|Chi. White Sox (4-5)||0||1||0||2||0||1||0||0||0||4||13||1|
|Washington (7-2) «||1||0||2||3||0||0||0||1||x||7||10||0|
|More on White Sox-Nationals|
|More MLB coverage|
Ventura chose to have right-hander Dylan Axelrod intentionally walk the lefty-swinging Harper. That brought up the right-handed Zimmerman, who delivered a two-run double, breaking the game open and helping the Nationals beat the White Sox 7-4 for a three-game sweep.
"You're rolling the dice either way," Ventura said. "You just take your chance."
Nationals manager Davey Johnson raised an eyebrow and grinned when asked what he thought about that sequence.
"I'm glad," Johnson said, "I don't have to make those decisions."
Zimmerman's modest take?
"I wouldn't pitch a righty against Bryce right now, either," he said.
Ventura's basic, two-word explanation: "Harper's hot."
That's certainly true, and Harper himself wasn't surprised about the walk there, saying, "First base open. Hitting righties pretty good."
Actually, it doesn't seem to matter who's on the mound at the moment.
The reigning NL Rookie of the Year is hitting .417 with four homers, eight RBIs and a .778 slugging percentage. His run-scoring single in the eighth gave the 20-year-old Harper at least two hits in seven of Washington's nine games so far.
"Obviously, they're showing a lot of respect for Bryce, 10 days into the season," Nationals starter Dan Haren (1-0) said after getting the win despite allowing 10 hits in five innings. "I mean, he's special. Our lineup's really good, though. There's no soft spots."
With the score tied at 3 in the fourth, Haren helped himself by doubling off Axelrod (0-1) and eventually scoring on a wild pitch with two outs. Chicago then put Harper on base on purpose, but the move didn't work: Cleanup hitter Zimmerman lined a double to right on Axelrod's 103rd -- and final -- pitch of the evening.
"I just didn't want to give in. We got to 3-2 and I went with the changeup. I hadn't thrown a changeup to a right-hander all game," Axelrod said, "and it seemed like a good idea at the time."
"Well, I was tempted to go another route," Johnson acknowledged afterward about using Soriano again, "but he hadn't cried 'Uncle' for me yet."
Washington, 6-0 at home and 7-2 overall, opens a three-game set Friday against visiting NL East rival Atlanta. The Braves are on a six-game winning streak and own a major league-best 8-1 record. It's their best start since opening 13-1 in 1994.
Swirling wind carried napkins and other debris from the stands onto the grass, pushed batted balls away from the fences, and turned some otherwise routine plays into adventures for fielders. Following a couple of days in the 80s, the temperature dipped into the 50s.
And after hitting 11 homers in their previous four games, the Nationals turned to some small ball.
In the first inning, Jayson Werth singled to cap a 10-pitch at-bat, stole second and moved to third when catcher Tyler Flowers' errant throw went into the outfield. Adam LaRoche made it 1-0 with a single on Axelrod's 33rd pitch. He would need 40 just to get the first three outs.
Chicago pulled even in the fourth. With a man on, Axelrod popped up a bunt that first baseman LaRoche couldn't quite reach, and the ball bounced by for an infield single. Alejandro De Aza and Jeff Keppinger hit RBI singles - ending Chicago's 0-for-10 stretch with runners in scoring position over two games.
Haren threw 101 pitches and allowed three runs. Shaky, but far more effective than his Nationals debut after signing a $13 million, one-year contract as a free agent. In that game, he allowed four homers in four innings of a 15-0 loss at Cincinnati, the Nationals' biggest defeat since they brought baseball back to Washington in 2005.
