Five solo homers. A blown 5-0 lead. Late-inning heroics. Impressive relief.
If you were looking for some excitement Saturday night, Progressive Field in Cleveland might’ve been the place to be. The Nationals were able to overcome a rare poor start from Jordan Zimmermann and a big Indians comeback to win 7-6 for their third victory in four games.
The Nats looked like they’d cruise to a win after jumping out to a 5-0 lead and chasing starter Scott Kazmir in the third behind homers from Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond.
But the Indians roared back, chasing Zimmermann from the game after he allowed six earned runs in five innings for one of his worst performances of the season. A three-run fifth did the majority of the damage, putting Cleveland ahead 6-5.
The Nats bullpen then came through to give the offense some time to come back. Craig Stammen provided a scoreless sixth, Ian Krol retired all five batters he faced and Drew Storen retired his only batter in the eighth.
Chad Tracy didn’t let that work go to waste, hitting a game-tying pinch-hit homer in the eighth before Anthony Rendon hit his first big league homer with two outs in the ninth to return the lead to the Nats for the first time since the fifth.
The five homers matched a season high for the Nats and it’s a good bet Rendon won’t forget his first blast, as it turned out to be a winner.
Rendon has been on quite a run since being brought back to the majors, recording hits in all eight games this month with three more tonight. He is now batting .405 (13-for-32) with a homer, five doubles, five runs and five RBIs during his latest stint with the Nats.
Closer Rafael Soriano finished off the Indians, converting his sixth straight save and 18th of the season with a scoreless ninth.
And as a result, the Nats moved back above .500 at 34-33 heading into Sunday’s rubber match.