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Ninth-inning grand slam lifts Nationals over Arizona


Ninth-inning grand slam lifts Nationals over Arizona

FINAL: Nationals 9, Diamondbacks 6

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: When Bryce Harper and Matt Williams were ejected in the top of the seventh inning Wednesday afternoon, you couldn't help but sense that controversy would end up affecting the outcome of this game, good or bad. Turns out it did have a dramatic effect on the outcome, in a surprisingly positive way.

Michael Taylor, who took over for Harper in the cleanup spot following his ejection, launched a grand slam in the top of the ninth off Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed, bringing the Nationals back to win the game and their fifth straight series in stunning fashion.

Jayson Werth also belted a 3-run homer to left-center in the top of the third, then Tyler Moore hit the foul pole for a 2-run, pinch-hit homer in the top of the sixth that tied this game 5-5. That's when the real  fireworks began. Harper was ejected by Rob Drake in the top of the seventh on a check-swing call, upset that Drake wouldn't appeal to third base umpire Gabe Morales. Williams also was ejected after coming to Harper's defense, leaving Taylor in the cleanup spot and Randy Knorr managing the final innings of a close ballgame.

The Nationals bullpen got some really big outs along the way, with Tanner Roark, Matt Thornton and Aaron Barrett notching big strikeouts late. But Barrett couldn't make one final pitch to Yasmany Tomas, who lined a 2-out, RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Diamondbacks the lead. That lead was short-lived, though, with Taylor flipping the script in most-dramatic fashion.


HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Wouldn't you know Taylor would find himself in this situation: Batting with the bases loaded in the ninth, the spot that would've been Harper's if not for the ejection. And wouldn't you know the rookie outfielder would seize the moment like that? Taylor crushed a low 1-0 fastball from Reed to center field, sending the ball flying into a little cut-out in the batter's eye where TV cameras are stationed. The crowd of 19,026 was left in stunned silence over the blast, Taylor's first career grand slam.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Gio Gonzalez had been quite impressive over his last few starts, working a quick pace, keeping his pitch count down and giving the Nationals innings. But when they needed more of that Wednesday, the left-hander couldn't deliver. He gave up five runs in five laborious innings, done in by a couple of walks, three extra-base hits and a whole lot of pitches. At one point, Williams came to the mound for a rare visit that didn't result in a pitching change. The skipper was clearly agitated and let the entire Nats infield have it, with Gonzalez front and center.

KEY STAT: Tanner Roark threw a 96-mph fastball in the sixth inning, matching the hardest pitch he has ever thrown in his big-league career.

UP NEXT: The Nationals head to San Diego for the rest of this road trip and a 4-game series at Petco Park. Doug Fister (2-1, 2.87) faces Tyson Ross (1-3, 3.98) in Thursday's late-night opener at 10:10 p.m. EDT.

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The Met whose 3-run HR buried the Nationals Wednesday night had just taken a 2-hour Uber to the game

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The Met whose 3-run HR buried the Nationals Wednesday night had just taken a 2-hour Uber to the game

The Washington Nationals just can't catch a break, now 11 games under .500 after last night's dismal 6-1 loss to the New York Mets.

This time, the loss came at the hands of usually the most reliable reliever for the Nats, Sean Doolittle, who came into the game during the 8th inning with two runners on and two outs.

Wednesday night, he was not so reliable.

Doolittle failed to get that last out, hitting Carlos Gomez, then Juan Lagares cleared the bases to make it 3-1 on a double.

Then, with two on, Rajai Davis, who had just come up from the minor leagues, stepped up to the plate.

Davis had just taken a two hour Uber ride from Lehigh Valley, PA., arriving during the third inning of the game and getting lost upon arrival when trying to find the clubhouse. Davis was put in to face Doolittle during the eighth as a pinch hitter and his first career at-bat as a Met.

Of course, Davis delivered with a three-run home run to seal the 6-1 win.

A pinch-hitter with his first career at-bat as a Met hitting a three-run homer is a poetic end for the failing Nationals, now with a 6.98 ERA, the worst in Major League Baseball.

The Nats are now in danger of being swept by the Mets, now third in the NL East, with a 12:10 matinee Thursday again at Citi Field.



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Nationals Roundup: Nats in danger of sweep after coughing up late lead to Mets

Nationals Roundup: Nats in danger of sweep after coughing up late lead to Mets

The Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 6-1, Wednesday to drop their record to 19-30.

Consider these news pieces and notes as Washington limps through its four-game series in New York: 

Players Notes:

NATIONALS (19-30): 

'Mad Max' was in full effect Wednesday night, doing what he does. Max Scherzer pitched six scoreless innings of four-hit baseball while issuing two walks and striking out nine Mets. 73 of his 109 pitches were thrown for strikes. His 11-pitch 6th inning put the bullpen in a position for success. But, if you've been watching this team this season, you know what that means. 

Adam Eaton's first base hit of the series came in the form of a first-inning dinger off Jacob deGrom. That's the only run that would come across the plate for Washington Wednesday night. 

For once, it wasn't Sean Doolittle's night. The closer surrendered a bases-clearing double to Juan Lagares in the 8th and the Mets never looked back notching six unanswered runs late. 

METS (23-25): 

Jacob deGrom was once again in elite form going head-to-head against Scherzer. New York's ace threw six innings of two-hit baseball while only allowing one run (Eaton's solo shot) and walking three Nats. 63 of his 103 pitches were thrown for strikes and he struck out eight batters. 

Offensive production didn't come until the 11th hour for New York. The Juan Lagares double and Rajai Davis 3-run home run combined to tally six runs in the 8th leading the Mets to their 23rd win of the year. 


SP Jeremy Hellickson: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 31

RP Justin Miller: shoulder, expected to be out until at least May 31

SP Anibal Sanchez: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 27

OF Andrew Stevenson: back, expected to be out until at least May 24

1B Ryan Zimmerman: foot, expected to be out until at least May 23

RP Koda Glover: elbow, expected to be out until at least May 25

RP Trevor Rosenthal: viral infection, Expected to be out until at least May 21

RP Austen Williams: shoulder, expected to be out until at least Jun 13

Coming Up:

Thursday, 5/23: Nationals @ Mets, 12:10 p.m. ET, Citi Field

Friday, 5/24: Marlins @ Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park

Saturday, 5/25: Marlins @ Nationals, 4:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park