Once again, a Nationals starter was cruising along, and once again, the offense had provided a little support.
This time, the Nationals got to the ninth inning, hanging on to a 1-0 lead behind a solo homer from Danny Espinosa and masterful pitching from John Lannan.
With their closer on the hill, it looked like the Nationals would pull this one out and end their week-long skid.
Then, Jason Bartlett connected on his first home run in 247 at-bats, this one on the first pitch off of Drew Storen, and the game was tied, 1-1.
How quickly the momentum can swing.
Storen got through the rest of the inning, giving the Nationals a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth.
How quickly the momentum can swing. Again.
Michael Morse crushed the first offering from San Diego reliever Mike Adams over the left-center field wall and the Nationals walked off with a thrilling, and much needed, 2-1 victory over the Padres before 21,024 at Nationals Park.
Morse has now hit a home run in four consecutive games. Has anything changed in his approach?
“I was doing what I always do,” Morse said. “I haven’t changed a thing. I am looking for a good pitch to hit over the heart of the plate. I got a good pitch and I didn’t miss it.”
Even though Lannan didn’t get credit for the win, it sure felt like one as he talked about his consistency in the longest start of the season. Lannan went seven and 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on just two hits, with two walks and five strikeouts.
“That was the biggest thing I have been struggling with is consistency,” Lannan said. “My first-pitch strikes were there. I need my sinker to do well and I got ground balls. I need to stay right there. I have just got to run with it.”
With the Nationals desperate for some power in their lineup, Morse, a spring training sensation, is starting to deliver in almost every game. Morse says he has worked on his mental approach and that has helped him at the plate. He has four homers and 9 RBI since May 23.
“It is a mentality,” Morse said. “I try to keep it as simple as possible. It took me along time to understand that. (It took) a lot of work with (hitting coach) Rick Eckstein. He has put up with me for along time and he has got me believing in myself.”
Manager Jim Riggleman said maybe this win would get the Nats thinking in a new direction after a brutal week on the road.
“Certainly the 1-7 stings,” Riggleman said. “1-3 stings. You are just trying to win that particular game and get something going. We hung in there and battled. John Lannan was outstanding. It was just a great ball game.”