WASHINGTON – Jayson Werth's bases-loaded single off Reds closer Sean Marshall with one out in the bottom of the 13th inning Friday night gave the Washington Nationals their fourth consecutive victory, a 2-1 comeback against the Cincinnati Reds.
The NL East-leading Nationals improved to 6-2, their best start to a season since moving from Montreal to Washington in 2005.
After Marshall (0-1) got the first batter of the 13th on a groundout, Danny Espinosa reached with a broken-bat infield single. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche then walked. That brought up Werth, who delivered on a 1-2 pitch to end the game after 4 hours, 4 minutes.
Craig Stammen (2-0), Washington's sixth pitcher, earned the win by striking out three in the top of the 13th.
Stammen also earned the win in extra innings Thursday, when he struck out the side in the 10th with only 10 pitches as Washington beat Cincinnati 3-2 on a game-ending wild pitch.
The Reds have lost four of five, scoring a total of nine runs in that span.
Cincinnati finished with only five hits Friday, and the top two batters in the lineup — Drew Stubbs and Wilson Valdez — were a combined 0 for 12 with four strikeouts. Their 4-5 hitters, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce (who left in the 11th), were 0 for 10 with a walk.
By the 13th, each team was down to only one position player, the backup catcher: Jesus Flores for Washington, and Devin Mesoraco for Cincinnati.
The proceedings dragged on so long, the Nationals decided to hold a second Presidents' Race — the mascot contest usually held in the middle of the fourth inning — in the 13th.
The Reds led 1-0 heading into the eighth, but Xavier Nady tied it with the fifth pinch-hit homer of his career, a solo shot off reliever Bill Bray.
Until then, Reds starter Bronson Arroyo was having an excellent night, allowing three hits over 7 1-3 scoreless innings, plus helping himself with a sacrifice fly that drove in a run to put the visitors ahead in the fifth.
But when the Nationals sent pinch-hitter Chad Tracy to bat with nobody on and one out in the eighth, Reds manager Dusty Baker lifted Arroyo after 94 pitches and switched to the left-handed Bray. Nationals manager Davey Johnson countered with Nady, who drove a 1-0 pitch just beyond the reach of leaping left fielder Ryan Ludwick.
As the ball bounced around the visitors' bullpen, Ludwick put his hands on his hips, shook his head and chomped on his gum.
That meant Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann avoided a second consecutive hard-luck loss to start the season. The righty nearly matched Arroyo, giving up one run and three hits in seven innings, and Zimmermann's ERA is at 1.29.
But the Nationals have developed a propensity for problems at the plate with Zimmermann on the mound: They have scored a grand total of 25 runs in his past nine starts, dating to July, fewer than three per game.
Zimmermann got help from two highlight-worthy plays in the field in the fourth. First, shortstop Ian Desmond ranged far to his right to snare Scott Rolen's grounder and, from deep in the hole, snapped off a laser of a throw that first baseman LaRoche picked nicely. Then, third baseman Zimmerman raced to his left to make a sliding stab of Ludwick's grounder and flicked a submarine throw to LaRoche.
Zimermann waited on the mound to give Zimmerman an appreciative slap on the glove as they headed to the dugout.
Not to be left out, second baseman Espinosa got in on the act, too, running to grab a looper off Rolen's bat and turning to flip the ball to LaRoche to double off Joey Votto to end the sixth.
The Reds, though, already had managed to cross the plate an inning earlier. Former Nationals player Willie Harris, getting a rare start for Cincinnati, led off with a double, took third on a groundout, and scored on Arroyo's sac fly.
That ended a 23-inning scoreless streak for Washington's starting pitchers. The team had a 24-inning shutout stretch in September 2005, its first season after moving from Montreal.
With two outs in the seventh, that sterling Nationals defense of earlier disappeared quickly. LaRoche failed to cleanly handle Harris' grounder for an error. The next batter reached when Desmond dropped a high chopper for another error. But that brought up Arroyo, who grounded out.
NOTES: Reds 2B Brandon Phillips, who missed the previous three games with a left hamstring injury, pinch hit in the 13th. ... Nationals CF Rick Ankiel is set to come off the 15-day DL for Saturday's game against Cincinnati and move into the lineup as an everyday player. He's been on a minor league rehabilitation assignment after being slowed by a left quadriceps injury in spring training that limited him to 15 at-bats in exhibition games. He arrived in Washington on Friday and worked out with teammates in the afternoon. ... Reds SS Zack Cozart was out of the starting lineup; he popped out trying to bunt as a pinch-hitter in the 12th, then stayed in to play the field. ... RHP Edwin Jackson starts for Washington on Saturday against RHP Homer Bailey of Cincinnati. ... Former Redskins LB LaVar Arrington threw out the ceremonial first pitch, drawing a smattering of boos when he bounced it several feet short of home plate.