Nationals starter Edwin Jackson's complete game was a gem unto itself: nine frames, two hits, one run, one walk and nine strikeouts. In only 92 pitches, Jackson handed the Nationals their first complete game of the season and a five-game win streak.
He also gave a taxed bullpen a full day off. Following 23 innings of pitching, nine of those frames from the bullpen in the past two days, Saturday was a game for the relievers to be spectators, Jackson.
"Because of the extra innings, this was nice," said first baseman Adam LaRoche. "It never comes at a bad time, but this was perfect timing to give those guys a rest."
Thank you, Edwin. Yours truly, the bullpen.
"He saved (the bullpen) a bunch," said reliever Ryan Mattheus. "I think we only had two guys down there that hadn't thrown back-to-back days or didn't throw (Friday) night. It is big for us. We will have everybody fresh tomorrow. He saved us big time. Everybody got the day off. I think he knew that going out there."
There was the critical moment in the top of the eighth when he walked Reds left fielder Chris Heisey on four pitches.
Catcher Jesus Flores sensed Jackson might be laboring.
"I felt like he was getting tired," Flores said. "But at the same time, I felt like he could do it, too. He felt really confident. The crowd gave him the emotion to feel electric and finish it up."
A talk with pitching coach Steve McCatty was all the motivation Jackson needed to go all the way. McCatty said he asked Jackson if he wanted it and Jackson said, "I want it." So McCatty let him finish out the game.
Jackson proceeded to strike out the next three hitters to end the eighth inning. Then he added a 1-2-3 ninth inning to seal the win.
"He had a real good breaking ball today," McCatty said. "You kind of knew after last night's game, using a lot of guys and stuff, that he was going to maybe bear down a little more. He threw the ball great."