Johnson ejected in fifth inning (Harper saves the day with walk-off homer)

Davey Johnson had joked in recent weeks that he was waiting to getting ejected for the first time this season. He wanted to pick a good spot, but figured his time was coming soon.

It happened today.

Johnson was ejected in the fifth inning of today’s game for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Mike Winters.

It’s the third time Johnson has been ejected as Nationals manager.

Johnson came out to argue a called third strike to Ian Desmond, a call that left Desmond furious and perhaps as agitated as I’ve seen him all season. It didn’t take long before Winters gave Johnson the heave-ho, and the 70-year-old Nats skipper said the rest of whatever he needed to get off his chest, quickly walked back to the Nats dugout and then down the tunnel.

Bench coach Randy Knorr will take over managing duties for Johnson.

Hitters on both teams have been displeased with calls by Winters all game. It’s been a weird, generous strike zone, for sure, and both Jayson Werth and Desmond protested called third strikes in the fifth inning when they came up with the bases loaded.

Check out some of the called strikes against right-handed hitters today.

After Werth and Desmond were called out on strikes, Denard Span grounded out to second to end the threat. The Nats had the bases loaded with none out, but they got nothing.

Their 4-1 lead was cut to 4-3 in the sixth when Josh Harrison hit a two-run shot off Gio Gonzalez, who has been living on the edge all game.

Gonzalez is done after 5 2/3 innings of work, having allowed three runs on eight hits with four walks and 11 strikeouts. He threw 119 pitches, 72 strikes.

Instant Update: Craig Stammen got out of the sixth, protecting the Nats’ 4-3 lead and keeping Gonzalez in line for his eighth win of the season.

This is the first time in Gonzalez’s career he’s had a double-digit strikeout outing in back-to-back games.

Update II: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has joined the let’s-get-ejected club.

First base umpire Laz Diaz ruled that Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez made a turn around first base and moved towards second with two outs in the top of the seventh, and when Desmond threw over to Adam LaRoche and LaRoche slapped the tag on Alvarez, Diaz called him out.

Hurdle came out to argue the call, and he quickly was tossed, meaning both managers have been ejected today.

I wonder if Johnson and Hurdle will find the mid-way point between the two clubhouses, grab a cold one and catch up on life. Not much else they can do until this one ends.

The umpires sure have found a way to work themselves into this series. We’ve seen a number of questionable calls here at Nats Park over the last few days.

The Nats still lead 4-3 going to the bottom of the seventh.

Update III: Steve Lombardozzi is having himself one heck of a ballgame. LaRoche is, as well.

Lombardozzi has made two dynamite defensive plays at second base today and is now 3-for-5 with two doubles following an RBI ground-rule double in the bottom of the eight that gave the Nats a key insurance run.

LaRoche added on, slapping a ball to right that got by Harrison and went for a two-run triple, making it a 7-3 Nats lead.

That’s now three triples for LaRoche this season, tying a career high. He also has a career-high three stolen bases. Wheels LaRoche is on a roll.

The Nats are three defensive outs from their first win in 11 days.

Update IV: My goodness. What a nightmare for the Nationals and their fans.

Rafael Soriano and Ian Krol combined to allow four runs in the top of the ninth, turning a comfortable 7-3 lead into a 7-7 tie game.

Soriano retired just a single batter and allowed all four runs on two hits and two walks. Krol was put in quite a jam, but he couldn’t work out of it, walking Pedro Alvarez and then allowing a two-run single to Harrison with two outs and two strikes in the inning.

That knock tied the game, and we go to the bottom of the ninth with this game knotted at 7-7.

Unreal. Just unreal.

Update V: Bryce Harper’s first career walk-off homer couldn’t have come at a better time.

Harper ripped a 1-1 slider from Bryan Morris into the red seats in left-center for a two-run walk-off shot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, lifting the Nats to a 9-7 win.

That’s Harper’s first homer since his first at-bat off the DL, back on July 1. And man, did the Nats need it.

It snaps a six-game losing streak.

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