May 7, 2010, 4:26 AM EDT
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Willie Harris gets mobbed by teammates after his game-winning single.
Not that Willie Harris isn't always motivated to win a ballgame, but when Scott Olsen nearly throws a no-hitter and then nearly watches it all go down the drain, the motivation to come through in the clutch ramps up to even higher levels.
"When they tied the game up, it's like you get that feeling in your stomach," Harris said. "Like: Damn, man. This guy just went out and did so well and he's going to
get a no-decision."
Thanks to Harris, Olsen's brilliant performance did not go to waste. With one deft swing of the bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, he lined a single past Braves second baseman Martin Prado and gave the Nationals a thoroughly satisfying 3-2 victory.
This was the kind of game the Nats simply had to win. You don't squander a pitching performance like Olsen's, even though they almost did. When Tyler Clippard entered with the bases loaded in the eighth and served up a two-run single to Jason Heyward, the life was sucked out of Nationals Park. A crowd of 17,131 thought it was about to witness history. Instead, all it got was another tense ballgame.
But give the Nats credit for finishing this one off and ending the night on a high note. Clippard played a big role in that, bouncing back from the two-run single to get a double-play grounder to end the eighth and then another double-play grounder with the bases loaded to end the ninth.
That set the stage for a walk-off victory, which the Nationals wasted no time producing. Adam Kennedy led off the ninth by drawing a walk. Ryan Zimmerman then roped a double to deep right off Peter MoylanRead more »
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