WASHINGTON (AP) — Bottom of the ninth, game tied and the potential winning run is on base. In these moments, there is nowhere Jayson Werth would rather be than walking to the plate with bat in hand.
Werth hit a game-winning RBI double in the bottom of the ninth after the Brewers tied it in the top of the inning and the Washington Nationals beat Milwaukee 5-4 on Sunday afternoon.
Washington’s bullpen tossed five scoreless innings in relief of Gio Gonzalez until Rickie Weeks’ RBI single in the ninth off closer Rafael Soriano (1-1), who earned the win despite blowing his third save in 25 chances.
Anthony Rendon reached on a fielder’s choice against Rob Wooten (1-4) with two outs in the ninth.
“That’s what it’s all about, right? It’s why we do this,” Werth said of the pressure-packed moment. “If you find yourself in that situation and you don’t want to be there, I think you’re in the wrong line of work.”
Taking advantage of a 3-1 count, the right fielder drilled the pitch into the left field corner, scoring Rendon from first.
“I’m still huffing and puffing,” Rendon said.
Washington took two of three in the series between teams that entered Sunday as division leaders. The Nationals have won four of five overall.
Ryan Zimmerman had two hits, including a two-run homer, for the Nationals.
The Brewers have lost 13 of 16. Tied with St. Louis entering Sunday, Milwaukee has led or held a share of first place of the NL Central every day since April 5.
Pinch-hitter Scooter Gennett singled with one out against Soriano in the ninth, took second on Carlos Gomez’s walk and scored on Weeks’ base hit.
The Brewers were 1 of 8 with runners in scoring position before Weeks’ at-bat.
Staked to a 3-1 lead, Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo allowed four runs and eight hits over six innings. Gallardo has not won since June 19 and is 0-2 with 7.33 ERA in his last four starts.
“You always want to start on a good mode coming out of the break. This was a tough game,” Gallardo said. “You’ve got to forget about it. We’re going home.”
Gonzalez allowed three runs on four hits with four walks and five strikeouts on 88 pitches over 3 1-3 innings. He left in the fourth with a runner at third and trailing 2-1. Gomez’ RBI groundout against Craig Stammen gave the Brewers 3-1 lead.
Khris Davis and Jonathan Lucroy also drove in runs for Milwaukee.
Gonzalez had his start pushed back one day after flight issues caused a delay in his return to Washington following the All-Star break.
“Nine days off. It didn’t help missing bullpen (session) and doing all that (work),” Gonzalez said. “Obviously my command and fastball location wasn’t where I wanted it to be.”
Stammen retired all eight batters he faced after replacing Gonzalez.
Zimmerman’s opposite field homer tied the game at 3-3. Jose Lobaton scored later in the inning with two outs on Gallardo’s wild pitch.
Milwaukee loaded the bases with out in the second inning due in part to Zimmerman’s throwing error. Gonzalez escaped the jam with back-to-back strikeouts.
The errant toss was the first error in 13 games for Zimmerman, who has battled right shoulder injuries, since returning to third base on June 30.
The Nationals scored first on Ian Desmond’s RBI hit in the second. They celebrated last on Werth’s clutch hit.
“Any time you get a walk-off win it’s big for team morale,” Stammen said. “Hopefully it will send us on a nice little winning streak.”
Notes: Adam LaRoche’s second-inning single snapped a 0-for-18 skid. …Gonzalez’s final strikeout doubled as the 1,000th for his career. …Milwaukee fell to 29-21 on the road this season. …The Brewers return to Milwaukee for a seven-game homestand, starting with Cincinnati on Monday. Wily Peralta (10-6, 3.72) faces Reds starters and fellow RHP Mat Latos (2-1, 2.79). …RHP Doug Fister starts for Washington on Monday at Colorado versus Rockies LHP Franklin Morales (5-4, 5.26).
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