“That’s why you come to the ballpark,” Moore said. “The first eight innings were kind of boring and the last three were unbelievable.”
Beato was inserted into the game to face Moore with two outs after Harper was forced out at home on a fielder’s choice. And just like the other Mets relievers before him, Beato pumped only offspeed pitches at Moore. But on his fourth one, he threw a curveball that bounced hard into the dirt to the right of the plate and high over the head of catcher Josh Thole. At third base, Zimmerman started to run home, then stopped because he couldn’t tell from his vantage point exactly where the ball was, then darted to the plate to score the winning run.
Third base coach Bo Porter raced home right behind him to celebrate. Zimmerman ran into the crowd of teammates streaming from the dugout steps. One tried dumping water on him but he escaped, almost like Tuesday’s win against the Mets.
Entering the game, the Nationals had the league’s best record against National League opponents. The Nationals also had the best winning percentage (.621) in the major leagues against division opponents. And this swing of games to start the second half of the season — 21 of 25 against the NL East — would be one of their most decisive stretches of the season. They could distance themselves from the rest of the division or see their lead shrink quickly.
Over the weekend, the division lead shrank against the Miami Marlins, with the surging Atlanta Braves on their tails. And even though they almost lost the game twice and needed to tie the score twice, they narrowly escaped a division loss and maintained a 31
2-game lead over the Braves.
“That’s what first-place teams do,” Detwiler said. “They find a way to win every game possible. This is a big month for us.”
Detwiler cruised through the Mets’ lineup, allowing only five hits, inducing groundballs and relying on his defense, and turning in his most complete and longest performance of the season. But Clippard, so consistently dominant for the Nationals, faltered with a two-run lead in the ninth.
He allowed a leadoff single to Thole, who was pinch-hitting, in the ninth. David Wright then singled and instantly, within the span of eight pitches, Clippard was in a jam with no outs. Pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin then crushed a change-up that stayed across the middle of the plate into center field. The ball bounced off the top of the green wall and back into the play. Harper played the ball off the bounce and tossed it in. But home plate umpire Angel Hernandez signaled that it was a home run.