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Willie Harris's inside-the-park homer and other leftovers

As Willie Harris circled the bases last night, he changed speeds twice. First, he sped up around second base, when he noticed the ball bounding away from Nate McLouth in center. Second, he slowed down around third base, when his tired legs left him no choice.

"I felt like I had a chance to make it," Harris said. "But I wasn't sure if I wanted to go."

Harris did go. "Just get there," he repeated to himself as he chugged home. When he saw catcher Brian McCann peel off to catch the relay throw, he knew he had made it. "Wow," he thought.

"It's definitely a great thing to say, 'I hit an inside-the-park home run,' " Harris said. "Dunner hits 40 a year. But he can't do that."

About two minutes after Harris slid home, MASN showed a classic shot of Harris in the dugout, dripping sweat and still gasping for air. Harris didn't recover fully into the next half inning.

"I was out there in there outfield, and I was like, 'Man, can I do this?' " Harris said. "I think we made a pitching change. I think that's when I finally caught back up."

Afterward, Harris had the ball in his locker. He planned to give it to his mother, Geraldine, who watched from home in Cairo, Ga. Harris's grandmother also lives in Cairo, and Harris may have explaining to do. She has been a Braves fans for 60 years.

"She loves herself some Bobby Cox.," Harris said. "She tells me, 'Baby, I want you to do well. But I also want the Braves to get the postseason.' "

The Nationals, of course, dealt the Braves a harsh blow. The Braves entered up a half-game in the wild card, and after their loss they had to sweat out the result of the Padres' game against the Reds.

"You've got to treat it like it's your playoffs," Adam Dunn said. "They're in their pennant race. We can look as it as we've got these guys and the Phillies coming in. It could be ours."

Said Harris: "It's good to beat them, but you want to see Bobby Cox make it to the playoffs in his final season. But we also have a job to do on our side."

The Nationals did theirs on the arm of Jordan Zimmermann. Manager Jim Riggleman felt Zimmermann had his best game tonight, even better than his one-hitter against the Florida Marlins. Zimmermann will make one more start this season, and he started gathering a promising finish with his work tonight, allowing three hits and a run in five innings.

"I needed a good start after the rough one I had," Zimmermann said. "There's still room for improvement."

Zimmermann's slider betrayed him in his last start, when the Phillies beat him around. He was not getting the full extension necessary to throw it with an over-the-top arm action. He threw his slider well in the minors, he said, "I got up here, and it hasn't been that good lately."

On Friday night, Zimmermann thought he threw better sliders, but he relied mostly on a sharp curveball as his breaking pitch. "The curveball has been the good the whole time so far, and the slider has kind of gone away," Zimmermann said.

By Adam Kilgore  | September 25, 2010; 12:29 AM ET
 
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Comments

How sad...
I was just at the Nationals home page to watch the video highlights of the game (wasn't able to watch it this eve), and the caption for Dunn's 2-run single was:

"9/24/10: Michael Dunn rips a single to right with the bases loaded to plate two runs, increasing the Nats' lead in the sixth inning"

Posted by: NatAlbert | September 25, 2010 1:21 AM | Report abuse

Adam, thanks so much for late report and please let somebody know that there's problems here with an O's spammer.

Posted by: nats24 | September 25, 2010 1:50 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, just who is this mysterious O's spammer?

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | September 25, 2010 2:38 AM | Report abuse

How sad...
I was just at the Nationals home page to watch the video highlights of the game (wasn't able to watch it this eve), and the caption for Dunn's 2-run single was:

"9/24/10: Michael Dunn rips a single to right with the bases loaded to plate two runs, increasing the Nats' lead in the sixth inning"

Posted by: NatAlbert | September 25, 2010 1:21 AM |

I can top that. At 9:00 am, this is the description of last night's game on the Nationals page:

"Adam Dunn hits two home runs and Willie Parker adds an inside-the-park homer to lift the Nationals past Atlanta and give Jordan Zimmermann his first win in 15 months."

I think they meant to say that Willie Parker hit an inside-the-harris homer.

Posted by: NoVaSnow | September 25, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

"Adam Dunn hits two home runs and Willie Parker adds an inside-the-park homer to lift the Nationals past Atlanta
===================================
"lift the Nationals past Atlanta?
Wouldn't he have been lifting the Nats past the Braves if the Nats had been trailing?

The Nats were up by 5 runs when Willie stepped up to the plate to take his first swing! Didn't we lead the whole game?

And to think, I missed the whole thing. when Ray Bob called Bob Bob "pardner" for the 587th time in the top of the 6th, I went to bed. Is it just my imagination, or does Ray Bob's drawl get drawlier when we play the Braves?

Posted by: ceejay3 | September 25, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Adam,

If Willie Harris's grandmother has been a Braves fan for 60 years, that goes back to the 1950 Boston Braves -- before they moved to Milwaukee. Are you sure that's right?

Posted by: ericp331 | September 25, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

To the Dunn-bashers: Sorry about last night. It must have been tough on you. Better luck today!

Maybe the Nats can encourage Willie to stick around so that the Nats still have some feared hitting to protect Zim in the 2011 line-up. Willie is affordable.

Posted by: EdDC | September 25, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Nice note for Willie to more ore less end his career with, assuming that this is it for him. This year's been unsuccessful, but he's put together a long time in the big leagues mostly with hustle and enough versatility to hang on. I guess everybody is rooting for Bobby.

Posted by: markfromark | September 25, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I may have posted this on another board orginially, but this is the new post-Rob Dibble era drinking game: every time Ray Knight refers to Bob Carpenter as "pardner," you take one shot, and two shots every time he calls him "Bobby." Guaratneed to get you sloshed by the fifth inning!

Posted by: thepostischeap | September 25, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I'm getting ready to go to the game for my 50th birthday today. Hope they keep up the good work, but I intend to enjoy it no matter what!

Posted by: skidge | September 25, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

When the Braves play the Nats i don't get Bob and Ray,i get Skip Carey and Jim Simpson(no, not that Jim Simpson)and both were pretty much bummed out last night.I am hoping that Rizzo was sitting with the Lerners, after AD's performance he made a concrete case for himself last night. I have been very critical of the big guy, that being said they need to sign him, he has indicated he would like to stay here in DC despite all this team's shortcomings so the Lerners need to get it done, can't wait to get to work monday,GO NATS!!!.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 25, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

darg, I believe you mean JOE Simpson, former big league outfielder...

Posted by: baltova1 | September 25, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

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