|Washington (43-42) «||2||0||1||0||0||2||3||0||x||8||11||0|
WASHINGTON --- The Washington Nationals' attempts to jump-start their season have so far been false starts. Perhaps, on the Fourth of July, the return of Wilson Ramos and an "epiphany" change in the batting order provided the final pieces that can sustain some momentum.
Back after missing 44 games with a strained left hamstring, Ramos hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning Thursday, leading the Nationals to an 8-5 matinee win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
"He's a statement player," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "And definitely somebody who's waiting for his turn in the spotlight."
Ramos put a 1-0 slider from Brandon Kintzler into the left-field stands and received a curtain call. He finished with three hits and a career-high five RBI.
"I'm excited, happy for this day, for me, for my family, for my team," Ramos said. "They were waiting for me for my return, and I'm happy for this day, and hopefully I will help the team to win a lot of games."
The Nationals earned a split of the four-game series and moved back above .500 in their seesaw season. They've already had plenty of emotional wins this year that might have sparked a chase at the first-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East, but each time they've fallen flat within a few days.
Getting desperate to try anything, manager Davey Johnson joked before the game that he was "going crazy" figuring out how to get the bats going and said he was "having a problem" with his Ouija board.
He decided to flip-flop Desmond and Jayson Werth, batting Desmond second and Werth sixth. Asked why, he said: "I don't know. Because I'm supposed to do something. I had an epiphany last night about 9:30 and I called Desi, and I said, 'Desi, I'm changing something.'"
For at least one day, it was managerial genius.
Desmond had three hits, stole two bases and scored two runs and ignited two scoring rallies. Werth had three hits, an RBI and scored twice.
"Yeah, that came out all right," Johnson said after the game. "You know, once in a while I have a great idea."
Ramos and the Nationals quickly bailed out Storen with a two-out rally. Werth singled off Tom Gorzelanny (1-1). Brewers manager Ron Roenicke then brought in Kintzler to face Anthony Rendon in a righty-righty matchup.
The move backfired. Kintzler walked Rendon and gave up the homer to Ramos.
"Just hung a slider," Kintzler said. "What are you going to do? It'll not be the last slider I hang, either. I just didn't make the adjustment quick enough."
Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his 22nd save, but he allowed the tying run to come to the plate with two out. It might have been Carlos Gomez, who had homered earlier in the game, but Gomez had been taken out in the double switch that brought Kintzler into the game.
Roenicke said he made the switch because Gomez's bothersome shoulder had tightened up after a collision with the outfield wall. Gomez said he was fine.
"It surprised me when I got out of the game," Gomez said, "especially after I hit a home run."
It was a star-spangled day in the nation's capital. The game began at 11:06 a.m. and featured a national anthem sang by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a new Freedom Song performed by Neil Diamond.
There would be fireworks on the later on the National Mall, but only after Ramos had lit up Nationals Park. Johnson essentially called the shot while chatting with bench coach Randy Knorr.
"I was talking to Randy, I said, 'He's had a good day, he might as well just hit one out here,'" Johnson said. "And, boom, sure enough he did."
|America's Team? The Nationals get the nation's birthday party started with a red, white and blue celebration. (USATSI)|
|Players of the Game|
Majestic Bryce Harper Nationals Player T-Shirt - Navy Blue Shop Now!
