More on the bullpen, Difo's debut in center and Storen's return

There were no shortage of noteworthy developments in last night's 6-5 10-inning win. We've already addressed a few of them - the game-winning rally, Brian Goodwin's two-homer night, Stephen Strasburg's struggles in the humidity - but let's run through some more items of interest before turning the page to today's game ...

* The Nationals bullpen was good. Really good. Like, five scoreless innings good.

When Strasburg was pulled after five innings and 95 pitches, the notion that the Nats' beleaguered relief corps could somehow keep the Reds' run total at five didn't sound all the plausible. But credit to a quartet of pitchers who made it happen.

Matt Grace got things going with a 1-2-3 sixth. Blake Treinen then pitched two scoreless frames, inducing a double play in the seventh and firing off a 101-mph fastball in the eighth. Enny Romero retired the heart of the Cincinnati lineup in order in the ninth. And Matt Albers pitched around a two-out walk in the 10th to set the stage for the winning rally.

With that, the Nationals bullpen reduced its season ERA from 5.04 to 4.91, for the moment leaving the Mets with the National League's highest relief ERA.

"We talk a lot of stuff on them, but they did a great job tonight," manager Dusty Baker said. "An outstanding job."

difo-throw-spring-training-white-sidebar.jpg* Wilmer Difo's first career appearance in center field didn't go as well as the Nationals would have liked.

The career infielder, who saw time in the outfield this spring and played three games in center field for Triple-A Syracuse in the last week, was thrown into the fire last night when the Nats needed somebody to fill in for the mysteriously injured Michael A. Taylor.

In Baker's opinion, Difo was the best option for this game, but it nearly cost him. Difo failed to make plays on two sinking liners in the game's first three innings, though he did handle three other defensive chances successfully and showed off his arm strength, as well.

By the seventh inning, Baker decided to pull the plug and shift Goodwin to center field, with Ryan Raburn taking over in left field.

"I got him out of there when I thought the time was right," Baker said. "I just explained to Difo that that ball that fell in, that's the ball that you take a chance on coming in and catching because it's two outs. And if you let it fall, the runner's running; he's not going to hold up right there.

"He's learning, too. A lot of these guys are. We're still teaching as we play. A lot of times, like I said before, you don't know what they don't know. We don't give a baseball aptitude test here. You don't know what they don't know until something happens in the game, and then you have to explain it to him. But that's our job as coaches and managers."

* It was brief, lasting only one batter, but Drew Storen made his return to Nationals Park two years after his last appearance here, this time wearing an opponent's uniform.

Storen, the longtime closer and setup man who was at the center of so many significant moments in Nats history, admitted earlier in the afternoon he was curious what kind of reaction he'd get from D.C. fans. He also knew it might be difficult to distinguish between those cheering "Drewww" and those booing.

The end result? A mixture. Some fans stood and applauded. Some chanted "Drewww." And some booed.

Storen, meanwhile, retired Anthony Rendon on a fly ball to right to get out of the seventh inning with the game tied 5-5.

Game 75 lineups: Nats vs. Reds
With two-out rally, Nationals find a way to walk o...

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