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Squeeze bunt in 11th helps Arizona win

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- In an old-school contest that hinged on pitching and defense, it was only fitting that a safety squeeze would produce the game-winning hit.

Speedy Didi Gregorius laid down a beauty in the top of the 11th inning to knock in the go-ahead run and give Arizona a 3-2 triumph over the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

The taut contest had Diamondbacks' manager Kirk Gibson abuzz afterward.

"That was one of the better games we've played in a while," he said, listing a series of defensive gems by his squad that prevented Arizona from getting swept by Washington.

It also improved the Diamondbacks' record in extra-inning games to 9-2.

Miguel Montero led off the 11th with a ground-rule double to center off Craig Stammen (4-3). Cody Ross followed with a sacrifice bunt, and after a walk to Jason Kubel, Gregorius pushed a perfect bunt into the no-man's land between home and first to give the Diamondbacks the lead.

"It's a play we haven't used much this year," Gibson said. "(The Nationals) suspected it early. It was a great bunt. We had speed at the plate and speed at third. It worked out good for us."

Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said there was little the Nationals could do defensively to stop the well executed play.

"Unless you want to give up the left and right side of the infield, it's pretty much unstoppable," Zimmerman said.

Josh Collmenter (4-0) pitched a scoreless 10th inning to earn the win. Heath Bell worked around a single in the bottom of the 11th to earn his 14th save of the season.

Pitching aces Patrick Corbin and Stephen Strasburg lived up to the hype in their mound showdown, but neither was around for the decision.

Both starters finished with similar lines, and each made one mistake. Arizona's Corbin allowed Ian Desmond's team-leading 13th home run in the fourth, a two-run shot, and Strasburg gave up a sixth-inning, two-run homer to Aaron Hill. It was Hill's third long ball of the season.

"He's a great pitcher and I knew it was going to be a tough game to score some runs," Corbin said. "I just knew it was going to be low scoring, so I wanted to go out there and put up as many zeros as possible. We worked (Strasburg)'s pitch count up early and Hill got to him on that one swing."

The game featured great defensive plays along with the solid pitching efforts.

Arizona's Gerardo Parra crashed into the center field wall to take away an extra-base hit from Tyler Moore in the seventh, and later in that inning, Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt robbed Denard Span of a go-ahead RBI double.

Zimmerman almost won the game for Washington in the 10th, hitting a deep drive to right that brought the crowd to its feet, but Ross gathered the ball on the warning track to set the stage for Arizona's victory.

"It was that kind of a ballgame," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "A couple of home runs and then a safety squeeze beats us."

Both pitchers were sharp early, despite a 62-minute rain delay to start the game.

Strasburg only needed eight pitches to retire Arizona in order in the first inning and didn't allow his first hit until a bloop single by Parra in the third.

Corbin allowed a stinging double off the base of the scoreboard in left field by Zimmerman in the first inning but settled down after that, striking out five Nationals in his first five innings.

NOTES: All signs point to Washington calling up RHP Taylor Jordan to pitch Saturday's game at New York. The Nationals outrighted RHP Ryan Perry to Double-A Harrisburg, opening a spot on the 40-man roster. Manager Davey Johnson did not officially confirm the move but smiled when asked about Jordan. ... Arizona INF Willie Bloomquist, who was hit on the left hand by a pitch during Wednesday's game, was only available as a pinch runner, even though X-rays came back negative. ... Nationals OF Bryce Harper played six innings Thursday for Harrisburg while rehabbing his injured left knee, going 2-for-4. The team plans to activate Harper from the disabled list for Monday's game against Milwaukee if all goes well. ... The Diamondbacks continue their 10-game trip in Atlanta on Friday. The Nationals play three in New York against the Mets this weekend.

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