Rookie Robles rising to occasion in big moments

ATLANTA - The bottom of the ninth at SunTrust Park last night left a sour taste in the Nationals’ mouths. But it couldn’t completely wash away the brief moment of exuberance they felt in the top of the ninth when Victor Robles provided his latest bit of late-game heroics.

Robles’ game-tying, two-run homer with two outs against Braves closer Luke Jackson was a jaw-dropping moment for the Nationals rookie, who has provided several of them already this season.

“That was an unbelievable home run, a great swing,” manager Davey Martinez said.

Robles-Swing-Gray-Philly-Sidebar.jpgRobles absolutely demolished Jackson’s 2-1 fastball, sending it soaring 446 feet into the left field bleachers. And he insisted he wasn’t trying to tie the game with one swing.

“Absolutely not,” the 22-year-old said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. “I’m just trying to find a way to get on base any way I can. Fortunately those big hits have been coming my way.”

They sure have. Robles has now delivered three game-tying or go-ahead homers this season, two of those coming with two outs in the ninth. (He did it to Philadelphia’s H├ęctor Neris in April.)

What is it that allows a rookie to handle those situations so well?

“He has the poise,” Martinez said. “He’s a kid. He loves the game. And he likes big moments. And he’s proving that.”

Robles, who plays the game with plenty of emotion, tries not to let the moment become too big for him.

“I know it’s a situation where the team really needs me,” he said. “So I try to stay patient up at the plate and just make any adjustments I have to.”

Robles has been on a prolonged tear at the plate. Over his last 27 games, he’s batting .315 with five homers, 19 RBIs and a .947 OPS.

He’s made some subtle tweaks, but nothing dramatic to help him get going at the plate.

“I’ve always taken the same approach and the same adjustments,” he said. “The only thing is, I was opened up a little bit (in the batter’s box). But now I’m just staying back a little bit more and seeing the fastball and waiting on the fastball.”

He waited on a fastball last night. And he did everything he possibly could with it.

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