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WSH@CIN: Nats fall on walk-off homer in 14th inning

CINCINNATI -- Joey Votto's home run in the 14th inning Sunday gave the Reds a 5-4 victory over the Nationals at Great American Ball Park and a sweep of the three-game series.

With no outs and reliever Collin Balester on the mound, Votto swung at a 3-2 pitch, which was on the outside part of the plate, and hit the ball over the left-field wall. It was Votto's second home run of the game and Balester's second loss in the series.

"I knew he had good [opposite-field] power," Balester said. "He reached out and he put it over the fence. The game ended like that."

It was a game that lasted 5 hours and 15 minutes, which set a Nationals record. The offense continues to be a problem for Washington, which went 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position while striking out 19 times.

"That was quite a day. I've been through some crazy ones. We had our opportunities. It one of those tough days," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.

There was also three ejections in the game. Johnson, bench coach Pat Corrales and Reds skipper Dusty Baker were all tossed from the game.

Johnson was ejected in the seventh inning. He thought Michael Morse was hit by a pitch. He spoke to home-plate umpire Sam Holbrook, who then had a meeting with the umpiring crew. They all agreed that Morse was not hit. Johnson argued, while third-base umpire Joe West threw Johnson out of the game.

Johnson said he did not use profanity to get tossed.

"Mr. West thought to get rid of me," Johnson said. "That's part of the game, I guess."

Corrales then took over as manager and was also ejected by Holbrook in the ninth inning for arguing balls and strikes. Corrales said he simply told the umpire a certain pitch was high.

"I didn't swear it at him or anything," Corrales said.

Baker acknowledged that he cussed at the umpire. In the 12th inning, Drew Stubbs was caught trying to steal second base, but the replay showed that shortstop Ian Desmond did not make the tag on Stubbs.

"I said the magic word today, a couple of them," Baker said.

Lost in the contest was that right-hander Jordan Zimmermann pitched his last game of the 2011 season.

Starting in Spring Training, the Nationals announced that Zimmermann was going to be capped at 160 innings this year. The club was being cautious, as Zimmermann was coming off Tommy John surgery. Zimmermann took advantage of the situation, becoming the ace of the staff. He pitched in 26 games and went 8-11 with a 3.18 ERA.

"I thought I threw the ball pretty well this year," Zimmermann said. "I made a few mistakes in games. Next year, I'm going to try to correct it and just try to make better pitches. Toward the end, I thought my focus was there, but I made a few bad pitches toward the end of some games and it cost us."

On Sunday, Zimmermann lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits.

Washington was able to give the right-hander a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. With runners on first and third and two outs, Danny Espinosa singled up the middle, scoring Rick Ankiel, but Michael Morse was thrown out trying to go from first and third on the hit.

Zimmermann, however, would get hurt by the long ball. In the bottom of the first, Votto swung at a 0-1 pitch and hit the ball over the right-field wall for a home run.

Three innings later, Jay Bruce hit a solo homer to give Cincinnati a 2-1 lead. But Washington would tie the score in the top of the fifth inning, when Ankiel singled up the middle, scoring Desmond and making it a 2-2 game.

Zimmermann ended up having a control problems in the bottom of the fifth. The bases were loaded when Fred Lewis came to the plate and walked, forcing home the go-ahead run.

"This start right here makes a guy want to go back on the mound. I have to deal with it this whole offseason," Zimmermann said. "It going to make me work even harder and be ready come Spring Training.

"I wanted to finish strong. Today wasn't a very good day. I left two balls that were up a little bit for two home runs. I left with the bases loaded. Of course, I didn't want to walk the guy in the end there. There were a couple of close calls that could have went either way."

Zimmermann ended up with a no-decision, thanks to Ryan Zimmerman, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning and singled up the middle off left-hander Aroldis Chapman, scoring Espinosa. The single snapped a an 0-for-11 slump.

Washington then took the lead off reliever Nick Masset in the top of the ninth inning. Desmond led off with a single to right. He then stole second base, his first since June 17th.

Jayson Werth came to the plate and singled up the middle, scoring Desmond.

However, closer Drew Storen couldn't protect the lead. Pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso led off the ninth and hit a solo homer to tie the game at 4.

"Alfonso is on fire. I'm glad we had to face him only one time in this series, Hew crushed that ball," Johnson said. "It's a tough way to lose [the lead]."

The Nationals have now lost six consecutive games and stand at 62-70. Comments