|Norichika Aoki, RF||5||0||2||0||0||1||0||.292|
|Jean Segura, SS||3||2||2||0||1||0||1||.323|
|Carlos Gomez, CF||4||2||2||2||0||1||2||.311|
|Aramis Ramirez, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.277|
|Jonathan Lucroy, C||5||0||1||1||0||1||4||.269|
|Juan Francisco, 3B-1B||4||0||2||1||0||1||0||.240|
|Sean Halton, 1B||2||0||0||0||1||0||2||.250|
|Logan Schafer, LF-CF||4||0||0||0||0||0||2||.209|
|Jeff Bianchi, 2B-LF||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.241|
|Donovan Hand, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.200|
|Yuniesky Betancourt, 3B||2||1||1||1||0||0||0||.206|
|a-struck out for Kintzler in the 9th|
|HR - Carlos Gomez (13, Storen), Yuniesky Betancourt (9, Storen)|
|RBI - Carlos Gomez 2 (39), Jonathan Lucroy (43), Juan Francisco (30), Yuniesky Betancourt (33)|
|2-OUT RBI - Carlos Gomez 2 (15), Jonathan Lucroy (14)|
|SB - Jean Segura 2 (26, 2nd base off Jordan/Ramos), Carlos Gomez (17, 2nd base off Jordan/Ramos)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Bianchi-Segura-Halton, Bianchi-Segura-Halton-Segura-Bianchi-Halton|
|E - Juan Francisco 2 (7, Throwing)|
|Tom Gorzelanny (L,1-1)||1.2||1||1||1||1||0||0||2.43|
|IBB - Desmond by Tom Gorzelanny|
|Pitches-Strikes - Donovan Hand 86-51, Burke Badenhop 12-8, Tom Gorzelanny 20-13, Brandon Kintzler 22-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Donovan Hand 6-3, Burke Badenhop 1-0, Tom Gorzelanny 2-3, Brandon Kintzler 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Donovan Hand 22, Burke Badenhop 4, Tom Gorzelanny 7, Brandon Kintzler 6|
|Denard Span, CF||5||0||0||0||0||0||3||.258|
|Ian Desmond, SS||4||2||3||0||1||1||0||.282|
|Bryce Harper, LF||3||1||0||0||2||2||4||.267|
|Ryan Zimmerman, 3B||3||0||0||1||0||1||3||.276|
|Adam LaRoche, 1B||4||1||2||1||0||0||1||.254|
|Jayson Werth, RF||3||2||3||1||1||0||0||.276|
|Anthony Rendon, 2B||2||1||0||0||1||0||4||.308|
|Wilson Ramos, C||4||1||3||5||0||1||0||.288|
|Taylor Jordan, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.250|
|Chad Tracy, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.141|
|a-hit a sacrifice bunt for Ohlendorf in the 6th|
|b-grounded out for Storen in the 7th|
|HR - Wilson Ramos (3, Kintzler)|
|SF - Ryan Zimmerman (2)|
|SH - Anthony Rendon (1), Stephen Lombardozzi (3)|
|RBI - Ryan Zimmerman (44), Adam LaRoche (38), Jayson Werth (27), Wilson Ramos 5 (11)|
|2-OUT RBI - Adam LaRoche (9), Jayson Werth (8), Wilson Ramos 3 (5)|
|SB - Ian Desmond 2 (10, 2nd base off Hand/Lucroy), Bryce Harper (3, 2nd base off Hand/Lucroy), Jayson Werth (3, 2nd base off Hand/Lucroy)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Outfield Assists - Jayson Werth 1|
|Ross Ohlendorf (H,1)||0.1||0||0||0||1||0||0||2.08|
|Drew Storen (W,3-2; BS,4)||1||3||3||3||0||2||2||5.40|
|Tyler Clippard (H,14)||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||2.27|
|Rafael Soriano (S,22)||1||1||0||0||1||1||0||2.31|
|HBP - Segura (by Taylor Jordan)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Taylor Jordan 85-60, Ross Ohlendorf 8-3, Drew Storen 26-17, Tyler Clippard 19-13, Rafael Soriano 19-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Taylor Jordan 8-5, Drew Storen 1-0, Tyler Clippard 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Taylor Jordan 23, Ross Ohlendorf 2, Drew Storen 6, Tyler Clippard 4, Rafael Soriano 5|
|Attendance - 38221|
|Game Time - 3:35|
|Temperature - 80|
|Umpires - Home - Gerry Davis, First Base - Mark Carlson, Second Base - Brian Knight, Third Base - Dan Iassogna|