WASHINGTON (AP) -- All of 21, a big league rookie, Ryan Zimmerman
quickly developed a reputation for being calm as can be, never
allowing anything to rattle him.
Jammed by a fastball from Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang in the
seventh inning Sunday, Zimmerman had one thought as he stepped to
the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth, his Washington Nationals down by a run: Let's hope he tries throwing that same
pitch, because I'm ready for it.
Sure enough, with Yankees closer Mariano Rivera forced into a
day off, Zimmerman drove Wang's 107th pitch of the day over the
wall in left for a game-winning, two-run homer. Having lifted
Washington to a 3-2 victory over New York, his Dad in the stands on
Father's Day, Zimmerman morphed into a kid on a sandlot, raising a
fist as he rounded first, then tossing off his batting helmet as he
Zimmerman jumped into the bouncing crowd of teammates waiting at
home plate, celebrating a second consecutive comeback win over the
Yankees. He said he'd never done that before, at any level: "No
walk-off nothing -- single, anything."
"I looked pretty bad the at-bat before on that same pitch,"
the third baseman said. "I figured I was going to look for that
same pitch first pitch, and if he threw it, try and do some damage
After getting mobbed -- "I made sure I touched home plate," he
said -- Zimmerman went to the dugout as the largest home crowd in
Nationals history, 45,157, kept cheering. Prodded by a few
teammates, Zimmerman eventually stepped out of the dugout for a
curtain call and tossed his batting gloves into the stands.
"I was glad to see him show some feelings there," manager
Frank Robinson said of the stoic Zimmerman, the No. 4 overall pick
in last year's amateur draft.
Zimmerman's 10th homer of the season followed pinch-hitter
Marlon Anderson's single off Wang (7-3), trying to throw his first
career complete game on a day when the temperature was 89 at the
"When the ball came out of my hand," Wang said of his final
pitch, "I felt bad."
Yankees manager Joe Torre left his starter in because his
beleaguered bullpen worked 12 innings over the preceding three
days. Torre said before the game that Rivera wasn't available after
pitching in the series' first two games. On Saturday, Rivera took
the loss, charged with Washington's final two runs as the Nationals
came back from a seven-run deficit.
"I never would second-guess Joe Torre. If it's up to me, I'd be
pitching every day," said Rivera, who appeared three days in a row
once this season, May 10-12. "That's why he's the manager, and I'm
just a player."
Said Zimmerman: "Even he has to rest a little bit, too,
Even with their success against him the day before, the
Nationals were thrilled that Rivera wasn't on the mound.
"It was great when we didn't see Rivera out there in the
ninth," Jose Vidro said. "I said, 'Oh, man. We've got a very good
chance now, because the guy was starting to leave pitches up in the
Vidro nearly got to Wang in the eighth after two Nationals
reached via walks. But Vidro's hard liner was caught on the run by
left fielder Melky Cabrera.
Rodriguez has been slumping and rejoiced after his hit by
pounding his hands together in exaggerated applause while standing
at second. He drove the first pitch he saw from Majewski, a 93 mph
offering, to left, and Cabrera slid in ahead of the tag on the
"I'm taking baby steps right now," Rodriguez said. "It's not
going to come overnight, but I'm feeling better."
Cabrera was walked leading off the eighth. Majewski then struck
out Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi -- both swinging at 94 mph
fastballs -- before Rodriguez came through. But Majewski got through
the ninth without trouble, then settled into the clubhouse to watch
the end of the game on TV.
When Zimmerman's homer cleared the fence, Majewski ran back out
to join in the fun.
After a five-game losing streak, including a four-game sweep
against Colorado, had them down, the Nationals were feeling pretty
good as they set out on a nine-game road trip starting Monday at
the Red Sox.
"To go out on the road after two wins like we accomplished the
last two ballgames, especially the way we won 'em, I don't know if
we need the plane today to go to Boston," Robinson said. "We
could fly over there without a jet."
The sellout crowd was the highest single-game attendance
for a baseball game in the history of RFK Stadium (a 1962
doubleheader drew more spectators). ... Jeter stole third in the
first inning when the Nationals had no one near the bag because of
an extreme infield shift with Giambi at the plate. ... Yankees 2B
Robinson Cano went 0-for-4, ending his career-best hitting streak
at 15 games.