WASHINGTON (AP)—Jesus Flores struck out three times while going hitless in his first four at-bats Wednesday night, flailing at pitches outside the strike zone.
His final time up, he waited for a good one and turned his night around.
Flores struck out in his first two at-bats before grounding to short with runners at second and third and no outs in the sixth. He then struck out with the bases loaded and none out in the seventh before getting the game-winning hit off Scot Shields (3-2).
“After having bad at-bats before, I tried to calm down myself a little bit because I know I was swinging at a lot of bad pitches,” Flores said. “In that situation right there, I just prepared myself to look for that pitch and was glad that he just left it there.”
Washington manager Manny Acta was impressed with his young catchers’ composure in tense situations.
“He doesn’t get rattled,” Acta said. “He doesn’t care who he’s facing or the situation. He’s got a tremendous knowledge of the strike zone (and) that gives him a chance.”
Shields has pitched well this season (2.53 ERA), but said he just didn’t have it.
“They’ve got some pretty good young talent there,” Shields said. “They got me today.”
The Nationals snapped a four-game losing streak and ended the Angels’ five-game winning streak. Each of Washington’s last four wins at home have come in its last at-bat.
It’s one of the few things that’s gone right lately for the injury-riddled Nationals, who have seven players on the disabled list. They had lost seven of eight and blew a two-run lead late against the Angels.
Closer Jon Rauch (4-1) threw 1 2-3 scoreless innings and got the victory. He retired all five batters he faced.
Washington’s Aaron Boone got his 1,000th career hit on an infield single in the eighth inning, becoming the fourth member of his family to reach that mark in the majors. His grandfather Ray (1,260 hits), father Bob (1,838) and brother Bret (1,775) all got there, too.
Milledge gave Washington a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer in the first. That hit ended the center fielder’s 0-for-14 skid. He finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Casey Kotchman tied it in third with an RBI single—the team’s fourth straight hit. Howie Kendrick then followed with a fly ball to right, but Dukes ended the inning by easily throwing out Garret Anderson at home.
“I thought it was the right play,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “He caught it flat-footed, (but) he just came up and made a good throw.”
The Nationals took a 4-2 lead in the sixth when Ronnie Belliard drew a bases-loaded walk off starter Ervin Santana, and Wily Mo Pena followed with an RBI single. But the Angels tied it in the eighth on Kotchman’s RBI double and Kendrick’s sacrifice fly.
Redding has seven consecutive no-decisions. … Los Angeles RHP Kelvim Escobar, who’s missed the entire season with a torn labrum, threw two innings on Wednesday in the Arizona Summer League. … Angels SS Maicer Izturis missed his fourth game with a strained hamstring. … OF Vladimir Guerrero sat out after leaving Tuesday’s game early with flu-like symptoms.
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