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NYM@WSH: Ankiel scores to give Nats walk-off win

WASHINGTON -- Drew Storen toed the rubber as Scott Hairston stepped into the batter's box with two out in the ninth, and bullpen coach Jim Lett collected a bag of balls beyond the right-field fence, as the bullpen's day would be done after one more out.

Storen emerged from the door in the right-field corner 17 minutes after the 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline passed -- he, too, watched the clock the entire time -- still the Nationals' closer, with 26 saves.

But then Hairston sent a 95-mph sinker over the left-field fence, tying the game and ensuring Storen would wait another day to pick up save No. 27. Now it's clear he will have many more opportunities, though, and he took a win as Washington walked off, 3-2, over the Mets in front of 25,307 fans at Nationals Park.

"We're glad we still have Mr. Storen," manager Davey Johnson said of the player every team general manager Mike Rizzo spoke with asked about. "It's unfortunate he gave up that bomb today, but he's an important part of this ballclub."

The Nationals believe Ian Desmond is, as well, and the shortstop drove in the winning run with a chopper just over reliever Bobby Parnell's head. Rick Ankiel ran on contact from third base, keeping an eye on the ball as it fell in front of second baseman Willie Harris, with the Mets' infield in.

"It was just in no-man's land," Parnell said.

Harris' throw home was not in time as Ankiel dove headfirst into home plate, and more importantly for the Nationals, past the rumor-filled Deadline in D.C. with a win.

"Some of the young guys have never been through [the Trade Deadline], and they're worrying about maybe going to a new team, not knowing anybody," said Ankiel, who was hit by a pitch to reach base. "I think it can be a stressful time."

Storen called it the "weirdest day of my career" and tried to shut it out, but after an ovation as he exited the bullpen, he could not close it out for starter Jordan Zimmermann.

The right-hander recovered from two uncharacteristically poor post-All-Star Game starts. Those came on nine and seven days' rest, respectively, but Johnson repeatedly said he wants Zimmermann on a regular schedule, and with good reason.

The right-hander's ERA is 1.85 when pitching on regular rest, compared to a 3.22 mark after five days and 6.00 when pitching after six or more, including the 12 earned runs he allowed in 11 2/3 innings since the break.

"He had too much rest. He was too strong, rushing, getting out in front," Johnson said. "Today he was much better -- 10 times better -- and it showed."

Zimmermann ran into trouble in only the sixth, but with Sean Burnett warming in the bullpen, he escaped it. A pair of singles and a shift of his shoulder for a balk put runners on second and third with one out and a 2-2 count to Angel Pagan. The next six pitches showed exactly why Washington is protecting the 25-year-old's surgically repaired right arm with a 160-innings limit that will likely arrive after four more starts.

A 95-mph fastball fouled back and a backdoor slider froze Pagan before he made his way back to the third-base dugout with two away. Then Zimmermann struck out Jason Bay on four pitches, finishing him with a high fastball and a fist pump as he left the mound.

"I knew I was over 100 pitches and it would be my last inning and my last batter," Zimmermann said. "I just wanted to make a good, quality pitch and he swung and missed."

The lineup responded for its starting pitcher, coming to life after stranding a runner on base in four of the first five innings. Desmond sent his double off the left-field wall. Ryan Zimmerman followed with one into the right-center-field gap. And Michael Morse drove him in with one that snuck inside the first-base line.

A pair of Hairston home runs tied it, but the lineup again responded for Storen, who everyone from Rizzo on down was happy to see stay in Washington.

"That was a big win for us," Storen said. "And I'll be really happy to show up at the ballpark tomorrow." Comments