Nats fend off D-backs late to end slide

Nats fend off D-backs late to end slide

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals showed they are going give the Mets a battle in the National League East on Tuesday night. After blowing an early three-run lead, Washington fought back to defeat the D-backs, 5-4, thanks to an eighth-inning single by Wilson Ramos.

The Nationals snapped their four-game losing streak and remain a game behind the Mets, who defeated the Marlins, 5-1. Max Scherzer had a 3-0 lead in the first inning but couldn't hold on, as Arizona scored three runs in the fourth. Chris Owings highlighted the scoring with a two-run double.

The D-backs' bullpen was called on early, with Josh Collmenter replacing starter Patrick Corbin with one out in the second inning. The Nationals' offense was held in check until the eighth, when Ramos knocked in Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth with a bloop to right field off David Hernandez.

Ramos' late go-ahead single

The D-backs tightened the game in the ninth. With two outs, Nick Ahmed hit what looked like a routine ground ball to third baseman Yunel Escobar. Game over, right? Escobar's throw sailed over Zimmerman at first base and allowed Jake Lamb to score. But Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon was unfazed with the potential tying run on second base, getting Cliff Pennington to ground out to end it.

"We need to start winning games. We need to start playing ball the way we know how and I think we'll be all right," Werth said. "It's a matter of time. We are a great second-half team. Half of our team has been hurt all year. That's the reality of it. When we all got back, we were in first place. We are a game back now. Going forward, we get ... healthy, get rolling, it's our division to lose."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Nats erupt in first, eighth:
The Nationals teed off on Corbin, who allowed three runs in 1 1/3 innings. Escobar started the scoring with a leadoff home run. After Corbin left the game, the Nationals couldn't touch Collmenter for 3 2/3 innings. The Nationals didn't fare any better against Andrew Chafin. But in the eighth, after Zimmerman walked and went to third on Werth's clutch double, Ramos blooped a one-out single to right field for the go-ahead RBIs.

"[Ramos' hit] was huge. We needed something like that," Scherzer said. "I thought we hit some balls really hard. The D-backs made some great plays to chase them down. But I felt we really did some good things at the plate. Finally, we get Willie up there and he got one in there."

Escobar's leadoff shot

Protecting the future: Just 17 months removed from Tommy John surgery, Corbin is being handled carefully by the D-backs. So when he threw 36 pitches in the first inning, it became clear it would be a short night for him, and 18 pitches into the second inning he was done.

"I know I'm going to be on a tight limit if I get into some trouble," Corbin said. "Today was one of those days where I threw a lot of pitches in the first inning. I had it in my mind a little bit, knowing that I'd have to have quick innings to stay in. They just came out swinging, hit everything hard and it didn't seem like I missed a barrel and I wasn't really fooling them today."

Scherzer reaches milestone: Scherzer received a no-decision, but he struck out Paul Goldschmidt in the fifth inning for career strikeout 1,500. Scherzer is the first pitcher to notch his 1,500th strikeout as a member of the Nationals.

Scherzer strikes out nine

"It's a really cool milestone," Scherzer said. "It's performance and durability. We keep seeing guys go down with shoulder injuries, elbow injuries. I've been fortunate to stay away from that and be durable and make 30-plus starts. It's the reason I've been able to get to this milestone at this point and time. It's a good feeling to reach that milestone."

Saving the staff (again): After tossing 76 pitches in a 4 2/3-innings relief stint Saturday that helped keep the bullpen from being taxed, Collmenter threw 3 2/3 innings of one-hit ball on 62 pitches to once again help out the 'pen. More >

"It's bounced back," Collmenter said of his arm. "I try to bounce back as quick as possible, just the way we use our bullpen you need to be available as many times as you can, and it's something I pride myself on as well."

Collmenter's scoreless relief

QUOTABLE
"I respect the Mets. I respect what they do. At the end of the day, it's August. I'm not worried about anybody else. I really focus on what we do. If we get late in September and we scoreboard-watch, that's fine. But right now, it's not the time for it." -- Scherzer

"It was tough ball that beat us, the little blooper down the right-field line. Those are tough ones to take, but you know the guys gave everything they could and that's all we could ask of them." -- D-backs manager Chip Hale

Williams on bullpen, win

WHAT'S NEXT
D-backs: Rubby De La Rosa will make the start for Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. ET (4:05 MST) game against the Nationals. The right-hander allowed four earned runs over six innings Friday against the Astros. Over his past three starts -- all Arizona wins -- De La Rosa is 2-0 with 2.14 ERA.

Nationals: Gio Gonzalez is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in four career starts against the D-backs. He has pitched well lately, winning his past four decisions and lowering his ERA from 4.82 to 3.75 during that span.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.