WASHINGTON (AP) — Ryan Zimmerman scored on Alfredo Simon’s wild pitch with two outs in the 10th inning, helping the Nationals extend their best start since moving to Washington with a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.
The Nationals improved to 5-2, good for first place in the NL East and treating an announced sellout crowd of 40,907 to a win w in the home opener for the first time since 2008.
Simon (0-1) hit Zimmerman with a pitch leading off the 10th, and one out later, Jayson Werth singled. A groundout pushed the runners to second and third with two outs. With Roger Bernadina at the plate, Simon threw an 0-1 pitch in the dirt, and Zimmerman slid under the tag after catcher Devin Mesoraco collected the ball and threw to Simon.
Zimmerman made up for some fielding issues he had at third base, including an error in the third inning, and balls he let get past him for hits in the eighth and ninth.
Craig Stammen (1-0) struck out the side in the 10th for the win.
The Nationals took a 2-0 lead into the ninth inning, but Brad Lidge blew the save. Lidge is sharing closer duties for Washington with Henry Rodriguez because Drew Storen had surgery Wednesday and will be out for months.
With one out, Lidge walked Joey Votto, then gave up Scott Rolen’s double and intentionally walked Jay Bruce to load the bases. The free pass didn’t work though, because Ryan Ludwick hit a two-run single past Zimmerman to tie the game.
The Nationals loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth but failed to score because Danny Espinosa grounded into a double play.
Earlier, it looked as if Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez would get his first win for his new team, which acquired him from Oakland for four prospects over the winter.
Gonzalez threw seven innings of two-hit ball, and fill-in cleanup hitter Adam LaRoche delivered a two-run, bases-loaded single in the fifth to put Washington ahead.
Gonzalez gave up a pair of doubles — to Bruce in the second, and Mesoraco in the fifth — and that was it, before leaving to a partial standing ovation and a handshake from manager Davey Johnson. Gonzalez didn’t walk a batter.
He even added his first major league hit, for good measure, a blooper of a single to left off Mat Latos with one out in the fifth, then rolled his neck, smiled broadly and chuckled a bit while standing on the bag at first.
Ian Desmond followed with a single, and Latos walked Espinosa to load the bases for Zimmerman, who signed a new contract during spring training that ties him to the Nationals through at least 2019. Zimmerman grounded to shortstop Zack Cozart, who threw home for the forceout.
LaRoche, the first baseman who played in only 43 games last season because of shoulder problems, was up next — and he came through. Hitting fourth in the lineup in place of the injured Michael Morse, LaRoche bounced a single through the middle to put the hosts ahead.
Latos went five innings, giving up two runs, five hits and three walks. It was much better than his less-than-five-inning first outing for the Reds, who got him from San Diego in a trade.
Cincinnati, still without injured second baseman Brandon Phillips, has scored eight runs in its past four games.
“I’m not a baseball genius, but I think this team’s a lot better than the ones we’ve had in the past,” Nationals owner Mark Lerner said. “We’re excited about how this season could go. But a lot of it’s not in our hands. Injuries and everything else could come into play, as they already have, unfortunately. Hopefully there’s enough depth here to get us through and make a run at it this September.”
NOTES: Phillips sat out a third consecutive game because of a left hamstring injury. Manager Dusty Baker doesn’t expect Phillips to play before Sunday. … Zimmerman made a diving reflex catch on Ludwick’s liner leading off the fifth. … A moment of silence was observed in memory of late Hall of Famer Gary Carter during the pregame ceremonies. A video montage of Carter playing for the Montreal Expos — the franchise that moved to Washington in 2005 — and the New York Mets was shown on the scoreboard. Carter died at age 57 in February from a brain tumor. … On Friday night, the Nationals will start RHP Jordan Zimmermann against Reds RHP Bronson Arroyo. … “Dancing with the Stars” champion J.R. Martinez threw out the ceremonial first pitch.