WASHINGTON – Bryce Harper has a suggestion for those looking for the perfect word to describe the Washington Nationals’ recent run of walk-off victories and nine straight wins overall.
Harper scored the winning run on pinch hitter Anthony Rendon’s single in the ninth inning as Washington edged the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 on Wednesday night.
“It’s absolutely epic. That’s the best word I can put out there,” Harper said.
Five of Washington’s last six victories have been by a single run, with four coming in its last at-bat.
“It’s been incredible,” Harper said. “This team has a lot of fight, a lot of heart. We never die.”
Harper opened the ninth with a single off Evan Marshall (4-3) and went to third base on Kevin Frandsen’s one-out single. Out of the starting lineup for the first time in 63 games, Rendon singled past third baseman Cliff Pennington to win it.
“It was different to say the least, but it was awesome,” Rendon said of the pinch hit.
Neither epic nor awesome describes the feeling manager Matt Williams feels watching the slew of walk-off wins.
“It’s gratifying for (the players), it’s exciting for them,” Williams said. “It’s not a whole of fun in the dugout for the staff, but that’s OK.”
The Nationals last won nine in a row when they matched a franchise record by winning 10 straight in June 2005.
The NL East leaders also extended their home winning streak to eight and opened up a seven-game lead over Atlanta.
Rafael Soriano (3-1) pitched the ninth for the win.
Arizona has lost five straight and is 5-13 in August.
“In the end, they out-executed us in every phase of the game,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “They pitched good and we didn’t pitch good enough. They outfielded us. They outhit us.”
Two of Washington’s wins in this series have come in its last at-bat after Arizona tied the game late.
Tanner Roark threw seven scoreless innings for the Nationals and left with a 2-0 lead. He gave up five hits.
The Diamondbacks tied it in the eighth on Ender Inciarte’s two-run homer against reliever Tyler Clippard.
Drew Storen replaced Clippard with one on in the eighth, eventually stranding the runner at third base.
Arizona starter Trevor Cahill allowed two runs and six hits over 6⅓ innings.
Padres 4, Dodgers 1
In Los Angeles, Alexi Amarista had two hits and drove in a run, Eric Stults combined with three relievers on a six-hitter, and San Diego beat the NL West-leading Dodgers.
Stults (6-13) allowed one run in five innings, struck out five and walked one.
Rymer Liriano went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, and Seth Smith went 2-for-5 for the Padres, who pounded out 11 hits in ending a two-game skid.
Pirates 3, Braves 2
In Pittsburgh, Justin Upton dropped a routine fly ball in the ninth inning which set the stage for Gaby Sanchez’s game-winning sacrifice fly that capped a comeback as the Pirates edged Atlanta.
David Carpenter (4-4) took the loss after allowing an unearned run.
Pittsburgh snapped a seven-game losing streak, and ended the Braves’ five-game winning streak.
Giants 8, Cubs 3
In Chicago, Jake Peavy pitched seven solid innings in his fifth start with San Francisco, and the Giants rolled past the Cubs.
Hunter Pence and Andrew Susac homered, and Travis Ishikawa drove in three runs with pair of doubles among three hits to help San Francisco strengthen its hold on an NL wild card spot.
Struggling starter Edwin Jackson (6-14) was hit hard in just 2⅔ innings, his shortest outing of the season. He allowed seven runs, eight hits and two walks. Jackson has lost seven of eight decisions.
Cardinals 7, Reds 3
In St. Louis, Lance Lynn beat Cincinnati for the third straight time, Jhonny Peralta hit a bases-clearing double, and the Cardinals completed a three-game sweep.
Reds starter Johnny Cueto (15-7) was off-kilter from the get-go and missed a chance to become the majors’ first 16-game winner. He allowed five runs in five innings, and his seven-game winning streak ended.
St. Louis has won eight of nine and swept Cincinnati at home for the first time since Sept. 26-28, 2008. The Reds have lost 10 of 12, with Cueto getting the two wins.