Williams promised his players earlier this year that he would do
his Ruth imitation if they won 10 games in a row. And they did just
Center fielder Denard Span scored on a throwing error by Arizona
third baseman Jordan Pacheco with one out in the ninth inning as the
Nationals beat the Diamondbacks 1-0.
"I can't wait to see Matt do that" imitation, said starting pitcher
Gio Gonzalez, who limited the Diamondbacks to four hits in seven
scoreless innings but was not involved in the decision. "I have
never been part of something like this. This is pretty incredible."
The Nationals swept the four-game series, with three of the wins
coming via the walk-off route.
"We are just riding it as long as it goes," said third baseman
Anthony Rendon, who hit the grounder that Pacheco threw past first
base to allow Span to score from second in the ninth as 32,311 fans
saw another late-inning victory.
Williams, as a player, did an imitation of Ruth when he played for
the San Francisco Giants in the 1990s. The Giants begin a series in
Washington on Friday and Williams is not sure when he will find
time, or the appropriate setting, to do the imitation.
"Timing is important. Timing is ultimately important," Williams said
with a smile.
The former third baseman would not commit to a time or place.
"I don't know when that will be. A promise is a promise. It will
happen somewhere, somehow," said Williams, who said he wants no more
than one camera present when it takes place.
The Nationals tied a franchise record for consecutive wins set in
2005. Six of the past seven victories are by one run and Washington
has six walk-off victories in the past two weeks.
The National League East-leading Nationals (73-53) climbed a
season-high 20 games above .500 and the Diamondbacks (53-75) are a
season-worst 22 games below .500. Arizona has lost six in a row.
"For a game to end like that, you really don't want that to happen,
especially when your pitching staff has done so well all game. To
end it like that, that's definitely my fault. That's a horrible way
to lose," Pacheco said.
"I guess some losses are a little more difficult," said Arizona
first baseman Mark Trumbo, who could not come up with the throw in
the ninth from Pacheco. "I think we battled as well as we could.
Just didn't have too much offense to show for it. But our pitching
staff did a great job."
[to top of second column]
The winning pitcher was Rafael Soriano (4-1), who threw a
scoreless ninth inning. Oliver Perez (2-3) took the loss.
Arizona starter Wade Miley, in his 100th career appearance, allowed
no runs and eight hits with six walks in 6 2/3 innings.
"It was a grind. It was a battle," Miley said. "I mean, those guys
did a great job. They were laying off some pretty good pitches. I
feel like it was bases loaded, one out every inning."
Gonzalez reached 100 pitches by the fifth inning in his previous two
starts but threw 97 Thursday. The left-hander had not had a
scoreless outing since he went eight innings against the Chicago
Cubs at home on July 5.
"This outing means a lot to me; steps in the right direction," said
Gonzalez, who averaged less than five innings per start in his last
six outings. "All in all, it was a great Nats win."
Span, catcher Wilson Ramos and left fielder Bryce Harper each had
two hits for Washington.
NOTES: The Nationals entered Thursday's game with four walk-off wins
in their last five games. In the last 20 years, they are just the
third team with as many wins of this type during a five-game span,
according to Elias Sports Bureau. The Chicago Cubs (2009) and Kansas
City Royals (2000) also pulled it off. "It is fun to watch. It is
heart racing," said Washington pitcher Tanner Roark, who threw seven
scoreless innings Wednesday. ... Washington will begin a series at
home Friday against the San Francisco Giants and RHP Doug Fister
(12-3, 2.20) will face Giants' RHP Tim Hudson (8-9, 3.03). ...
Arizona RHP Josh Collmenter (8-7, 4.31) will oppose San Diego RHP
Odrisamer Despaigne (3-4, 3.28) in the first game of the series
Friday in Phoenix. ... Going into Thursday's game Washi
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.