WASHINGTON — Ian Desmond strode the plate Sunday afternoon with a .175 average after going 1-for-14 with six strikeouts in the three previous games of the series against the Nationals.
Naturally, Desmond blasted a solo homer to center in the ninth inning off of Sean Doolittle, lifting the Rockies to an improbable 6-5 victory and allowing them to capture the four-game series. Desmond was down 0-2 and then worked the count full before hitting his game-winner. It was the first go-head homer in the top of the ninth of Desmond’s career.
Desmond rescued reliever Adam Ottavino, whose wild pitch allowed Michael Taylor to score from third base and tie the game, 5-5, in the eighth.
Colorado’s additional heroes were DJ LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon — best buddies and former roommates — who kept the Rockies alive in a strange, mistake-filled affair at Nationals Park.
LeMahieu’s solo homer in the eighth inning off Shawn Kelley gave the Rockies a 5-4 lead. LeMahieu has already slugged five homers, a number he didn’t reach last season until Aug. 26. Blackmon, batting third as Nolan Arenado continued to serve his suspension, hit a solo shot off Washington starter Stephen Strasburg in the fourth and ripped a two-run double down the right-field line in the sixth.
The Rockies got an ugly, abbreviated start from left-hander Tyler Anderson, who walked six. All told, Colorado pitchers issued 10 free passes. It’s rare that a team can do that an win a game, but the Rockies managed to get away with it.
Though Anderson gave up only two hits, he walked six and needed 94 pitches to navigate 4 ⅔ innings.
Bryce Harper blasted a solo homer off Anderson in the first, but Anderson managed to dodge major trouble until the fifth, when he walked the bases full and left a two-out mess for reliever Antonio Senzatela. The Nationals quickly scored two runs, taking a 3-1 lead, with Taylor scoring on a passed ball by catcher Chris Iannetta, and Trea Turner coming in to score all the way from second on Iannetta’s subsequent throwing error.
Colorado took a 4-3 lead in the sixth on a pinch-hit single by Michael Tauchman, a walk by LeMahieu, Blackmon’s two-run and an RBI, opposite-field single by Carlos Gonzalez.
The lead didn’t last long. Matt Weiters tied the game on a solo homer off reliever Bryan Shaw, who gave up a double and two walks to load the bases before he was rescued by Jake McGee.