Wednesday, June 25, 2014
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Zimmerman homer saves day as Nats edge Brewers

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[June 25, 2014]  MILWAUKEE -- His bullpen nearing a breaking point after 15 innings of work, Nationals manager Matt Williams had no other option but to tell first baseman Adam LaRoche to start warming up.

Fortunately for the Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman saved the day, capping off a 3-for-7 effort with a two-run home run off right-hander Mike Fiers in the 16th inning as Washington escaped with a 4-2 victory at Miller Park.

"That was a big homer," Williams said. "If we didn't go ahead there, it was going to be (LaRoche)."

Zimmerman's blast -- just his third of the season -- might not have been possible without a herculean effort by the Washington bullpen, which threw 10 shutout innings and held Milwaukee to just four hits.

Right-hander Ross Detwiler threw 46 pitches -- all of them fastballs -- and allowed two hits and an intentional walk in four innings.

"He was above and beyond tonight," Williams said. "Going in, we had some guys that weren't feeling it and we didn't want go to them but it turned out we had to. 'Det' was fantastic."

It was the longest outing of the season for Detwiler, who hadn't thrown more than 2 1/3 since going six innings in a September 2013 start against the Brewers.

"Our bullpen has been running a little short so it was good to go out there as long as I can," Detwiler said. "I feel fine right now but the real test is tomorrow though."

Right-hander Tyler Clippard (5-2) pitched the 15th, and closer Rafael Soriano worked a perfect 16th inning for his 18th save of the season.

In the top of the 16th, LaRoche hit a one-out single off Fiers (0-1), the sixth Brewers reliever of the night. Zimmerman, Washington's left fielder, followed with a two-run shot to left.

"I just hit the ball hard," Zimmerman said. "My swing has been feeling better the last two days -- it's been a rough few weeks but you just have to keep grinding it out. I got myself into a good count and put a good swing on a pitch."

The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on right fielder Jayson Werth's RBI groundout, but that would be Washington's only run against Yovani Gallardo. The Brewers right-hander went six innings and scattered four hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

Washington right-hander Jordan Zimmermann retired his first 10 batters, but he put his team in a hole in the fourth when he allowed a two-run single to right fielder Ryan Braun.

Milwaukee's lead held until the eighth, when left-hander Will Smith gave up a home run to third baseman Anthony Rendon, who finished with three hits.

The bullpens took over from there.

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Milwaukee lefties Zach Duke and Tom Gorzelanny combined for three scoreless innings of work before Fiers, who worked a scoreless inning the night before, came on.

"I just tried to give as many innings as I could, put as many zeroes up in on the board as well," said Fiers (0-1), who threw 50 pitches. "They got me in the fourth inning I pitched and that was it."

Fiers retired the Nationals in order in the 13th inning.

After back-to-back one-out singles by Zimmerman and shortstop Ian Desmond, he worked out of trouble in the 14th, then set Washington down in order in the 15th.

"Fiers threw the ball well. He did," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I know he gave up the home run but he threw the ball well. He mixed up his speeds and had them out front, then he'd sneak a fastball by them. He threw the ball well.

The Brewers put the winning run in scoring position in both the 13th and 15th innings. Each time, the Nationals intentionally walked catcher Jonathan Lucroy, then induced center fielder Carlos Gomez make an inning-ending out on the first pitch.

"The two home runs, obviously, were big hits for those guys but we had plenty of chances," said Roenicke, whose team was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. "We had bad at-bats today. We've been swinging the bat so well. Yesterday, we ran across a great pitcher and today, same thing, Zimmerman is a great pitcher. But we had some chances today and we just had some bad at-bats."

NOTES: Nationals OF Bryce Harper homered and played five innings in center field Tuesday as he continued a rehab assignment with Class A Potomac. ... The series concludes Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park with RHP Marco Estrada (6-4, 5.22 ERA) facing off against Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-5, 3.24). Estrada struggled in his past seven starts, posting a 7.59 ERA despite a 3-3 record. He allowed 14 home runs during that stretch.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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