Kendrick's walk-off slam ends Nats' long day in dramatic style

They played three games in just slightly more than 24 hours, losing their biggest star to injury along the way and needing extra innings at the end of a really long day. After all that, at least the Nationals could say they walked away having won this rapid-fire series against the Giants.

With a 6-2, 11-inning victory this evening made possible by Howie Kendrick's walk-off grand slam, the Nationals salvaged a doubleheader split. Combined with their rain-delayed win Saturday night (and early Sunday morning), they managed to take two-of-three in a series that included 29 total innings of action and was played over the course of 24 hours and 28 minutes.

howie-kendrick-white-sidebar.jpgKendrick's blast into the left field bullpen off right-hander Albert Suárez was both the first grand slam and the first walk-off homer of his career, and left what remained of a crowd of 29,085 in ecstasy.

Daniel Murphy got the winning rally started with a leadoff single off Suárez. Ryan Zimmerman then blooped a single into shallow center field, allowing Murphy to chug all the way to third base. After the Giants intentionally walked Anthony Rendon, Kendrick stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and a number of ways at his disposal to drive in the winning run.

In the end, he chose the most dramatic way, launching Suárez's 2-2 pitch just over the fence in left-center to set off a wild celebration at the end of a long day.

The Giants threatened in the top of the ninth, putting the go-ahead run on third base with one out against Sean Doolittle. But the club's new closer managed to pitch his way out of the jam, retiring both Pablo Sandoval and Nick Hundley to give his teammates a chance to win it in in walk-off fashion.

But the Nationals couldn't win in regulation, unable to plate the decisive run against the much-disliked Hunter Strickland, who was welcomed to D.C. with several rounds of boos during both of his relief appearances today. Strickland served up a homer to Rendon in the opener - Rendon will now have to be on alert when he faces the right-hander in 2020 - but posted a zero in the bottom of the ninth tonight, sending this game into extra innings.

Matt Albers retired the side in the top of the 10th and then posted another zero in the top of the 11th, putting himself in position to earn the win.

After dropping the matinee 4-2 with A.J. Cole on the mound, the Nationals took comfort knowing they had Max Scherzer toeing the rubber in the nightcap. And early on, the ace looked very much like he was en route to yet another one of his runs at a history-making outing, retiring the first nine San Francisco batters he faced, four on strikeouts.

But Scherzer succumbed for just a few minutes in the top of the fourth, serving up three straight hits to allow the Giants' first run of the night to cross the plate. It would've been two runs if not for a perfectly placed throw from Michael A. Taylor, who in his first start in center field since coming off the disabled list this morning managed to hit both Matt Wieters' mitt and Joe Panik's helmet simultaneously on the fly for a dramatic out at the plate.

Scherzer got back to business after that, and his teammates provided him a 2-1 lead via a pair of solo homers. Murphy went the other way in the bottom of the third for his 20th of the season, five shy of the career-high he hit in 2016.

Zimmerman lined one into the left field bullpen in the bottom of the sixth for his 27th of the season, six shy of the career-high number he hit in 2009.

But moments after he was handed that lead, Scherzer gave up the tying run. Sandoval, a bust in Boston but now back in San Francisco, launched a pitch off the façade of the third deck in right field, silencing the makeup game crowd of 29,085, spoiling Scherzer's night and leaving this one in the hands of the respective bullpens.

The Nationals got a 1-2-3 top of the eighth from Brandon Kintzler, his seventh consecutive scoreless inning since his acquisition on July 31, though he wasn't originally slated to pitch that frame. Ryan Madson briefly warmed up before giving way to his fellow right-hander, then never warmed up again the rest of the night.

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