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Davey says it, Nats rebound with walk-off win

@jessicacamerato
September 12, 2020

WASHINGTON -- “You score five runs early like that, you should win the ballgame.” Nationals manager Dave Martinez spoke those words on Thursday, after his team had given up a second-inning five-run lead in a disappointing loss to the Braves. Washington had built an ample cushion, but its pitchers had

WASHINGTON -- “You score five runs early like that, you should win the ballgame.”

Nationals manager Dave Martinez spoke those words on Thursday, after his team had given up a second-inning five-run lead in a disappointing loss to the Braves. Washington had built an ample cushion, but its pitchers had erred in their execution against a hot-hitting club.

“Those guys are our horses,” Martinez hadff said of his pitchers. “They’ve been throwing the ball really well. We’ll go back tomorrow, hopefully [we’ll get] the lead again in the seventh, and you’ll see those guys out there again.”

Box score

Friday night's 8-7 walk-off win over the Braves in 12 innings -- won off the bat of Michael A. Taylor -- began just as Martinez had outlined it. The Nationals took another 5-0 lead over Atlanta in the third inning and were up by three heading into the ninth.

Daniel Hudson needed to retire one more batter to redeem the Nats from the previous night, but he allowed the Braves to force extra innings via a three-run frame.

Facing season's close, FA, Doolittle hits IL

“I wish we would have won it in nine innings,” Martinez said. “But the boys, they battled back.”

For three innings, the Nationals fended off one Braves threat after another. Kyle Finnegan, who made his Major League debut this season at 28 years old, stayed cool under pressure to throw scoreless 10th and 11th innings. Even when he intentionally walked the hot-hitting Freddie Freeman to load the bases with one out in the 11th, he got out Marcell Ozuna -- who had homered in the eighth as part of a five-hit night -- and Travis d'Arnaud to end the threat.

It was the first of two times the Nationals evaded a bases-loaded one-out situation in extras

“It’s kind of a refreshing mindset in that point, honestly, because it’s, 'Don’t let them score. Do whatever you can to keep the guy from touching home plate,'” Finnegan said. “Strike one is huge there. Get them defensive, get them out of their plan and try to be nasty right there.”

James Bourque, the Nats’ No. 25 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was asked to freeze the Braves in the 12th. Four days after being called up from the alternate training site, he escaped a bases-loaded jam by getting Nick Markakis to ground into a double play.

“[Finnegan] was phenomenal. He’s been really good all year. ... He knew what he wanted to do. He went out there and competed and got big outs for us,” Martinez said. “Kudos to Bourque, too. He went out there and got a ground-ball double play and got us to that next half-inning. I’m proud of both those guys.”

The performances of the two relievers -- both of whom were vying for roster spots during Spring Training -- set the stage for the do-it-all Taylor to deliver late-game heroics. Tied 7-7, Taylor drove in Adam Eaton, who began the 12th as the automatic runner on second, with a single to right field off Atlanta reliever Grant Dayton.

“On the pitch, I was just trying to see it deep,” Taylor said. “And when I looked up and saw that it was going to get over, just a sigh of relief that marathon was over.”

Four hours and 48 minutes after first pitch, the Nationals captured a walk-off win. As Martinez urged the night before, if they score five early runs, they should emerge with the victory.

“A win is a win is a win,” Martinez said. “When you battle like we did tonight, it was good to come out on top. I’m proud of the boys. They didn’t quit.”

Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.