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The Washington Nationals completed the sweep of the Boston Red Sox on Sunday afternoon in Boston. The Nationals edged out a 4-3 victory as Bryce Harper scored the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, after starting the game on the bench.
The Nationals came out of the gates swinging as lead-off hitter Danny Espinosa doubled off the wall in left-center field. A fly ball from Xavier Nady advanced Espinosa to third. Espinosa then scored on a groundout to third baseman Will Middlebrooks, putting the Nationals on top early 1-0.
The Red Sox fought back in the bottom of the third inning, when Nick Punto scored on a fielders choice hit by Dustin Pedroia. The Red Sox offense continued to battle against Nationals’ starter Jordan Zimmermann when David Ortiz hit his 14th home run of the year to right field. The blast from Ortiz put the Red Sox on top 2-1.
Jon Lester did his best to match the efforts of Zimmermann, which resulted in a well-pitched game from both sides. However, the Nationals were able to get to Lester in the seventh inning. After two base hits from Ian Desmond and Tyler Moore, the two baserunners executed a double steal on a Jesus Flores strikeout. Danny Espinosa drove his second double of the game to center field scoring Desmond and Moore, and giving the Nationals the 3-2 lead.
The back-and-forth battled continued in the bottom of the seventh inning when Ryan Sweeney and Nick Punto both tallied base hits. Darnell McDonald laid down a sacrifice bunt putting the runners into scoring position. Scott Podsednik grounded out to the shortstop, Desmond, which allowed Sweeney to score the tying run.
The top of the ninth inning had few fireworks of its own, as Bryce Harper was substituted into the lineup to pinch hit. He walked, but proved to be the difference in the game. Alfredo Aceves believed he had struck out Roger Bernadina, but the umpire disagreed. Bernadina then doubled to right field, and Harper scored the go-ahead run all the way from first base. Tyler Clippard came out in the ninth for the Nationals and struck out the side to end the game.
Bobby Valentine was ejected for arguing a strike call. After the game he said he “thought they (Nationals) were pitching well, and I thought they were getting pitches… Pitches that shouldn’t have been strikes.” Valentine went as far to say “there should be a review,” in regards to the umpiring of the entire weekend series. Home plate umpire Porter Callahan appeared to be giving strike calls that looked to be a bit off the outside corner.
Jon Lester received a no decision in the game after having a strong outing. Lester went seven innings allowing six hits, three earned runs, walking two, and striking out nine on 107 pitches. Lester hasn’t had a season to write home about, but he showed good command of his pitches in today’s game against the Nationals. He was able to over match his opponent for most of the game, but couldn’t hold them off in the seventh inning, which proved costly.
Tags: Alfredo Aceves, Bryce Harper, Darnell McDonald, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Desmond, Jon Lester, Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals, Nick Punto, Red Sox, Ryan Sweeney, Scott Podsednik, Tyler Clippard, Tyler Moore, Will Middlebrooks, Xavier Nady