockies on offense was injuries. Carlos Gonzalez was struck in the ankle by a foul ball in the on-deck circle in the first and left the game, Dexter Fowler was hit by a pitch on the hand in the third and left, and Troy Tulowitzki left after the top of the eighth. He had been run into by a sliding Roger Bernadina at second, but was also slow to get up after diving for an Ian Desmond grounder. Nevertheless, without these All-Star bats, the Rockies still managed four runs on nine hits.

May 20, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Washington Nationals infielder Ian Desmond (20) prepares to field the ball against the San Francisco Giants in the fifth inning at AT

After his first 1-2-3 inning of the day, Detwiler was done. His final line: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, ND. Craig Stammen took over in the sixth as the Nats continued to struggle against Jeff Francis. Francis entered the day with a 6.30 ERA, but like many other bad pitchers before him, he handled the Nationals easily. His final line demonstrated his level of control: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. Through this season, the Rockies’ starters have struggled while the bullpen has excelled, but the opposite was true today.

Things started falling apart for Colorado in the seventh. Ian Desmond singled, his third of four on the day, and stole second off of Wilton Lopez with two outs. In a bizarre sequence of events, Lopez balked twice to move Desmond to third and then home, tying the game. As embarrassing as that was, it got worse in the eighth. Matt Belisle allowed the tie to be broken by allowing two doubles, two walks, and an infield single that put the Nats up 5-3. The first run was driven in by Zimmerman, who was 2-4 with a homer, a double, and three RBI. The second was driven in by Desmond, who was 4-4 with a run scored and an RBI. He is now on a 15-game hitting streak, and has bumped his average all the way up to .293

After Xavier Cedeno and Drew Storen combined to get a perfect eighth, Rafael Soriano made things a bit dicey in the ninth. Singles by Nolan Arenado and Todd Helton cut the lead to 5-4 with two outs, but Soriano got a popout to end it and earn his 17th save. Winners of four of their last five, the Nationals are now above .500 and trail the Braves by just 5.5 games.

Next Game: Friday in Cleveland, 7:05 PM. Gonzalez (3-3, 3.59) v. Masterson (8-5, 3.68)