Zimmermann earns 16th as Nats edge Phils

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Jordan Zimmermann earned his National League-leading 16th victory Wednesday night, and it was almost as much because of his fielding as his pitching.

Zimmermann (16-8) allowed two runs on seven hits over seven innings to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2, and his spectacular defensive play -- one of two the Nats made in the late innings -- paved the way for Washington's third victory in four games.

Steve Lombardozzi drove in the go-ahead run with an eighth-inning fielder's choice for the Nats, one inning after Ryan Zimmerman tied the game with a solo homer off Phillies reliever Zach Miner.

"We don't think we're out of it yet," said manager Davey Johnson, whose team is battling to stay in the NL wild-card race. "It was big to come back and get two wins (in the series)."

The Nats had lost the series opener, and were trailing 2-1 before Zimmerman's homer. And with the score tied at 2-2, runners at first and second and two outs in the seventh, Zimmermann ranged off the mound as Cesar Hernandez grounded a ball in the hole between first and second.

The ball was out of the reach of first baseman Adam LaRoche. Lombardozzi, the second baseman, fielded it on the outfield grass and after spinning made a one-hop throw that Zimmermann grabbed on the run as he narrowly beat Hernandez to the bag.

"I was just hoping Lombo hit me in the chest," Zimmermann said. "He threw it at my feet. I had to come up with something."

Washington reliever Craig Stammen wriggled out of a first-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth. He struck out Darin Ruf for the second out, but the ball bounced away from catcher Jhonatan Solano.

The runner at third, Chase Utley, attempted to score, but Solano dove and tagged him before Utley could reach the plate with a head-first slide.

Utley launched a mild protest, and Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg came out to discuss the play with plate umpire Chris Conroy. After the game Sandberg said that on a television replay it "looked like he just got him."

"First time I've ever seen a double play that way," Johnson said.

Nats closer Rafael Soriano pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 38th save.

Philadelphia's Roy Halladay, making his third start since returning from shoulder surgery, struggled with his command in the first two innings, when he threw 48 pitches. But Halladay, nicked for a run in the first, retired 12 of 13 in one stretch and departed after six innings with a 2-1 lead.

He threw 99 pitches, 57 for strikes, but allowed just three hits while striking out five, walking five and hitting two batters.

"I was feeling sorry for him in the first couple innings," Johnson said. "Then I was hating him as he went along, because he got better."

"He did make some adjustments," Sandberg said. "The guy's a tremendous competitor. ... That got him through six innings, gave us a chance to win."

Miner allowed the game-tying homer to Zimmerman in the seventh, and the Nats scratched out the eventual winning run against Jake Diekman (1-4) in the eighth, without the benefit of a hit.

LaRoche drove in a run with a first-inning sacrifice fly, but Hernandez doubled home two runs in the second.

NOTES: Washington CF Denard Span went 1-for-4, extending his career-best hitting streak to 17 games. It is also the longest streak by a Nat this season. ... Phillies 3B Cody Asche went 2-for-4 and has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games. He has five multi-hit games in his last seven. ... Nats OF Bryce Harper did not play after getting treatment on his injured left hip earlier in the day. ... Sandberg said before the game that RHP B.J. Rosenberg, who rode a 9 1/3-inning scoreless streak into Wednesday's game, has shown improvement in his velocity, location and breaking ball of late. "He's commanding both pitches," Sandberg said. "He's ahead of hitters. He's had the opportunity since he came back (from the minors) to pitch in big situations." ... The Phillies are off Thursday for the first time in 21 days. ... The Nationals announced before the game that RHP Tanner Roark would start Saturday in Miami, with RHP Ross Ohlendorf moving to the bullpen.
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