Washington Nationals Recap: Ian Desmond Walk-Off Sac Fly In The 11th Gives Nats 5th Straight Win

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Tonight, it was all about the pitchers early on at Nats Park. Shelby Miller and Jordan Zimmermann were exchanging scoreless innings for the first six innings of the game. While the Nats broke through with a Bryce Harper RBI single in the seventh, Drew Storen blew the save by giving up a run in the ninth inning. However, in the 11th inning, Ian Desmond hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to left to give the Washington Nationals a 2-1 win, which is their fifth straight win overall and seventh straight against Atlanta.

First off, our thoughts and prayers here at District On Deck are with the Knorr Family as Kimberly Knorr, the wife of bench coach Randy Knorr, passed away yesterday. Knorr is not with the team and defensive assistant Mark Weidemaier will be the bench coach. Here were Matt Williams’ comments earlier today:

Through the first few innings, the Braves were getting singles against Jordan Zimmermann, but they were not able to put any big hits together. Plus, they made some mistakes on the base paths.

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In the second inning, Atlanta has two men on and one out after a Kelly Johnson single and Andrelton Simmons reaching on another Ian Desmond error, but Eury Perez grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to get Zimmermann out of the jam. Then, in the third, after Cameron Maybin singled with two outs, Zimmermann was able to pick him off trying to steal second to avoid any further trouble.

Even though Zimmermann got the no-decision tonight, the right-hander had one of his best starts of the season. He went eight innings, gave up six hits (all singles), struck out three, and walked no one on 100 pitches. Plus, with the eight scoreless innings, Nats starters have collectively not given up a run in their last 34.1 innings, which is a new club record.

Shelby Miller was just as dominant for the Braves tonight. After retiring the first ten Nats in order, Anthony Rendon got the Nationals in the hit column with a single to right field. However, Yunel Escobar grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Three innings later, the Nationals would be the first team to get on the scoreboard. After a leadoff walk by Span, Rendon hit one over Kelly Johnson’s head at third for a base hit to left field. Two batters later, with runners at the corners, Bryce Harper looped a ball just over the head of Jace Peterson and into right field for a base hit, scoring Span. His 58th RBI of the season gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead.

That would be the last inning Miller would throw. In seven innings of work, Miller gave up one run on three hits, struck out five, and walked one on 86 pitches in the no-deciion.

Drew Storen came on to close it out in the top of the ninth, but the Braves were able to string hits together in the beginning of the inning. Nick Markakis led off with a single, which was followed up by an A.J. Pierzynski single to right. Bryce Harper threw the ball to third, which allowed Pierzynski to go to second.

After an intentional walk to load the bases, Kelly Johnson hit a fly ball to center that was deep enough for Markakis to score, but Span threw out Joey Terdoslavich as he tried to tag up to second to get the double play. Storen, who would blow his second save of the season, would get  Simmons to ground out to second to keep the game tied.

Once the game reached extra innings, Casey Janssen and Felipe Rivero kept the Braves off the board in the 10th and 11th innings respectively. In the bottom of the 11th, Harper doubled to right against Dana Eveland. Once Wilson Ramos was walked and Clint Robinson was walked intentionally, the Braves went to David Aardsma to face Ian Desmond.

On the first pitch of the at-bat with the bases loaded, Desmond hit a fly ball to left field that was caught by Eury Perez, but was deep enough for Harper to score as the winning run. Felipe Rivero (1-0, 3.60) got the win while Dana Eveland (0-1, 6.75) took the loss for Atlanta.

Next Game: The Washington Nationals (39-33) will look for their second sweep of the Atlanta Braves (35-37) this season tomorrow afternoon at 4:05 PM ET. You can catch the game on MASN2. Doug Fister (2-3, 4.80) gets the start for the Nats against Matt Wisler (1-0, 1.13) for the Braves.

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