Suzuki's clutch hit another example of his importance to Nationals' success

The amazing emergence of catcher Kurt Suzuki has been another example of how general manager Mike Rizzo finds a way to make the right choice in a time of need for the Nationals.

With a major injury to starter Wilson Ramos, Rizzo was looking for a veteran backstop who could handle a young pitching staff.

He focused on Suzuki, who had hit well in his career and had done a good job over the years of throwing runners out, something the Nationals had struggled with in 2011.

Suzuki was brought in for his outstanding defense, expert calls of games, the way he handles pitchers, his familiarity with Gio Gonzalez and his ability to keep baserunners honest.

In 2012, Suzuki was not hitting as well as he would have liked when he arrived in D.C., averaging just .218. He had just one home run this season in Oakland.

But with the Nationals, Suzuki has hit five home runs. He has also raised his batting average 18 points after going 2-for-5 with two RBIs in the win over St. Louis on Saturday night.

Oh, that's right.

It was Suzuki's two-run double that won the game for the Nationals, 6-4 in 10 innings. This clutch hit came after the Cardinals had come all the way back from a 4-0, first-inning deficit with a momentum-turning tying run in the bottom of the ninth.

The hit also came after the Cardinals intentionally walked Danny Espinosa so they could face Suzuki, who battled the very feisty St. Louis reliever Fernando Salas to a 2-2 count before unleashing his furious double in the gap to plate Adam LaRoche and Espinosa.

The Cardinals might have underestimated the hitting of Suzuki. But the Nationals certainly have not.

Suzuki has hit 8-for-19 (.421) on this, the final regular season road trip of the year. He has hit .312 with a slugging percentage of .506 in September for the Nationals.

Magic number now at one.

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