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Red-hot Nationals win 10th straight

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[August 22, 2014]  WASHINGTON -- It has been just over 66 years since Babe Ruth died on Aug. 16, 1948, but a little bit of the Bambino will be on display in the near future courtesy of Matt Williams, the rookie manager for the Washington Nationals.

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 that Thursday.

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."

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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 reserved.]

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