DENVER -- No matter how many puddles formed and no matter how sloppy the field became, Ryan Zimmerman didn't want the umpires to wash this game out.
Not with the kind of offensive numbers he was putting up.
Peering through a steady drizzle at the plate, Zimmerman hit two home runs and drove in a career-high six runs to lead the Washington Nationals to a 14-6 victory against the Colorado Rockies in a game called after eight innings Thursday night due to the conditions.
"It's tough, because you can't get a good grip on the bat and the drips are always coming off the helmet," Zimmerman said.
But the worse the weather got, the better the Nationals seemed to hit. Washington broke open a one-run game in the eighth by scoring seven times, the big blow a three-run double from pinch hitter Cristian Guzman.
"It seems like the last week we've played in this [weather] every single night," said Zimmerman, whose team set a season high in runs. "I guess we're getting used to it."
As soon as Nationals reliever Brian Bruney completed a perfect eighth, the umpires called for the tarp.
After a 40-minute delay, the game was finally called, giving the surging Nationals their fifth victory in six games.
Zimmerman had quite the night despite the rain, hitting a towering two-run homer to left in the first inning and a three-run shot to left-center in the fifth.
Had the game been canceled after his second blast, his sixth career multihomer game could've been nothing more than a footnote, a nice but fleeting memory.
However, the game went on, even with the rain coming down harder.
Both of Zimmerman's home runs came on sliders from Jhoulys Chacin (2-1), who entered the contest with a streak of 15 1/3 scoreless innings.
Zimmerman quickly halted that three batters in.
The game was initially delayed 37 minutes as a storm was predicted to pass through the area. Only when the tarps were taken off, though, did the rain really start to pick up intensity.
With temperatures hovering around 47 degrees, steady drops began to fall at game time, turning heavier throughout the middle innings.
The grounds crew kept rolling out a wheelbarrow and dumping diamond dust by the shovelful on the pitcher's mound, in the batter's box and along the base paths to help with traction.
It did the trick -- to a certain extent. Players still eased their way around the bases, careful not to lose their footing.
Not that Miguel Olivo needed to worry about slipping after hitting a home run to left, a two-run shot in the seventh, that made it 7-6.
Olivo slowly made his way around the bases, avoiding the slick spots and water hazards. He hit a game-winning home run in the 10th to beat Philadelphia the day before.
But Washington ended any thoughts of a Colorado comeback with an eighth-inning eruption. The seven runs in the frame ties a Nationals record, set numerous times, the last on July 27 at Milwaukee.
Doug Slaten (1-0) got two outs in the seventh to earn the victory.
"Both clubs played well in some very tough conditions," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "The conditions got real nasty there."
Rockies skipper Jim Tracy couldn't agree more.
"Those conditions deteriorated to the point where there was the better part of about 2½ innings where you couldn't really consider it baseball," Tracy said. "The field looked like a pond."
Chacin had a rocky outing, giving up six runs and six hits in five innings. He came into the game with a 0.00 ERA and left with it rising to 2.66.
"A young kid who's been brilliant the first two times didn't have a very good start," Tracy said. "But young kids that become very good pitchers bounce back from things like that, so that's the interesting sequel that we'll wait to see here in about five days."
|Ryan Zimmerman somehow sees well enough through the rain to connect for one of his two home runs. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Nyjer Morgan , CF||5||1||2||1||0||1||1||.263|
|Adam Kennedy , 1B||4||3||2||0||1||1||0||.258|
|Ryan Zimmerman , 3B||5||3||3||6||0||2||0||.319|
|Adam Dunn , 1B||4||0||1||0||0||1||0||.256|
|a-Willy Taveras , PH-LF||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.206|
|Josh Willingham , LF||5||1||3||2||0||0||0||.273|
|Ivan Rodriguez , C||4||1||0||0||0||1||3||.367|
|Roger Bernadina , RF||2||1||1||0||2||0||0||.275|
|Ian Desmond , SS||3||2||2||2||0||0||1||.262|
|John Lannan , SP||2||0||0||0||0||0||2||.000|
|Miguel Batista , SP||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|Willie Harris , PH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.182|
|b-Cristian Guzman , PH-2B||1||1||1||3||0||0||0||.315|
|a-Singled for A Dunn in the 8th.|
|b-Doubled for W Harris in the 8th.|
|2B - A Dunn (10); J Willingham (5); I Desmond (6); C Guzman (7)|
|HR - R Zimmerman 2 (8)|
|RBI - N Morgan (8); R Zimmerman 6 (22); J Willingham 2 (22); I Desmond 2 (17); C Guzman 3 (12)|
|SF - I Desmond (1)|
|S - I Rodriguez (1)|
|CS - N Morgan (7)|
|Doug Slaten (W,1-0)||0.2||1||0||0||0||1||0||3.00|
|Carlos Gonzalez , LF||5||1||1||1||0||1||1||.325|
|Dexter Fowler , CF||3||0||0||0||2||0||1||.237|
|Brad Hawpe , RF||5||0||0||0||0||2||3||.327|
|Troy Tulowitzki , SS||4||1||2||1||0||0||0||.317|
|Todd Helton , 1B||2||2||1||0||2||0||0||.257|
|Miguel Olivo , C||3||1||2||3||1||1||2||.287|
|Ian Stewart , 3B||4||0||2||1||0||1||2||.294|
|Clint Barmes , 2B||4||0||1||0||0||0||6||.222|
|Jhoulys Chacin , RP||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-Ryan Spilborghs , PH-LF||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||.235|
|Esmil Rogers , SP||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.200|
|b-Melvin Mora , PH-3B||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.268|
|a-Walked for J Chacin in the 5th.|
|b-Fouled out for E Rogers in the 7th.|
|2B - T Tulowitzki (12)|
|3B - C Gonzalez (3)|
|HR - M Olivo (7)|
|RBI - C Gonzalez (26); T Tulowitzki (15); M Olivo 3 (17); I Stewart (18)|
|Jhoulys Chacin (L,2-1)||5.0||6||6||6||1||3||2||2.66|
|Attendance - 20795|
|Game Time - 3:15|
|Temperature - 47|
|Umpires - Home - Gary Cederstrom, First Base - Ed Hickox, Second Base - Field Culbreth, Third Base - Marty Foster|