Aug 7, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: After breaking out of a disappointing stretch with a lopsided win over the Mets on Wednesday night, the Nationals followed up with a second straight victory over New York, setting the stage for a huge series against the Braves in Atlanta this weekend.
This one came in extra innings and was punctuated by a Bryce Harper two-run homer for the walk-off victory in front of 38,611 at Nationals Park. It was the first walk-off home run for the Nationals this season.
Jordan Zimmermann was sharp most of the afternoon in the 5-3 win, carving the Mets lineup through six innings before running into trouble in the sixth. He finished with three earned runs on seven hits and no walks in 6 1/3 innings. The second and third runs came home thanks to a shaky inning of relief by Drew Storen who allowed the Mets to tie the game at 3-3.
The Nationals swiped an early lead thanks to the emerging bat of Adam LaRoche. The Nats first baseman scored two runs, both after leading off rallies with doubles.
Ian Desmond also starred in the Thursday matinee with three RBI on two hits. He had a two-run home run, his 18th homer of the season, and left the park with 69 RBI on the year.
Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom continued his impressive rookie season with a quality start, before his team rallied to give him a no-decision. The Mets’ bullpen pitched six scoreless innings before Carlos Torres let the game slip away.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Harper came to the plate in the bottom of the 13th mired in a slump, and just a day after national media was questioning whether a stint in the minor leagues would benefit him. He was 1-for-5 on the day before taking a fastball from Torres over the fence in left field, a ball that bounced in the visitors bullpen. It was his fourth home run of the season and gave him 16 RBI on the year.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Zimmermann was cruising through his start with just a run allowed through six innings. He then began the seventh by allowing singles to Wilmer Flores and Kirk Niewuwenhuis, recording one out in between the hits. Storen then took over and allowed both runners to advance on a wild pitch. A single by Eric Young, Jr. brought home Flores before another single by Curtis Granderson – on a ball that barely missed Desmond’s glove on a dive attempt – brought in Niewuenhuis to tie the game at 3-3.
STREAK WATCH: Span kept his streak of reaching base alive with a one-out single in the bottom of the third inning, pushing it to 33 consecutive games. That’s the longest active streak in the majors. He also now has an 11-game hit streak going, as well. Span had four singles on the day, giving him 41 multi-hit games on the season. That ties Hunter Pence for the most in the National League this year. Span is now hitting .300 with a .356 on-base percentage this season.
KEY STAT: With two doubles on Thursday, LaRoche is now 10-for-26 (.385) in the month of August with seven runs, four doubles, two home runs, four RBI and five walks in seven games. He had just four extra-base hits in 24 July games, but has six so far in August.
UP NEXT: The Nationals head to Atlanta to face the Braves in a pivotal three-game series. The Nats have a 4 1/2 game lead in the NL East and a huge opportunity to create some distance against a Braves team that has lost eight straight. Stephen Strasburg (8-9 3.39) will start against right-hander Ervin Santana (10-6, 3.59)
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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