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Must C Clutch: Zimmerman wins it with a grand slam

WASHINGTON -- Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth stood in front of their neighboring lockers in the Nationals' clubhouse in the early Saturday hours, trying to decide who would speak with the awaiting media first.

"Talk to him," Zimmerman said. "He got the hit to start it."

"But he finished it," Werth replied.

It was the type of exchange the Nationals expected when they signed Werth in the offseason to be the star alongside their other star. Werth would start the rallies and Zimmerman would finish them, like he has with walk-off homers more than any other player since he debuted in 2005.

They finally got a glimpse of it in Friday's game, when Zimmerman hit his eighth career walk-off homer to give Washington an 8-4 win over the Phillies.

More specifically, it was a grand slam, but as soon as he turned on Ryan Madson's 3-2 fastball, it didn't matter. He knew the winning run would score whether his hit cleared the left-field fence or crashed into it.

"The pressure's on him, not me. I'm 0-for-whatever against him. I'm supposed to get out," said Zimmerman, who is actually 8-for-22 against the Phillies' closer in his career, but 1-for-7 the past three seasons. "I want to get a hit as much as anyone else, but if you keep that mindset, it puts the pressure on him and keeps you calm."

Zimmerman could not have expected to even step to the plate in the ninth, when he was the eighth man due up, especially after Werth fell behind Madson, 0-2.

Then the predominantly Philadelphia crowd that stuck through a two-hour, 22-minute rain delay to berate Werth throughout the night became more and more quiet as the former Phillies outfielder fouled off five pitches, took three balls and singled on Madson's 11th offering.

"For me to even get up to the plate to have that at-bat in that inning was unbelievable," Zimmerman said. "Jayson had that great at-bat. Jonny [Gomes] had a great at-bat. Ian [Desmond] had a great at-bat."

Gomes singled in Werth to start the ninth-inning scoring, then Desmond drove in Danny Espinosa to tie it at 4 with his second RBI of the night, setting up Zimmerman's two-out slam.

The Nationals' offense was mostly quiet throughout the game -- managing a pair of runs off Kyle Kendrick in the third and fifth innings -- but their bullpen kept them in it. Todd Coffey picked up the win, but left-handers Tom Gorzelanny and Sean Burnett deserved equal credit for keeping the left-handed-heavy Philly lineup in check for four innings.

Gorzelanny last pitched 13 days ago -- the only break longer than the one between Livan Hernandez's ninth and 10th pitches on both sides of the rain delay in the first inning. The lefty was bumped from the rotation thanks to disappointing results and a desire to see what 25-year-old Ross Detwiler could do.

But more than bumped, he was banished.

"Gorzo came to me in Philly [last weekend] ... and he said, 'I'm in the 'pen -- use me,'" said manager Davey Johnson, who leaned on Gorzelanny for three innings.

The former starter took over for Hernandez, the only pitcher Johnson said he would let return after that long of a rain delay, and likely the only one who could throw an estimated 334 pitches in one night and live to laugh about.

Hernandez threw 85 pitches to warm up in the bullpen, then nine before the delay. He made his way to the batting tunnel about four times to throw 30 to 40 pitches during the delay, then 30 more on the mound before the restart.

But he insisted he felt fine, and as he long-tossed in front of the dugout, he reaffirmed that to nervous pitching coach Steve McCatty.

"I've lied to my mother," Hernandez told McCatty, "but I'd never lie to you."

The 36-year-old right-hander got through four innings, allowing four runs that were enough to keep Washington in the game. Then in the ninth, Werth started the comeback, and Zimmerman worked a full count to force Madson away from his changeup.

"It's one of those things where you definitely don't want to walk a guy ... so it's, 'Here it is. If you hit it, you hit it,'" Madson said. "Most times when you challenge a guy like that, he's going to get a hit. And he did that time. I tip my cap to him. He's a great hitter." Comments