Zimmerman homers as Nationals hold on to win slugfest over Athletics
OAKLAND, CALIF. | The National League’s top team showed it can win American League-style slugfest, too.
Ryan Zimmerman hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning, and the Washington Nationals held off the Oakland Athletics 11-10 on Sunday.
Matt Wieters and Michael Taylor added back-to-back homers off Frankie Montas during Washington’s five-run ninth, helping the NL East leaders improve to 5-1 on their nine-game West Coast trip.
But the Nationals (35-20) nearly blew an 11-4 lead in the ninth, highlighting their continued trouble with closing out games. Koda Glover allowed the first five batters to reach before he was replaced by Shawn Kelley, who surrendered a grand slam by Matt Joyce with one out. Kelley then retired the next two batters for his fourth save in six tries.
“That’s American League baseball,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “A lead is never safe because they’re used to coming back and having big innings because the offensive clubs hit the ball out of the ballpark. We didn’t walk guys to get to that situation, they hit us.”
Khris Davis had three hits and two RBIs for Oakland, including his 17th homer. Sonny Gray pitched seven effective innings, allowing three runs and four hits.
“Baseball’s a crazy sport, so things like that happen and at the end of the day it’s still a win,” Zimmerman said. “I’ve seen crazier things happen.”
The Athletics (24-32) have dropped seven of nine.
Gray was working with a 1-0 lead before Washington scored three times in the sixth. Trea Turner hit a two-run triple and scored on Brian Goodwin’s sacrifice fly.
“With that lineup, if you put guys on base, if you give guys free passes, they will do some damage,” Gray said. “You have to stay on top of your game with every hitter. With the exception of three batters, I thought it was an OK start.”
The Athletics tied it at 3 on Davis’ drive in the seventh, but the Nationals went ahead to stay in the eighth. Zimmerman drove a 3-1 change-up from Ryan Madsen (1-4) over the wall in left for his team-leading 16th homer.