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After an 8-2 road trip, the Nationals return home tonight to face the Mets.
Desmond's return from a month on the DL with an oblique tear does force one significant change: Werth becomes the Nationals' primary leadoff hitter moving forward, though Johnson did say he wants to try to find ways to get Steve Lombardozzi in the lineup whenever possible.
This new-look lineup will be facing Johan Santana, who on June 1 threw the first no-hitter in Mets history, needing 134 pitches to do it. In nine starts since, the left-hander is 3-6 with a 7.98 ERA. Yikes. Ross Detwiler gets the ball for the Nationals, bumped up a day in the rotation to avoid pitching back-to-back with fellow lefty Gio Gonzalez, who will start Sunday's series finale.
Plenty of updates to come live from the ballpark...
NEW YORK METS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Chance of storms, 86 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to CF
RF Jayson Werth
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
LHP Ross Detwiler
SS Ruben Tejada
CF Andres Torres
3B David Wright
RF Scott Hairston
1B Daniel Murphy
2B Ronny Cedeno
LF Jason Bay
C Kelly Shoppach
LHP Johan Santana
HP Brian Runge
1B Marvin Hudson
2B Jordan Baker
3B Ted Barrett (cc)
7:07 p.m. -- And we are underway on a muggy night in the nation's capital. Big crowd on hand as Ross Detwiler starts off Ruben Tejada with a fastball for strike one.
7:17 p.m. -- Well, that wasn't the top of the first inning Detwiler wanted. He got a couple of quick outs and appeared to be in good shape, but then surrendered three consecutive two-out hits, the last of which brought home two runs. Even worse, Bryce Harper uncorked a throw to the plate that had no chance of getting trail runner Scott Hairston and airmailed everyone in the process, hitting the backstop to allow the batter (Daniel Murphy) to advance to second base. Detwiler then immediately walked Ronny Cedeno on four pitches, and that brought Steve McCatty out of the dugout for a forceful chat with the young left-hander. Detwiler got out of the mess without suffering any more damage, but the Nats are already down 2-0.
7:25 p.m. -- A fairly quick bottom of the first for Johan Santana, who retired the side. There was an interesting battle with Harper, though. The rookie tried to bunt Santana's first pitch and fouled it off, then took a strike to fall into an 0-2 hole. Harper fought his way back to a 2-2 count, though, then was brushed back by a high and tight fastball that went to the backstop. You had to assume Santana was using that heater to set up something slow down and away, but he actually came back with another fastball down in the zone and perhaps caught Harper by surprise. He made solid contact but was a little late and wound up flying out harmlessly to left field. Harper is now hitting .245 for the season.
7:32 p.m. -- Much better stuff from Detwiler in the top of the second. He got three groundball outs (with Zimmerman making a great stop to his left for one of the outs). And he needed only 10 pitches (eight strikes) to get through the inning. We move to the bottom of the second, the Nats still trailing 2-0.
7:41 p.m. -- Pretty good battle between Desmond and Santana in his first at-bat off the DL. Ian worked the count full and fouled off several pitches before finally flying out right. But he took some good hacks and certainly didn't look like someone who hadn't seen a big-league pitcher in four weeks.
7:54 p.m. -- Interesting ... Santana had a gold Rawlings insignia on his glove through the first couple innings. Now it's covered up in blue tape. Wonder if somebody on the Nats side requested he do that because it was a distraction to the hitters?
8:01 p.m. -- Santana is perfect through three innings. The Nationals seriously should've tracked down Levale Speigner, signed him to a one-day contract and started him in this game. (If you get that joke, you've been a true Nats fan for a while now.) Still 2-0 Mets through three.
8:21 p.m. -- OK, I'm not normally one to toot my own horn, but I gotta break with tradition here because I just called Michael Morse's grand slam seconds before he hit it. Even called the precise location where he'd hit it: Over the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center. I swear! I've got witnesses in the press box! Anyways, what a rally by the Nats, starting with Werth's leadoff single up the middle to break up Santana's abbreviated perfect game bid. Harper and Zimmerman followed with a couple more sharp singles up the middle, and that brought Morse to the plate as the crowd started to rumble sensing what might happen. The place exploded when Morse made contact and drove the ball to right-center, then gave him a curtain call after he returned to the dugout. Really cool moment there, as the Nats take a 4-2 lead after four.
8:43 p.m. -- Now Harper takes Santana deep to right, a two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth for what surely must have been a cathartic home run trot around the bases for the rookie. Harper has shown some nice adjustments at the plate tonight against Santana. He was late in his first at-bat and flied out to left. Then he caught up some and singled up the middle his next time up. And now he pulls a homer to right. Good stuff. Nats now lead 6-2 after five.
8:50 p.m. -- When did Scott Hairston become a Nats killer? Seriously, he's got three doubles tonight, the most of recent of which led to a run scoring in the top of the sixth. It's now 6-3, with Detwiler on 84 pitches. You'd think he'll return for the seventh.
9:00 p.m. -- Or maybe not. Craig Stammen is in for the top of the seventh. Detwiler's final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 84 pitches, 53 strikes. All in a ll, a solid night for the lefty, especially after he got through that shaky first inning. Nats still up 6-3.
9:07 p.m. -- Hmm, and Stammen is immediately greeted by Kelly Shoppach with a leadoff home run on a 2-0 fastball, cutting the lead to 6-4. An inauspicious way for Craig's relief appearance to begin. He settled down, though, and retired the next three, two of them on strikeouts. So we've reached the stretch with the Nats up two runs.
9:22 p.m. -- Here's Drew Storen to pitch the eighth, his first appearance since a terrible outing Tuesday in San Francisco. Big spot here for the right-hander.
9:26 p.m. -- A shaky start to the eighth for Storen, who fell behind David Wright 2-0, then after getting the count to 2-2 served up a soft single up the middle. But thanks to a fantastic 5-4-3 double play with an impressive scoop from Zimmerman and a really impressive turn from Espinosa, Storen cleared the bases and then got Murphy to ground out to end the inning. So it's still 6-4 and the Nats are three outs from securing this victory.
9:35 p.m. -- OK, here's Tyler Clippard for the ninth. He'll face Cedeno, a pinch-hitter, Shoppach and possibly (gulp!) Valdespin.
9:50 p.m. -- It's over. Clippard issued two walks in the ninth (including one to the hated Valdespin) but he bounced back to get Ruben Tejada and secure a 6-4 win for the Nats. They're 29 games over .500 after starting off the homestand in fine fashion.