"I've kind of shown flashes of how I can be," Haren said, "but haven't really put it all together yet."
|Ryan Zimmerman connects for a two-run double as the Nationals finish off a three-game sweep. (USATSI)|
|Players of the Game|
New Era Chicago White Sox Fitted Hat
$34.95 Shop Now!
|Chicago White Sox|
|Alejandro De Aza, CF||5||1||2||1||0||1||0||.270|
|Jesse Crain, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jeff Keppinger, 2B||5||0||2||1||0||0||1||.171|
|Alex Rios, RF||4||0||2||0||1||1||0||.429|
|Adam Dunn, LF||5||0||1||1||0||1||5||.182|
|Paul Konerko, 1B||4||1||2||0||0||1||2||.200|
|Alexei Ramirez, SS||5||0||1||0||0||2||5||.294|
|Conor Gillaspie, 3B||4||1||2||0||0||1||1||.438|
|Tyler Flowers, C||4||0||0||1||0||1||2||.192|
|Dylan Axelrod, P||2||1||1||0||0||1||1||.500|
|Hector Santiago, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Matt Lindstrom, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Dewayne Wise, PH-CF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.250|
|a-lined out for Lindstrom in the 8th|
|2B - Alex Rios 2 (3, Haren, Haren), Adam Dunn (1, Mattheus), Alexei Ramirez (3, Haren), Conor Gillaspie (1, Haren)|
|RBI - Alejandro De Aza (5), Jeff Keppinger (1), Adam Dunn (5), Tyler Flowers (3)|
|2-OUT RBI - Adam Dunn (3)|
|SB - Alejandro De Aza (1, 2nd base off Mattheus/Ramos)|
|Team LOB - 11|
|Outfield Assists - Alex Rios 1|
|DP - Keppinger-A. Ramirez-Konerko|
|E - Tyler Flowers (1, Throwing)|
|Chicago White Sox|
|Dylan Axelrod (L,0-1)||3.2||7||6||6||4||2||0||5.79|
|IBB - Harper by Dylan Axelrod|
|HBP - Werth (by Jesse Crain)|
|WP - Dylan Axelrod (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Dylan Axelrod 102-59, Hector Santiago 32-17, Matt Lindstrom 7-6, Jesse Crain 18-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dylan Axelrod 3-6, Hector Santiago 3-2, Matt Lindstrom 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Dylan Axelrod 22, Hector Santiago 9, Matt Lindstrom 3, Jesse Crain 5|
|Denard Span, CF||4||2||2||0||1||1||1||.323|
|Jayson Werth, RF||4||2||2||0||0||1||2||.297|
|Bryce Harper, LF||3||2||2||2||2||0||1||.417|
|Ryan Zimmerman, 3B||2||0||1||2||2||0||2||.241|
|Adam LaRoche, 1B||3||0||1||1||1||2||1||.167|
|Ian Desmond, SS||3||0||1||1||0||0||2||.294|
|Danny Espinosa, 2B||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||.182|
|Ryan Mattheus, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Chad Tracy, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.091|
|Tyler Clippard, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Rafael Soriano, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Wilson Ramos, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||.353|
|Dan Haren, P||2||1||1||0||0||0||0||.333|
|Stephen Lombardozzi, 2B||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.250|
|a-grounded into a double play for Mattheus in the 7th|
|2B - Ryan Zimmerman (2, Axelrod), Dan Haren (1, Axelrod)|
|SF - Ian Desmond (1)|
|RBI - Bryce Harper 2 (8), Ryan Zimmerman 2 (7), Adam LaRoche (4), Ian Desmond (3)|
|2-OUT RBI - Bryce Harper (2), Ryan Zimmerman 2 (2), Adam LaRoche (1)|
|SB - Denard Span (1, 2nd base off Axelrod/Flowers), Jayson Werth (1, 3rd base off Axelrod/Flowers)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Dan Haren (W,1-1)||5||10||3||3||0||5||0||9.00|
|Ryan Mattheus (H,2)||2||2||1||1||1||3||0||3.18|
|Tyler Clippard (H,2)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||5.40|
|Rafael Soriano (S,5)||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||6.00|
|HBP - Konerko (by Dan Haren)|
|WP - Dan Haren (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Dan Haren 96-61, Ryan Mattheus 38-22, Tyler Clippard 11-7, Rafael Soriano 24-17|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dan Haren 4-6, Tyler Clippard 1-2, Rafael Soriano 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Dan Haren 26, Ryan Mattheus 9, Tyler Clippard 3, Rafael Soriano 4|
|Attendance - 24785|
|Game Time - 3:18|
|Temperature - 78|
|Umpires - Home - Tom Hallion, First Base - Ron Kulpa, Second Base - Phil Cuzzi, Third Base - Chris Guccione|