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July 4, 2011

Freedom rings: Nats walk off on wild pitch

Werth scores game-winner as Marmol loses control in 10th

By Bill Ladson /

Monday, Jul. 4 7:37 PM

Jayson Werth
WASHINGTON -- Jayson Werth scored the winning run on a wild pitch by right-hander Carlos Marmol in the bottom of the 10th inning to help the Nationals edge the Cubs, 5-4, at Nationals Park on Monday afternoon.

The Nationals are 3-5 under new manager Davey Johnson. It was a game in which Johnson had to use almost every position player available to him except for Wilson Ramos and Michael Morse, who didn't play because of a bruised elbow. Johnson even had to use right-handers Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis as pinch-hitters.

But it all worked out for Johnson and the Nationals in the end. The game was tied at 4 when Washington scored the winning run in the 10th. Marcos Mateo was on the mound when Werth led off with a walk. Hernandez, pinch-hitting for reliever Henry Rodriguez, sacrificed Werth to second.

"I'm down to my last man and I didn't want to use Ramos," Johnson said. "We have a pretty good bunter in the starting rotation in Hernandez. He came up and gave us a blueprint. That was a big part of the ballgame. That's probably a first for me to use a couple of pitchers to go up and pinch-hit."

Mateo then left the game because of an elbow injury and was replaced by Marmol. Ivan Rodriguez came to the plate. On the first pitch that Marmol threw, Werth stole third base. Rodriguez said it was a pitch he could have swung at, but it was clear to him that Werth had the base stolen easily.

"[Marmol] is not very quick to the plate, and Werth picked a pitch and took advantage of it," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "I think he was so focused on the hitter and the situation, which was a little bit unusual for him."

Rodriguez then worked the count to 2-2, when Marmol threw a wild pitch, which allowed Werth to score.

"In that situation, with one out, it was better to be on third than to be on second," Werth said. "They brought in Marmol. It felt right. I got a good jump. I was able to steal third and I scored on a wild pitch. You play the game, you try to make something happen. Luckily, it worked out for us."

For most of the season, it hasn't worked out for Werth since signing a seven-year, $126 million contract this offseason with Washington. He is hitting .224, with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in 82 games.

He started hearing the boos from the Washington crowd on Saturday. On that day, after striking out late in the second game of the doubleheader against the Pirates, Werth tipped his cap acknowledging the crowd. Werth said the next day that he understood why he has received the jeers.

"I don't live in the past. I keep moving forward," Werth said. "Stuff like that rolls off my shoulder. If people feel so inclined, go for it. I love all aspects of the game. [Booing] is definitely one part of it. Being a true baseball player, you have to roll with the punches. Boo me, cheer me, hate me, love me. I'm still going to go out there and try to slay the dragon."

Werth is confident that he will start producing with the bat when it's all said and done.

"I'm not going to judge myself on three short months. I know it's going to be there. ... It's close," Werth said. "It's just a matter of time. I always play my best ball in the biggest game. That's no excuse. Every game is a big game. It's not for a lack of effort. There are two things in this world that I believe you can control: That is your intent and your effort. I believe my intent is good and my effort [is good]."

The Nationals had a 2-1 lead when the wheels started to fall off in the fourth inning. The Cubs had runners on first and third with two outs before Alfonso Soriano hit a routine fly ball between center fielder Roger Bernadina and Werth in right field. The ball ended up dropping for a two-run single to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead. TV cameras showed starter Jordan Zimmermann putting his hands up in frustration.

"The center fielder is that take-charge guy, and Bernie got bad jumps all day for some reason," Johnson said. "Jayson said he could have caught it, too. Those things can't happen on good ballclubs. I'm sure it won't happen again."

Bernadina said he lost the ball in white shirts behind home plate.

"We lost it in the seats. We didn't see it," he said.

The Cubs added another run in the sixth, when Aramis Ramirez scored on a single by Geovany Soto. Zimmermann lasted six innings and allowed four runs on eight hits.

But he ended up with a no-decision as the Nationals rallied. In the seventh, with Kerry Wood on the mound, Ian Desmond scored on a bases-loaded walk by Laynce Nix to make it a 4-3 game.

In the sixth inning, Nix tripled and scored on a groundout by Werth.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time . He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats .