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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."

By Gene Wang  |  May 8, 2010; 6:35 PM ET
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Next: A quick trip for Matt Chico


So who donned the Silver Fox this game? Chico?

Posted by: reddog278 | May 8, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

No, The Hammer did: 2 for 4 a triple and a home run, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI.

Posted by: periculum | May 8, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Doug Slaten next reliever up from Syracuse.

Posted by: periculum | May 8, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Just scanning the Chiefs website. He's not on the 40-man(?).

Posted by: reddog278 | May 8, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

We would have lost today's game if we had depended on you Adam Dunn to get a hit because Pinto had you struck out pal plain and simple, you looked like you've usually looked this season and that's pathetic especially against southpaw's the credit for today's win goes to JWill for his game tying homer, i'm sure Pinto is kicking himself at this very moment because he had you walking back to the dugout with the bat on your shoulder( a familliar pose for you this season) but that's why i love this game because you never know what will happen.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 8, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Um, dargregmag, you cannot both hit a batter and have him walking back to the dugout struck out on the same pitch, unless the batter is leaning way over the plate, which Dunn was not. That said, Dunn has just stood there in the final at bats in the two previous games (and been out on called strikes), which seems strange, and which also likely prompted your comment. Not like him. Wonder what's up there?

Posted by: NatsFly | May 8, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Natsfly i was obviously assumming based on Pinto's strategy and Dunn's swing's that had Pinto not been so careless Dunn was a dead man walking(back to the dugout!)and you're right i'm wondering like you what's up with him, either he's guessing wrong in certain situations or he's headed for a tough first half of the season.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 8, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Man, if we were in the AL West, we'd be in first place. Stupid NL East. grumble grumble... True, the airfare to attend home games would be a tad bit expensive, but totally worth it, imo. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 8, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh, err, um, as someone who didn't live here back in the day, that may have been a poor choice of team. NL Central, anyone? hehe...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 8, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey, we can have an extra kate!

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 8, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Wait, getting hit by a major league fastball is sissy? Not just for Willie Harris, but anybody?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 8, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

re: batters leaning into pitches: see unwritten rule #8 from this fascinating discussion:

That said, I really don't think Dunn leaned into that pitch. To me it looked like it was supposed to break, but it never moved close to the plate. And Dunn has too much class to pull that, even if he's slumping and the bases are loaded.

Posted by: hungrypug | May 9, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Dunn's OPS is .874, which is quite good. As always, he strikes out a lot, walks a lot, and hits homeruns. Slow start but much improvement in the last two weeks.

Posted by: markfromark | May 9, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

I know Slaten has been killing it in AAA, 17 Ks only 1 BB... but I wonder why Jesse English didn't get the nod? He proved to be effective up here. I think we'd be just as good getting rid of Walker, Batista, and Bruney and letting these other guys get a shot. I don't see how it could hurt.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | May 9, 2010 1:55 AM | Report abuse

(Maintains stance and flinches slightly as ball thuds into catcher's glove. Makes a sharp u-turn and slowly walks back to dugout, muttering to self.)


Hey, we can have an extra kate!

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 8, 2010 11:11 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 9, 2010 7:09 AM | Report abuse

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