Published November 20, 2014
Pinch-hitter Wilson Ramos delivered an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning Friday night to give the Washington Nationals a 4-3 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Steve Lombardozzi started the winning rally against Michael Schwimer (0-1) by singling with two outs, and 19-year-old Bryce Harper — the youngest player in the majors — drew his third walk of the game before Jayson Werth walked, too, loading the bases.
That brought up Ramos, who hit a 1-2 pitch to bring home Lombardozzi and set off a celebration, with his teammates streaming out of the dugout to greet him at first base.
Ryan Perry (1-0), Washington's sixth pitcher, earned the win. He pitched a perfect 11th, getting the No. 3-4-5 hitters — Placido Polanco, Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino — on groundouts.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson called this game a "measuring stick" for his long-downtrodden but now NL East-leading club, against perennial division champion Philadelphia. The Nationals trailed 3-1, but tied it with two RBIs from Jesus Flores, one on a sacrifice fly in the sixth, the other a double in the eighth.
Much earlier, Pence and Carlos Ruiz homered off Stephen Strasburg, who had gone 66 innings without letting a ball leave the yard. Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick gave up one run in five innings — on Chad Tracy's solo shot — to outdo Strasburg, who entered as the reigning NL pitcher of the month, owning the second-best ERA in the league (it rose from 1.13 to 1.66 on Friday), and having allowed only one homer to a right-handed batter in his career.
Now he's allowed three.
Pence drove a first-pitch curveball over the fence in left-center for a two-run homer in the fourth. Entering Friday, Strasburg had gone 63 innings over 12 appearances without serving up a long ball to anyone — since Aug. 15, 2010, when current teammate Adam LaRoche homered for Arizona.
Then Ruiz began the fifth by sending an 0-1 pitch just to the right of the 402-foot sign in center, making it 3-1. There was a loud burst of excitement and cheers from Phillies fans when the ball cleared the wall, then jeers from Nationals supporters.
As part of a marketing campaign, the hosts put a makeshift banner reading "NATITUDE PARK" over where the stadium's real name is atop the scoreboard. They also tried a "Take Back the Park" campaign to keep out Phillies fans, making tickets for this three-game series available online only to season ticketholders and local fans from Washington, Maryland or Virginia.
It added up to an announced attendance of 34,377 — more than 10,000 above Washington's average, which ranks 14th in the 16-team NL — for a game filled with quirky plays.
Flores' sac fly brought Washington within 3-2 in the sixth, and after Jose Contreras hit a batter, Ian Desmond's sharp ball to shortstop should have loaded the bases with an infield single. But for some reason, Rick Ankiel rounded third as though on his way home. By the time Ankiel pulled up, it was too late, and he was thrown out scrambling back to third.
In the seventh, Victorino was called out trying to steal third, although TV replays appeared to show he was safe.
That was argued by bench coach Pete Mackanin, who managed the Phillies from the bottom of the first, when Charlie Manuel was ejected. With a runner on and one out, Harper checked his swing on a 3-1 pitch. Plate umpire Rob Drake called a ball, and Harper trotted to first. Ruiz, Philadelphia's catcher, pointed toward third, wanting to appeal to an umpire.
One problem: There was no umpire at third base.
The umpiring crew was a man short — Joe West missed the game because of illness — and the umpire who normally would be near third, Andy Fletcher, had shifted to be near second while there was a runner on first.
Manuel came out to argue, and was tossed.
In the seventh, Harper checked his swing again. Ruiz appealed again. Fletcher was there — and called strike three. Harper gestured with his hands and made a face, as if to say, "I can't believe that call." Fletcher barked back.
NOTES: Manuel said injured 2B Chase Utley (knee) is expected to join the team in Washington on Saturday for a workout and batting practice and then could go Sunday or Monday to Clearwater, Fla., for rehab work. ... Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman (on the DL; right shoulder) threw before Friday's game then hit off a tee and "had no discomfort," Johnson said. There's a "miniscule" chance Zimmerman will come off the DL on Sunday for the series finale against the Phillies, Johnson said, but Tuesday's series opener at Pittsburgh is more likely. ... 1B LaRoche missed a second consecutive game with a sore muscle in his right side. Asked whether LaRoche might go on the DL, Johnson said, "No." Then he paused, before adding: "Hoping he won't."