DENVER -- With the Rockies down by four in the ninth, Matt Holliday did everything he could to help spark a much-needed rally.
The Rockies were a half inning away from their third straight loss, and fourth in five games, to Pittsburgh and Washington at home. With a loss, they would have fallen back to .500 for the first time since July 26.
"We've known for the previous three games we had to get something going," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. "We had to have this game."
Instead, Colorado remained 4½ games behind San Diego in the wild-card race.
"This one meant a lot because of the Pittsburgh series," said Colorado catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who delivered a game-tying two-run single. "So to come back and win like we did tonight was definitely huge."
The Rockies trailed 5-1 going into the ninth, before Holliday hit his 23rd home run of the year off closer Chad Cordero (2-3). The Rockies then loaded the bases with no outs and Cordero was replaced by Jon Rauch, who gave the two-run single to Torrealba that pulled the Rockies within 5-4.
"I tried to get ahead in the count with the first two guys and they made me pay for it," Cordero said. "It wasn't my night."
Torrealba dropped the single in front of center fielder Nook Logan and pumped his chest.
"I broke my bat, but I tied the score," Torrealba said.
Brad Hawpe scored, and the Rockies ran onto the field and celebrated with Matsui.
"I made contact with the ball and ran as hard as I could," Matsui said through an interpreter. "Once I hit the ball, my only thought was beating the throw."
Colorado matched its largest deficit overcome for a victory in the ninth inning or later. The Rockies came back from a 7-3 deficit to win 8-7 over Tampa Bay on June 21, 2002.
Brian Fuentes (1-5) pitched a perfect ninth for the win.
"This was a game where everyone contributed in the ninth and we used power, patience and speed to come back and win," Hurdle said. "We also got a solid outing from Fuentes."
The loss ruined another stellar performance by Shawn Hill, who scattered four hits over seven innings, striking out five and not allowing a walk. In 11 starts this season, Hill has allowed more than two runs only once, and has never allowed more than three.
When asked if this was the most disheartening loss of the season for the Nationals, manager Manny Acta didn't hesitate.
"Yes. We blew a four-run lead in the ninth," Acta said. "Blowing those kinds of leads are hard to take."
Zimmerman was 3-for-4 with two singles and his 20th home run of the year. Pena's home run was his third in seven games since joining the Nationals in a trade from the Boston Red Sox.
Jeff Francis gave up four runs -- three earned -- and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Dmitri Young gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead with a one-out single to center in the first inning. Colorado tied it at 1 on Troy Tulowitzki's RBI single in the first.
Zimmerman homered over the scoreboard in right field with one out in the third inning to give Washington a 2-1 lead.
Pena homered off Taylor Buchholz with one out in the eighth.
- In the midst of a 4-for-36 skids, INF Felipe Lopez was out of the starting lineup.
- Nationals RHP Jason Simontacchi (right elbow tendinitis) has soreness in his right elbow and will see Dr. James Andrews.
- Rockies RHP Aaron Cook (strained left oblique muscle) will throw a bullpen session on Sunday.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the game matched two Canadian born pitchers for the first time since Ryan Dempster of Florida matched up against Mike Johnson of Montreal on July 1, 2000.
- Holliday extended his hitting streak to 14 games.