Vidro's walk-off secures finale vs. Cards

Vidro's walk-off secures finale vs. Cards

WASHINGTON -- Nationals second baseman Jose Vidro has had better days. Late last week, manager Frank Robinson told him that his playing time would decrease significantly because the organization wanted to see what Bernie Castro could do on a regular basis. In fact, Vidro sat on the bench in three of the last four games prior to Wednesday's game.

To make matters worse, Vidro was in a 5-for-35 slump, seeing his batting average drop from .301 to .289. It has been a trying year for Vidro, to say the least. Injuries took a toll on him again. For the third year in a row, he was placed on the disabled list, this time because of a left hamstring injury.

"He goes and plays hard as much as he can," teammate Ryan Zimmerman said. "He has been banged up all year. I think a lot of people don't really know how much he might be banged up."

But on Wednesday morning, Vidro had a good feeling when he left his apartment because of what he saw from a traffic light.

"There's always light when I go out of my apartment," Vidro explained. "And it's always red. This morning, it was green. I said, 'Maybe it was going to be a good day for me.'"

It turned out to be a great day for Vidro. In the clubhouse, Robinson asked Vidro if he wanted to play. Vidro didn't hesitate with the answer and said he was ready to play. It turned out that Vidro was the hero of the game, as his single in the bottom of the ninth inning helped the Nationals defeat the Cardinals, 7-6, and take two out of three games from St. Louis.

The Nationals were losing, 6-5, going into the final frame but rallied for the win against Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen, who lost control of his pitches. Isringhausen walked Felipe Lopez to lead off the inning. After getting Zimmerman to fly out, Isringhausen hit Nick Johnson with a pitch and after getting ahead of Ryan Church, 0-2, Isringhausen couldn't get that third strike and walked Church to load the bases.

Up stepped Vidro, a player who entered the game hitting .256 with runners in scoring position. He took a 1-0 pitched and singled past St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols to score Lopez and Johnson to win the game.

"I had to throw one down the middle to get a strike," Isringhausen said. "Walking in a run is the worst thing. [I was] just missing with everything. I didn't have very good mechanics -- couldn't throw a strike."

Vidro went 2-for-5 with three RBIs. It was the first time he had an RBI since July 14 against the Pirates.

"I missed a lot of chances to come through for the ballclub," Vidro said. "This is definitely the biggest hit of the year for me. I've been sitting on the bench watching games alone the last couple of days. I miss playing out there. Frank asked me if I wanted to play and I think it was a great decision.

"I have a lot of playing left in me. I feel like I can play everyday. I'm feeling better every day. It's funny, a couple of months ago, I was doing great. I got injured and I'm struggling a little bit and they told me I was not going to be playing much because they want to see Castro. I don't know what to say. They have a lot of decisions to make. I don't want to add to it. I'm just happy came through today for the ballclub and we won the ballgame."

The Nationals have won six of their last seven games, and five of those victories are of the comeback variety. Zimmerman credits the fact that the team has changed dramatically since Opening Day and the veterans are feeding off the younger players on the squad.

"It's kind of like a new team we have here. We made a lot of moves. A lot of younger players are up here, so for us to finish strong this year is really important," Zimmerman said. "A lot of these teams are in playoff contention. I think winning like this is proving to ourselves that we can do it."

Prior to Vidro's heroics, the game went back-and-forth. The Nationals were leading, 5-4, when St. Louis scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning. With closer Chad Cordero on the mound and John Rodriguez on first base, Preston Wilson took a 2-2 slider and launched it into the left-field upper deck for a two-run homer. Wilson slammed his bat before running to first base, knowing that it was gone.

"That's either a second or third pitch in his arsenal," Robinson said. "You prefer not to get beat on those pitches."

At one point earlier in the game, it looked like the Nationals had the game wrapped up. Washington was losing, 3-1, when it scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning off Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter.

With runners on first and third and no outs, Vidro singled to left field to drive in Johnson to make it a one-run game.

After Robert Fick singled up the middle to load the bases, Nook Logan struck out, but pinch-hitter Brian Schneider singed up the middle to score Church and tie the game at 3.

Alfonso Soriano followed and gave the Nationals the lead with a single past shortstop Aaron Miles to send Vidro and pinch-runner Melvin Dorta home to make it 5-3.

The Cardinals made it a one-run game in the top of the seventh when Yadier Molina homered over the left-field wall off Jon Rauch.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.