The Nationals had a few scoring chances in their series opener against the Mets, but were never able to sustain a rally, managing just four hits in the first eight innings.
New York led 2-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth and suddenly, the Nationals bats came alive against Mets reliever Bobby Parnell.
Ryan Zimmerman started the rally with a leadoff double. After a wild pitch, Adam LaRoche added a single that scored Zimmerman for the tying run.
Ian Desmond laced a double to put men on second and third. With a base open, Mets manager Terry Collins elected to intentionally walk Roger Bernadina.
Contact hitter Steve Lombardozzi stepped in and faced seven pitches above the strike zone in his first eight pitches from Parnell. He managed to hang in with a 2-2 count.
Manager Davey Johnson said Lombardozzi stayed in the at-bat by doing something a bit out of character.
“He usually swings only at strikes,” Johnson said. “I think he was swinging at anything that was thrown up there that wasn’t over his head. That was a great at-bat. Big win, we needed it.”
Said Lombardozzi: “It was the situation you want to be in. I love being up with guys in scoring position. That was my first walk-off, personally, so it was pretty neat. Those are situations you dream of.”
Lombardozzi lofted a fly ball to left field that scored LaRoche for the winning run and the Nationals dropped the Mets 3-2.
“You are not trying to do too much in that situation,” Lombardozzi said. “You try to get big or you are going to have a hard time. He throws pretty firm. He was up in the zone so I was just trying to get something I could handle and get the run in.
“I was just trying to tell myself he has got to come to me, he is the one in trouble.”
It also marked the first ninth-inning comeback win for the Nationals this season, something that seemed commonplace in last year’s division title run.
“Any game is big,” Lombardozzi said. “But I think a big win to come from behind is big for this ballclub. We haven’t really done that much all year.”
And Lombardozzi makes the big offensive play on a day when the man he replaces, second baseman Danny Espinosa, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right wrist. But the team also got Jayson Werth back, and Anthony Rendon and Ian Krol were added.
“It is good to have Jayson back, he brings some energy to the club,” Lombardozzi said. “It was a good team win.”
Maybe this will be the spark the Nationals need to get some kind of run going. Tuesday’s dramatics are a good place to start.