The Nationals were down 6-2 at the start of the seventh, rolling through their relievers that normally pitch when a game is out of reach. Now, they've got Tyler Clippard warming in the bullpen.
What changed? The team put together its best of the year, scoring six runs in the seventh, four of them with two outs, to take an 8-6 lead. And Yunesky Maya is off the hook for his ugly start.
They tied the game on a rally that started when Jayson Werth walked, Ian Desmond beat out an infield single and Ryan Zimmerman - who'd struck out twice and hit into a double play in his first game back - shot a Miguel Batista cutter down the line for a double that scored Werth and moved Desmond to third. It's the first example of what a difference Zimmerman makes; if he makes an out there, the inning ends on Michael Morse's groundout without a run. Instead, Morse drove in another run and the Nationals scored four after that, with Laynce Nix putting them ahead after fouling off six pitches in an 11-pitch at-bat that lead to a go-ahead walk and Werth serving an 0-2 fastball to right for the eighth run.
The crowd of 26,739 was standing through most of the rally, and when Nix got the go-ahead walk, it was as loud as I've heard it in quite a while.
Sometimes, all it takes is that one hitter to extend a lineup. And as much as we've tried to put Zimmerman's return in perspective, it's probably not a coincidence the Nationals put a rally like this together in his first night back.