The Nationals have played 36 games this year, they've won 18 of them and there are few of their victories so far that have been as uplifting as the one they just pulled off against the Braves.
Trailing 3-1 into the ninth inning, the Nationals had just six hits in the first eight innings. From the ninth through the 11th, they had seven. And their comeback had a little of everything: aggressive baserunning, solid defense, a timely double from Ian Desmond and an insurance blast from their $126 million right fielder.
And six days after they left Philadelphia having been swept by the Phillies, the Nationals are a win away from a sweep of the Braves and a 5-4 record on one of their toughest road trips of the year.
Their ninth-inning rally against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel was a triumph of small ball - Laynce Nix punched a single to left, Jerry Hairston Jr. dropped a blooper in front of center fielder Nate McLouth and after a Matt Stairs walk, Alex Cora singled up the middle to score two runs. On Cora's single, pinch runner Jason Marquis - who won his 100th game yesterday - went from first to third, and Cora took an extra base as third-base coach Bo Porter watched from his knees, pumped his fists and clapped his hands. The Nationals have been trying to take the extra base all year, and in the ninth, they did it as well as they have all year.
Danny Espinosa made a leaping grab in the 10th to take away a base hit from Martin Prado, and on Cora's second hit of the night (in the 11th inning), the Nationals ran a hit-and-run to get Ivan Rodriguez to third. That set up Desmond's double inside the left field line, and after he made an aggressive move to steal third with one out, Jayson Werth hit his second homer in as many nights.
From the Nationals' aggressive baserunning to their sharp defense (they still only have one error in May) to their offense scoring seven runs for the second straight night, there was plenty for the team to feel good about. They're back to .500, and on Wednesday, they got the kind of win that could propel them for a while.