The Nationals (33-32) moved back above .500 for the first time since May 29 and won their first road series since they took a three-game series at Pittsburgh on May 5. The Nationals had been treading water for 10 weeks, but after two straight wins they are only 51
2 games behind the idle Atlanta Braves in the National League East. A week ago, the Nationals sat a season-high eight games back. Now, they have won four of five for the first time in a month.
In addition to the balks, the Nationals were aided by the fact the Rockies lost three key players to injury — Troy Tulowitzki (broken rib), Carlos Gonzalez (foot) and Dexter Fowler (hand) — over the course of the game.
“I hate to say it, but the breaks went our way,” reliever Craig Stammen said. “Two balks. Their best players all got hurt. That’s kind of how last year went. It seemed like everything went our way, so [Thursday] was like the first day all season I felt like things went our way.”
Other than Zimmerman’s two-run homer in the third inning, the Nationals’ offense looked meager early against left-handed starter Jeff Francis, who entered with a 6.30 ERA. The Rockies took a 3-2 lead in the fourth, aided by right fielder Jayson Werth’s error on a double by Michael Cuddyer. Detwiler bounced back for a 1-2-3 fifth, his final inning.
“There’s always a little hesitation there, but I was just trying to go out there and attack as much as I could,” Detwiler said. “We got through the first one. Hopefully we can relax and get back to the form I was in before.”
The Nationals tied the game in curious fashion in the seventh. And, unsurprisingly, Desmond was at the heart of the action. He singled to start the inning off right-hander Wilton Lopez and stole second base. There, with two outs, the craziness started with Steve Lombardozzi batting.
Desmond took a lead off second, and then Lopez was called for a balk by home plate umpire James Hoye and second base umpire Bob Davidson. Lopez looked puzzled, and Desmond jogged to third. With a 2-1 count, Lopez was called for a second balk by third base umpire Jim Reynolds, and Desmond jogged home to tie the game at 3. The crowd at Coors Field erupted in a chorus of boos.