Adam Dunn: 'We would have lost this game last year'
While Matt Chico got much of the attention following a 5-4 victory over Florida on Saturday at Nationals Park, another compelling story line continues to be how Washington is able to extracate itself from seemingly dire situations.
In this case, it was a one-run deficit entering the Nationals' half of the eighth. It was a situation Washington never figured it would be in considering Tyler Clippard, the normally dependable setup man, had entered the top of the inning with an ERA of 0.42 and 25 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings of all-star level work.
Clippard had inherited a runner at first base from Miguel Batista, who had retired one batter. A double play would get the Nationals out of the inning and preserve a 3-2 advantage. Furthermore, if that score went final, Chico would record his first victory in the major leagues since Sept. 9, 2007.
Up to the plate trotted Gaby Sanchez, who was 1 for 3 to that point. Clippard threw a ball, then two strikes, and it seemed he would dispatch this hitter without much issue. Then Sanchez drove Clippard's next offering to the left field seats to give Florida a 4-3 advantage.
Just like that, the Nationals had wasted all the good feeling from a solid start by Chico, not to mention Josh Willingham's RBI triple in the fourth inning followed immediately by Willie Harris's second home run of the season for a 3-0 lead.
"That's the good thing right now. We would have lost this game last year," first baseman Adam Dunn said. "It just seems we're finding ways to win close games. Last year, in the past, we would have lost."
Dunn had a lot to do with the Nationals comeback in the eighth inning, absorbing a pitch that connected with his right arm. As Dunn went to first with the bases loaded, Ian Desmond came home with the go-ahead run. Desmond had started the rally by reaching after getting hit by a pitch as the leadoff batter.
Cristian Guzman followed Desmond with a bunt single down the first base line that was misplayed by first baseman Gaby Sanchez. That allowed Desmond to move to third. After pinch hitter Nyjer Morgan grounded out to first, Ryan Zimmerman drew an intentional walk to load the bases, setting up Dunn.
Dunn fell behind 0-2 in the count, took a ball and then fouled off the next pitch before getting hit by Renyel Pinto. Closer Matt Capps did the rest with his 12th save in as many chances.
"It kind of ran in on me," Dunn said of the pitch that hit him. "If it's close, I'm not just going to sit there and take it. I think it's kind of a sissy way to to do it. That was a tough one to get out of the way of."
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