The Washington Nationals overcame a familiar quandary Friday night with an uncommon solution. They faced disaster hit their way out and hung on for dear life. After the Kansas City Royals bludgeoned Gio Gonzalez an offense that had shriveled under most any scenario exploded in dire circumstances. And when an unlikely savior came out of the bullpen and posted five zeros a blowout loss turned narrowly into a small milestone. Their slog of a season has forced the Nationals to amend their goals and they hit one Friday night at Kaufman Stadium with their 11-10 victory. Their fourth straight win which came only after they survived a nightmare ninth inning pushed the Nationals back to .500 for the first time since July 19. It came after a loopy game the Nationals at first refused to give away then in adherence with their ulcer-inducing road trip nearly did at the end. The Nationals remained 8 ½ games out of the second wild spot but another win allowed them to cling to optimism. “We got no other way to feel” said Jayson Werth who ripped a go-ahead two-run homer in the fourth. “We got nothing left. This is it.” Bryce Harper delivered both the lodestone of their seven-run fourth inning and a game-saving catch in a calamitous ninth inning. Tanner Roark protected the well-earned lead with 4 2 / 3 scoreless relief innings providing shelter for a weary bullpen and earning his fourth win in his sixth career appearance. “How about Roark?” Manager Davey Johnson said. “Unbelievable job.” Johnson called on Drew Storen to protect a four-run lead in the ninth and then pulled him after he walked one batter and gave up a double. Johnson fumed that Storen who had retired 15 of 16 hitters since coming back from Class AAA had not been more aggressive with a large lead. Rafael Soriano the closer whom Johnson deemed unavailable earlier in the day replaced Storen. He walked off the field with a look of boiling disbelief. “He can be mad at me” Johnson said. “But he should be mad at himself.” Soriano yielded two hits including a two-run single by former National Justin Maxwell that made it a one-run game with one out. Soriano has been shaky lately and another disaster seemed imminent. With one out Nationals outfielder moved back into “no doubles” defense trying to ensure Maxwell could not score from first. The alignment backfired when Emilio Bonifacio skied a fly ball to shallow right field. “I knew when the ball was hit it was going to be a tough play” Werth said. Harper darted in. He threw himself at the ball and made a sliding catch his fully extended as he snatched the ball from the tips of the grass. Harper landed hard on his right hip and knee which have bothered him all season. From across the field Werth worried Harper had re-injured his knee. Harper keeled over as he walked back to his position but he stayed in the game.
Nationals overcome six-run deficit, then hang on to beat Royals, 11-10
Washington Post | Aug 24