The Sports Xchange

By David Driver, The Sports Xchange

Ramos double gives Nationals walkoff win over Pirates

WASHINGTON -- Washington appears on the way to another magical season, and the Nationals keep finding different ways to win games late.

They found another avenue here Saturday night as catcher Wilson Ramos hit a ground-rule double with no outs in the last of the ninth into the Washington bullpen in right to score Bryce Harper and give the Nationals a 4-3 comeback win over the Pittsburgh Pirates before a sellout crowd of 41,880 fans.

"He threw me the perfect pitch to hit the other way," Ramos said of Pittsburgh reliever Justin Wilson. "I hit it good."

The bullpen was a sweet spot for the Nationals, as that is where a home run off the bat of first baseman Adam LaRoche landed in the eighth to tie the game at 3.

"He has really been concentrating in batting practice," Washington manager Matt Williams said of LaRoche, who has been on fire this month.

It was the fifth walk-off win for the Nationals this season and the second in three games at Nationals Park. Harper, who played right field on Saturday, hit a walk-off homer to beat the New York Mets in 13 innings here on Aug. 7.

"We were not sharp at the end," said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle.

It was the fifth win in a row for the first-place Nationals (68-53), who began the day six games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. The Nationals are a season-high 15 games over .500.

Washington scored three runs in the eighth against reliever Tony Watson, whose ERA is still impressive at 1.84.

"The ball was not located as well as he has many times this season," Hurdle said of Watson. "He threw one into a dangerous hitter" with the homer to LaRoche.

The hit scored Harper, who led off the ninth with a walk and took second on a wild pitch by Wilson.

The winning pitcher was Matt Thornton (1-0), and Wilson (3-3) was tagged with the loss.

Washington scored three runs in the eighth.

Washington left fielder Kevin Frandsen had his third hit of the game, a flair single to right, to drive in the first run for the Nationals and make it 3-1. After third baseman Anthony Rendon hit into a double play, LaRoche crushed a two-run homer to tie the score. It was the 18th homer of the year for LaRoche, a former Pittsburgh first baseman.

Pittsburgh starter Jeff Locke, who entered the game with a 3.98 ERA, allowed no runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings and was replaced in the sixth by Jared Hughes, who induced a lineout by shortstop Ian Desmond to end the inning with two runners on base.

"The fastball velocity was very good tonight," Hurdle said of Locke.