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Gritty Nats take two since ‘fire sale’ trades

August 23, 2018

Soon after Ryan Zimmerman was interviewed on the field, the Nationals Park sound system blasted a 1975 song with the lyrics I believe in miracles late Wednesday night.

It may take a miracle for the Nationals to make the playoffs, but for one night their fans were dreaming big.

First baseman Zimmerman hit a two-run, two-out homer in the last of the ninth off Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez as the Nationals came back for an 8-7 victory against their National League East rivals before a crowd of 31,855.

It was the 11th career walk-off homer for Zimmerman and his first since May 15, 2016, against the Yankees.

The former University of Virginia standout is now tied with Tony Perez for second-most walk-off homers in National League history.

I wasnt trying to do too much. You cant try to do too much (in that spot). They are supposed to get me out, Zimmerman said of hard-throwing closers such as Dominquez. I think the pressure is on them.

The homer came after a two-out double by Juan Soto, then Zimmerman hit a 2-1 pitch just over the wall in right field.

After a crew chief review by the umpires, the original call of double was overturned and Zimmerman finished his tour of the bases.

Zimmerman was on the disabled list earlier this year but now has 12 homers and is hitting .260.

That was fun. Im just really happy he is healthy now, Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Zimmerman.

It was the second walk-off homer this season by the Nationals, with the other coming from Mark Reynolds another Virginia product on July 7 against the Marlins.

Third-place Washington (64-63) remained 7.5 games back of first-place Atlanta and is now 4.5 games behind the second-place Phillies.

What a finish, said Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals starting pitcher. Great win for us and excited for Zim.

The win helped mask a rough outing by Strasburg, who gave up five runs and seven hits, including two homers, in four innings. The winning pitcher was Matt Grace (1-1), who got the last out in the top of the ninth.

Bryce Harper had three hits and scored twice and Trea Turner, Soto, Wilmer Difo and Zimmerman each had two hits.

Former George Mason University standout Justin Bour of the Phillies had one of the homers off Strasburg his seventh at Nationals Park.

Strasburg came off the disabled list earlier Wednesday to make the start against the Phillies. It was his first start since July 20 and only his second outing since June 8.

I thought he was tired. He threw the ball well. That was his first game back, Martinez said of Strasburg.

In that July 20, at home against the Braves, Strasburg exchanged heated words with Max Scherzer when he came out of the game after he gave up six runs in 4 2/3 innings.

He entered Wednesday with an ERA of 3.90 in 14 starts this season.

The second win in a row over the Phillies came a day after the Nationals supposedly punted on the season, trading a pair of left-handed hitters to National League contenders: Daniel Murphy to the Cubs and Matt Adams to the Cardinals.

Ironically, Zimmerman wore a red, white and blue T-shirt with an image of Murphy on it in the clubhouse after the game.

What did the Nationals want out of Strasburg against the Phillies?

Just be himself; give us a chance to win the ballgame, general manager Mike Rizzo told 106.7 The Fan before Wednesdays game. We are still in there battling. We are realistic; we know what the calendar says. We are going to play hard baseball.

The series finale is Thursday afternoon with a stellar pitching matchup as Max Scherzer (16-5, 2.11) goes for the Nationals against Aaron Nola (14-3, 2.24) of the Phillies.

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