Held to no runs over the first seven frames and down 3-0, the Nationals were faced with the tough task of trying to mount a comeback against the Pirates.
In the eighth inning, the Nats pushed across three runs thanks to Kevin Frandsen’s RBI single and Adam LaRoche’s two-run homer.
“The most important thing tonight, the team never threw their head down,” Ramos said to reporters in D.C. “We fight all game. It was a big game for LaRoche, too, and excited for what I did tonight...
“We never threw out head down, that’s what I have to do. You have to play nine every day, every game.”
While starter Gio Gonzalez struggled in his outing, allowing three runs over five innings, the Nats bullpen kept its team in the game and helped set up the walk-off opportunity.
“I felt like I went through five innings. That’s the best I can say for you. I thought I was attacking the strike zone, I made pitches I wanted to make,” Gonzalez said. “Just tough breaks, you know. I got ground balls I wanted, they just found the hole. I got broken bats, and they found hits, so that’s just baseball. That’s how it’s going for me this year.
“You gotta keep grinding, keep grinding. I mean, at the end of the day, a W’s a W. You look at all the hard work they did, all the hard work we did, we got a nice W on top of it. ... Just one of those games, you’ve just gotta sit back and just finally say, ‘Catch a break. We got a no-decision and a win.’ “
After Gonzalez exited the game, throwing 102 pitches in five innings, Craig Stammen came in and pitched three scoreless innings of one-hit ball. Matt Thornton then tossed a scoreless inning to earn his first win as a National.
“I think that’s where I am right now in the rotation, just trying to find my spot, trying to find my momentum going my way. It’s just I’ve been fortunate enough to be saved by our bullpen,” Gonzalez said. “I can’t take away any credit from Craig Stammen. ... Great job right behind me, keep us in the game, same thing with Matt Thornton. They did a great job, and you look at our bullpen, they’ve just been solid.”
Harper also credited the bullpen after the victory, in addition to praising walk-off hero Ramos.
“I think, of course, I wanted to do it, but seeing Willy come through for us is unbelievable,” Harper said. “Seeing Rochey (LaRoche) hit that two-run shot against a tough lefty again, you know was unbelievable, and also Stammer coming through and just carving. Stammen’s been great the past couple outings, and he’s fun to watch.”
Here’s more chatter from the Nats clubhouse after the 4-3 win.
Gonzalez on tough breaks: “There’s some guys that are going to battle you for 10 pitches, 12 pitches, and that’s just how my luck’s been going. They’re fouling off 94, they’re letter-high, it’s just one of those things. You’ve gotta bounce back and try to hit the bottom of the strike zone. When you make that adjustment, they put it into play.”
Gonzalez on his recent struggles: “You look at all the positives that’s going on. It’s just, it’s a win. You can only do a certain amount and just say, ‘Hey, we’re right back where we want to be.’ Now we go in to our next game tomorrow with our horse on the mound and a chance to look at a sweep, so here we go.”
Ramos on the walk-off celebration: “That kind of moment ... You can get hit hard, but you don’t care in that moment. It’s an amazing day for me and especially when Desi (Ian Desmond) threw me the cooler with Gatorade, that was amazing.”
Harper on crowd at Nats Park: “This crowd was great all night long, they stayed with us all night”