WASHINGTON -- The Yankees and Nationals found themselves in a slugfest on Tuesday night, and it was Ryan Zimmerman's home run in the 10th inning that won it for the Nats, 8-6, at Nationals Park. It was Zimmerman's 10th walk-off home run of his career.
"I'm just happy for the win, being able to help us win games. That's the most important thing," Zimmerman said.
With one out and Yunel Escobar on first, Zimmerman swung at a 3-1 pitch from left-hander Andrew Miller and hit the ball off the right-field foul pole.
"It was real fair in the beginning, and then it started to take a right turn," Zimmerman said. "I know I hit it good enough. It was a matter of staying fair. I got lucky, and then it hit the pole. Sometimes you feel lucky."
Said Miller, "He's a good hitter and he's been doing it for a long time. Unfortunately I've seen the other side of it for a long time. I've got to throw a better pitch right there; a pitch that can't hurt me that bad."
The Yankees had a 6-2 lead after five innings, but the Nationals came back and tied the score at 6 in the sixth, when Wilson Ramos clubbed a solo shot to extend his hitting streak to 19 games.
With the victory, the Nationals are in a first-place tie with the Mets in the National League East at 23-17, while the Yankees dropped their record to 22-18 and fell into a first-place tie with the Rays in the American League East.
"I just like the way we are going about it," manager Matt Williams said. "Tonight is a difficult climb. We are down early, and the guys battled. You are going to face two of the best pitchers of the game at the end of the game. I just like the way we are going about it. Their energy, they are playing well. They feel like they are in the game, they battle back, so I like that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Nats score first with long ball, then rally: In the first inning, the Nationals took a 2-0 lead against right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. With one out, Ian Desmond hit a solo homer, while Bryce Harper hit his National League-leading 15th home run. Then, down, 6-2, in the fifth, the Nationals made it a one-run game by scoring three runs. Clint Robinson, Desmond and Escobar had RBI hits before Ramos' tying blast.
"They did a great job. Great job by everybody," Williams said. "A game like that and we get back in it. We tried to mix and match as best as we could. The fact that we got back into it, you credit the offense." More >
'Evo' exits: Eovaldi's return to the NL, where he led the Senior Circuit with 223 hits allowed last season as a member of the Marlins, was one that he'd rather forget. The right-hander coughed up most of a 6-2 lead and couldn't get out of the fifth inning, with manager Joe Girardi refusing to let him face Harper one more time. Justin Wilson ended the inning by getting Harper to ground into a double play, but Eovaldi should have expected better, especially given a big early cushion.
"In the fifth inning, I just fell apart," Eovaldi said. "Walking the leadoff batter after we put up four runs in the fourth, and two more in the fifth, it's just frustrating. I've got to be able to bear down, make better pitches than that and get back to the dugout."
Bragging rights: Yankees left-hander Chasen Shreve has known Harper since he was 16; they both grew up in the Las Vegas area, were teammates at the College of Southern Nevada and still golf together during the offseason. Harper may be the reigning NL Player of the Week, but Shreve can claim the upper hand in their friendship after striking the slugger out with two men on to end the seventh inning. Shreve said he also retired Harper once in the Minor Leagues, on a first-pitch popout. More >
"The way he's swinging the bat, any way you get him out, we'll take it," Girardi said. "Our guys did a really good job."
MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT
Wilmer Difo, the Nationals' No. 7 prospect, was called up from Double-A earlier Tuesday and singled in his first at-bat, when he entered as a pinch-hitter during a tie game in the seventh inning. More >
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
After Harper hit his home run, Girardi questioned whether the ball went over the wall after a fan made contact with the ball. Crew chief Jim Joyce checked the replay, and after one minute and two seconds, the call was confirmed.
"We knew we were going to play baseball like we were supposed to. There are going to be times when you don't play good like we did at the beginning of the year. The key, obviously, is to not have long stretches like that. ... We stayed the course, kept working hard and do what we do every day. We knew we would turn around. We have a long way to go. We have to keep playing like we did the last two weeks if we want to get where we want to be." -- Zimmerman
Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury left the game in the fourth inning with a right knee sprain, which he sustained while swinging at a changeup, and he will be placed on the 15-day disabled list. More >
Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild was ejected by Joyce for arguing balls and strikes in the ninth inning. Girardi said that the Yankees had issues with Joyce's strike zone preceding Denard Span's inning-ending double-play ball.
"We thought there were some close pitches," Girardi said. "It's part of the game. We yell on a constant basis."
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: The Yanks will send right-hander Adam Warren (2-2, 4.50 ERA) to the mound for his eighth start of the season as they complete this two-game series against the Nationals on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. It's an important outing for Warren, who is coming off his first career quality start and is hoping to keep his spot in the rotation with Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova close to beginning Minor League rehab assignments.
Nationals:Jordan Zimmermann (3-2, 3.66 ERA) will make the start for Washington. In his last start on Friday, he won his third game of the season after pitching six scoreless innings, allowing six hits and striking out six as the Nationals pounded the Padres, 10-0.