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Nationals' victory over D-backs especially satisfying

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams understands how effective Brad Ziegler can be from watching him first-hand as Arizona's third base coach the last three years. That made the Nationals' 5-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday particularly satisfying.

Shortstop Ian Desmond's two-run single started a four-run ninth inning rally off Ziegler, who entered with an 0.86 ERA and not been scoring upon on in his last 19 appearances covering 18 1/3 innings.

"Those don't happen very often off him," Williams said. "He has a minuscule ERA for a reason. He's tough, especially on right-handers. But we were able to stay on a couple of baseballs today off him and get them in there."

Desmond hit a first-pitch fastball to left field after center fielder Denard Span walked to open the ninth, third baseman Anthony Rendon doubled and right fielder Jayson Werth was intentionally walked. Span fouled off four 3-2 pitches before drawing the walk.

"I just wanted to get a fastball and put a barrel on it," said Desmond, admitting he was first-pitch hunting, "especially against that guy.

"He is really good. He's got some really good numbers over the last few years. He's been effective. I just wanted to make sure I got something up in the zone, and beyond that let the hands work."

Desmond had two singles and was 4-for-12 in the series, with a two-run home run in the first game Monday and an RBI triple Tuesday. A two-time Silver Slugger winner, Desmond is hitting .226 after entering the series in 12-for-63 skid.

"It's a work in progress," Desmond said of his offense. "It's a long season. I think I'm at the point in my career where I know it is a marathon, not a sprint. Just have to keep on working hard."

Tyler Moore had a two-run single with one out against Ziegler to finish the scoring.

Right-hander Tyler Clippard (4-2) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth for the Nationals (21-19), who have won two of three.

Ziegler had not been scored upon since April 4 for Arizona (16-27), which lost a series for the first time in its last four. The Diamondbacks had won eight of their previous 12 games.

"Just left a couple balls up," Ziegler said. "Starting with a leadoff walk didn't help. After that, I felt like the pitch to Rendon was a pretty good pitch. Tip your hat because he drove it the other way. Maybe it was up a little bit, but one way or another just a good piece of hitting, and it kind of set the tone for the rest of the inning."

Ziegler leads the major leagues with 24 appearances, and Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said he believed Ziegler was a little worn down.

"We've asked him to do a lot, no doubt about it," Gibson said. "That's always the risk. He's had a pretty good run. It's hard not to go to him in that spot."

Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill had two hits, including a bases-empty home run in the fourth that broke a scoreless tie.

Werth's fifth home run of the season tied the score at 1 in the seventh.

Arizona starter Brandon McCarthy gave up two hits while striking out seven in eight innings, but the second hit was Werth's homer. McCarthy retired the first 12 batters he faced before Desmond led off the fifth inning with a single over the mound.

"Some of the changes I wanted to make off last week I felt like I was able to execute," McCarthy said.

"Mostly it was just trying to stay a little bit less on the plate -- missing a little bit more intentionally. If I get into a groove where it's just strike after strike after strike, for hitters if you know the ball is on the plate it's a little easier to adjust when my strength isn't changing speeds."

Nationals right-hander Doug Fister gave up five hits and one run in seven innings in his second start of the season. He missed the first six weeks with a right lat strain suffered in spring training and gave up eight hits, including three homers, in his first start, an 8-0 loss at Oakland on May 9.

"Good things and bad things," Fister said of his performance. "Getting behind a few hitters. Let my defense work. That's the name of the game. It's just finishing. Just a matter of executing."

NOTES: Arizona LHP Randy Wolf opted out of his minor league contract on Tuesday and signed with Florida. The Diamondbacks had until May 15 to put Wolf on their 25-man roster. ... The Chase Field roof was closed Wednesday afternoon. It was 86 degrees outside when the game began. ... 1B Adam LaRoche (back) returned to Washington on Wednesday and could begin rehab work by Sunday, Nationals manager Matt Williams said, adding that LaRoche could be ready to return from the disabled list when eligible on May 25. ... A robot built by suburban Paradise Valley High students threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
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