Nats pull out 11-inning win after Wieters suffers injury

PHOENIX - The day began with news that Adam Eaton had arthroscopic surgery to remove a flap of cartilage causing pain in his left ankle, a procedure that will keep the injured left fielder out for an indeterminate amount of time longer than the month he already has missed.

Then came the top of the second, and the latest malady for a Nationals club that has experienced too many of them through the first quarter of the season: Matt Wieters' left leg buckling as he rounded first base on a single, an injury he hopes is confined to his hamstring but could include his knee. Regardless of the severity, the injury that will force the team to get another catcher in town and in uniform before Friday's game.

Given all that, this could've been a devastating day for the Nationals, who still had to go up against Zack Greinke on a night the Diamondbacks ace was in peak form.

And yet, at the end of a long day, it was the Nationals who somehow emerged with a 2-1, 11-inning victory that gave everyone reason to smile in spite of all the negative emotions they experienced along the way.

"That was a good win," manager Davey Martinez said. "The funny thing is, I was as calm as I've ever been. I said: 'Hey, I'm going to sit here and watch the game and let it play out. ... That's a great win against an unbelievable opponent."

In the end, it was Matt Adams' latest clutch hit - an RBI single off left-hander Andrew Chafin to score Trea Turner from second base in the top of the 11th - and some standout work from four relievers - Sammy Solís, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler and Sean Doolittle combined for four scoreless innings - that allowed the Nationals to walk out of Chase Field with an uplifting victory.

"When those battles last that long, you'd rather come out on top," Turner said. "But winning, in general, is fun."

Nobody was having any fun watching Wieters go down in the top of the second, an injury that looked and felt significant to anyone who saw it.

Wieters-Walks-Off-Injured-Gray-Sidebar.jpgThe catcher's one-out single through the hole vacated at shortstop by the Diamondbacks' shifted infield seemed innocent enough, but he surprisingly took a wide turn around first, as though he was thinking about going for two. Just as he was about to hit the bag, his left leg buckled and he limped back to first base, immediately signaling for a trainer.

"The step before the bag, I just felt behind my knee ... kind of go a little bit," Wieters said. "And it didn't get any better as I took more strides."

"When you see him limping," Martinez said, "my heart dropped."

Wieters is hopeful the injury is confined to his hamstring, but he admits the back of his knee may have sustained some damage on the play as well. He'll undergo an MRI in the morning, then await the results.

"We're thinking it's probably hamstring, but it's kind of in the back of the connection point of where there's some other things running in there," he said. "So we just want to make sure. Hopefully it is hamstring, and hopefully it's not too bad. And we'll see what steps are next."

Wieters was walking around the clubhouse after the game and spoke to reporters while standing.

"It's not that bad walking around," he said. "There's certain positions that I'll get to where I'll feel it a little bit still. But we're trying to let it calm down as much as we can right now."

Regardless of the severity, Martinez admitted the club will need to get another catcher to Phoenix before Friday night's game. Pedro Severino finished out this game, with Wilmer Difo and Moisés Sierra each warming up the pitcher at different times in case either needed to be used in an emergency.

With Miguel Montero released, Jhonatan Solano on the 60-day disabled list and Raudy Read serving a 50-game suspension, the Nationals' only catching options at Triple-A Syracuse are 34-year-old Tuffy Gosewisch (owner of a .197 batting average in 137 big league games) and 27-year-old Spencer Kieboom (currently hitting .213 in 24 games for the Chiefs). Neither is on the organization's 40-man roster.

Whatever concerns they had for Wieters at that moment he went down, the Nationals had keep their focus on what became a tense, nip-and-tuck ballgame, with Tanner Roark and Greinke throwing up dueling zeros throughout.

The Diamondbacks finally broke the deadlock in the bottom of the fifth, with none other than Greinke himself delivering the big hit: a two-out single to left to score Ketel Marte. (The Arizona pitcher then promptly stole second base off an unsuspecting Roark.)

Greinke was cruising along, retiring 16 in a row at one point, before Michael A. Taylor led off the top of the eighth with a double into the left field corner. Though his starter's pitch count remained a modest 91, Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo decided to turn to relief ace Archie Bradley at that point, a move that ultimately backfired.

When Difo put down a nice bunt, Taylor advanced to third with one out. That's when Bradley made the odd choice to try a pickoff attempt, only to realize Daniel Descalso wasn't actually covering third base. Bradley paused for a moment before finishing his throw, and thus was called for a balk that allowed Taylor to walk home with the tying run.

The evening progressed into extra innings, with Madson and Kintzler each pitching out of a jam to extend the game and give the Nationals a chance to plate the winning run. They pulled it off in the 11th when Turner singled and Anthony Rendon walked, setting the stage for Adams to deliver his big hit.

"I stuck with my plan," said the big slugger, now 4-for-13 against lefties this season. "Set my sights a little bit to the left of center field to keep me on his good slider. And I saw a heater. My whole thing right now is trying to get my 'A swing' off on strikes. And it seems like it's working out."

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