Zimmerman Gives Nats 3-2 Win Over Cards

The Associated Press
Saturday, August 4, 2007; 12:22 AM

WASHINGTON -- Ryan Zimmerman's ninth-inning single gave the Washington Nationals their fourth straight win, 3-2 over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.

Pinch-hitter Tony Batista, Washington's last available position player, led off the inning with a single off Ryan Franklin (4-1). Felipe Lopez hit into a force play before Ronnie Belliard singled. Zimmerman then lined a 1-1 pitch to left field, scoring Lopez from second.

Chad Cordero (2-2), the fourth Nationals pitcher of the game, threw a scoreless ninth to earn the win. It is Washington's first four-game winning streak since May 22-25.

The Nationals took a 2-1 lead in the seventh, when Brian Schneider led off with a single off Kip Wells. Ryan Langerhans came on to pinch run, and Nook Logan followed with a bunt single and D'Angelo Jimenez walked to load the bases. Wells gave way to Russ Springer, who retired Lopez before Belliard lofted a sacrifice fly to right.

St. Louis tied the game in the eighth on consecutive singles by Juan Encarnacion, Adam Kennedy and Yadier Molina off Jon Rauch.

Wells, who exited after throwing 116 pitches, leads the National League with 13 losses, and has won just once in his last nine starts. But he pitched well enough to win this one, allowing two runs and six hits in six-plus innings.

Wells singled in his first two at-bats, raising his average to .316. In his first trip to the plate, with two on and two outs in the second, he stretched out an eight-pitch at-bat before lining Tim Redding's 3-2 pitch to right, driving in the game's first run.

The Cardinals' bullpen threw a total of 9 2-3 innings in losses Wednesday and Thursday, so manager Tony La Russa said beforehand that three of his relievers wouldn't be available Friday _ though he wouldn't specify which ones.

He also made it clear Wells would be on the mound for quite a while.

"We don't have an off day for 10 days. This is going to be a day where Wells can throw 115 to 120 pitches _ and he's going to throw them," La Russa said. "We don't have a lot of protection today."

The problem was that the right-hander was throwing a lot of pitches early, already up to 62 through three innings.

The good news? Wells got out of a bases-loaded situation in the first by striking out Ryan Church on a 79 mph curveball, and wound up taking a shutout into the fifth.

That's when Washington tied the game. Redding reached on a fielder's choice, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Lopez's double into the left-field corner on a full count.

Then in the sixth, Wells walked Austin Kearns with his 103rd pitch, putting runners on the corners with one out. After a visit from pitching coach Dave Duncan, Wells got Ryan Church to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Tiring on a muggy, 79-degree evening, Redding bounced his 102nd pitch in front of the plate in the seventh. He did get Wells to ground out there _ no mean feat on this night _ but then walked David Eckstein on four pitches and was removed.

Redding went 6 1-3 innings, allowing one run and seven hits. He walked two and tied a career high with eight strikeouts, including Albert Pujols twice.

Notes:@ A 10-year-old boy sitting in the fourth row behind the visiting dugout was hit in the head by a bat when it sailed out of Church's hands on a swing in the fourth inning. The boy was bleeding and carried out of the stands, but the Nationals said later he was OK. ... Logan's diving catch of a sinking liner robbed Eckstein of a hit leading off the game. ... Langerhans' eighth-inning single broke an 0-for-18 slump.

© 2007 The Associated Press