WASHINGTON -- Ryan Zimmerman is used to being a late-inning hero. Tom Milone hopes he gets used to it, too.
Zimmerman's broken-bat fly ball with one out in the ninth dropped into right field for a single, driving in two runs and giving the Washington Nationals a wild 8-7 victory over the New York Mets on Saturday night.
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"That was pretty lucky," Zimmerman admitted. "It's amazing that I always seem to find myself in that position."With the Nationals trailing 7-6 in the ninth, Jesus Flores sent a leadoff single into left field for his third hit of the game. Brian Bixler then came in to run, and Bobby Parnell (3-5) walked Jonny Gomes to put runners on first and second. Bixler and Gomes advanced on Ian Desmond's sacrifice before Roger Bernadina was walked intentionally.Mets manager Terry Collins defended the decision to walk Bernadina to get to Zimmerman."I didn't want to, but I know that we've got to try to get a double play," Collins said. "We're going to end up facing Zimmerman anyway. So we might as well just put him on -- and he broke his bat in half, so it wasn't that bad a pitch."Duda's seventh-inning sacrifice fly gave the Mets a 7-6 lead.Sean Burnett (5-5), Washington's fifth pitcher, got the final three outs.Washington had lost nine of 10, and New York had won seven of eight.The Mets were headed for an impressive comeback win before Washington's rally in the ninth.Milone, who made his major league debut after the left-hander's contract was purchased from Triple-A Syracuse, was the center of attention for much of the night, hitting a three-run home run on the first pitch of his first big-league at-bat.With runners on second and third and one out in the second inning, Washington third base coach Bo Porter beckoned Milone over for a chat. With the Mets' infield in expecting a bunt, Milone swung away and hit the first pitch from Dillon Gee into the Nationals bullpen.Excited new teammates in the bullpen jumped up and down as the ball sailed over their heads behind the right-field fence. The stunning shot gave the Nationals a 5-0 lead.According to STATS LLC and the SABR Home Run Log, Milone became the eighth pitcher to homer on the first pitch he saw in the majors. The last to do it was Adam Wainwright for St. Louis on May 24, 2006."When I was going down the first base line, it was like I was dreaming -- almost like it didn't come off the bat. It felt that good," Milone said.Unfortunately for Milone, he didn't make it out of the fifth inning. Although his home run capped a four-run second, the lead didn't last long.Ronny Paulino singled with one out in the third for New York's first baserunner, and the Mets scored four times in the fourth. Angel Pagan hit a two-run single and scored on Nick Evans' fourth homer, a drive to left on a 2-2 pitch for his second shot in two nights.With one out in the fifth, Milone was replaced by Tom Gorzelanny."I didn't want to take a chance on him losing," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He used up a lot of energy."Bernadina, who was recalled from Syracuse on Friday, hit his sixth home run in the fifth to give Washington a 6-4 lead.The Mets responded in the sixth, getting a tying two-run shot from Jason Bay. It was Bay's 10th homer of the season. It snapped an 0-for-35 skid on the road -- a team record for a position player.Desmond led off the first with a drive to left for his sixth homer.
Exactly one year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, RHP Stephen Strasburg threw in the bullpen and felt strong. He'll start for the Nationals on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. "It seems like it's been a year," Strasburg said. "I didn't know how long it was going to feel like. I thought it was going to take forever the first five months I wasn't throwing. Then when I started to throw off the mound and facing hitters, it started to speed up." ... RHP Livan Hernandez (8-12) is scheduled to make his final start of the season on Sunday for Washington. Johnson discussed the move with the 36-year-old, who started the first home game for the Nationals. "I said to him: 'If we were fighting for a pennant, we wouldn't have to look at younger guys.' We're way down at the bottom, and we need to see some guys who are knocking at the door," Johnson said. "We don't know what their future is in this organization, and we need to give them some seasoning. We don't need to know what you can do because we know." Hernandez will oppose RHP Mike Pelfrey (7-11). Pelfrey is 0-3 with a 4.74 ERA in four starts at Nationals Park. ... Mets LHP Johan Santana pitched two innings for Class-A St. Lucie in his first rehab assignment since July 28. He allowed a run and three hits. ... Nationals C Ivan Rodriguez was activated from the disabled list after missing nearly two months with a strained oblique muscle.