Desmond gains redemption as Nats win in extras
CINCINNATI -- The Nationals showed on Saturday that their 15-0 loss to the Reds the previous day was history. Solo home runs by Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos in the 11th inning helped the Nationals edge the Reds, 7-6, at Great American Ball Park. Washington has won four of five games to start the season.
"After getting beat last night, you want to turn it back over and show that we are here to play and not let them roll over us again," Nats left-hander Ross Detwiler said.
With the score knotted at 5, the Nationals were able to score two runs in the 11th inning against right-hander J.J. Hoover. Desmond led off and hit a 2-2 pitch for a monster home run over the left-field wall. It made up for the two errors he committed earlier in the game.
"I was trying to figure it out. I was trying to get it together. My heart started beating a little bit," Desmond said. "I had to stop thinking so much. I was trying to get the barrel on the ball. I don't know why [I made the two errors]. Obviously, I'm doing the same things that I'm doing last year after a little shaky start. Luckily enough, I stayed with it and bounced back."
Two batters later, Ramos hit his second home run of the game, a monster shot over the center-field fence, to give Washington a two-run lead. Ramos is now 4-for-9 (.444) to start the season.
"He has been great ever since Day 1 of Spring Training," manager Davey Johnson said about Ramos. "He is swinging the bat great, catching great and [doing] everything great."
As it turned out, Reds manager Dusty Baker was short on relievers. Sean Marshall has shoulder fatigue and Manny Parra pitched on Friday and wasn't available.
"We didn't have Marshall and we didn't have Parra," Baker said. "We were hoping [Hoover] could get through that inning and we could get around to the top of our order. One hit was all we needed [several times in the game]."
Reliever Craig Stammen, who pitched the 10th and 11th, picked up his first win of the season. He entered the game after closer Rafael Soriano blew in the save in the ninth.
It was a game in which the Nationals had a 5-1 lead at one point. There was no score after two innings, but Bryce Harper changed things in the third against right-hander Mike Leake. With one out, Jayson Werth started things off with a double. Harper then swung at the first pitch he saw from Leake and clubbed the ball over the right-field wall for his third home run of the season.
The Reds made it a one-run game in the fourth inning. Brandon Phillips led off and reached base on a two-base error by Desmond. Two batters later, Phillips scored on a double by Todd Frazier.
Detwiler was the antithesis of Dan Haren's start the previous night. Haren pitched only four innings. Detwiler lasted six innings, allowing one unearned run on six hits, while striking out a batter. Like Haren, Detwiler had a long layoff. Prior to Saturday, Detwiler last pitched on March 27 against the Braves. But unlike Haren, the long layoff didn't hurt Detwiler. The only thing that layoff did was force Detwiler to overthrow his breaking pitches.
"I'm just excited to be out there, and it was a great day. So it really felt like spring out there," Detwiler said. "I was leaving the ball up. But when it came to it, I had to step back and really focus on keeping the ball down and try to get a ground ball."
It seemed every time he needed a ground ball, Detwiler would get it. For example, in the fifth inning, the Reds had runners on first and second with one out, but Phillips hit into a double play to end the threat.
"Every inning, I was trying to stay out of the windup the whole time, but it didn't work," Detwiler said. "I was throwing the ball in very well today, and really working with [Ramos] back there. I was keeping them off the sinker away."
Detwiler was given insurance runs in the latter innings. In the sixth inning, Leake allowed a two-run homer to Ramos. Can one imagine how Ramos felt after hitting the home run? It was at Great American Ball Park where he badly injured his right knee last year on May 12, while going after a wild pitch from right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. As he was going for the ball, Ramos' knee buckled and he would miss the rest of the season. The doctors would have to repair his anterior cruciate ligament.
Almost a year later, Ramos said he was excited to be back at Great American Ball Park -- and doesn't think about what happened last year.
"I know I got hurt here, but I forgot about it," Ramos said. "So today, I just [went] out there and [played] hard. It feels good at the plate, right now."
Werth hit a solo shot over the left-center field wall off reliever Sam LeCure in the seventh to pad the Nats' lead.
The Reds closed the gap against reliever Drew Storen in the eighth. Phillips scored on a single by Frazier, while Devin Mesoraco reached base on an error by Desmond, scoring Jay Bruce. Harper overthrew the cutoff man and allowed the runners to advance to second and third, but Cincinnati didn't score any more runs in the inning.
"[Harper] can't control his emotions. He is going to have to learn," manager Davey Johnson said. "He understands it, but he can't control his emotions. He is a smart player, but he gets wound up at any moment. If he keeps the ball down, then he throws him out."
But Soriano imploded in the ninth, allowing two runs. On a 2-2 pitch, Shin-Soo Choo hit a solo home run to make it a one-run game. Two batters later, Joey Votto tripled and then scored on a wild pitch by Soriano, who recorded his first blown save of the season.
"It was bad game. They hit two pitches -- one was the slider [for the home run by Choo] and then the wild pitch," Soriano said. "We'll come back tomorrow. It's another day tomorrow."
Reds closer Aroldis Chapman entered the 10th inning and dominated, striking out the side. But it was the Nationals who came up with the win.