WASHINGTON -- Ryan Zimmerman's two-run broken-bat bloop single in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Nationals to a wild 8-7 victory over the Mets at Nationals Park on Saturday night.
At first glance, it appeared that the Mets weren't aware that Zimmerman is clutch when it comes to game-winning hits. After all, he had 13 walk-off hits entering the game.
With runners on first and second and closer Bobby Parnell on the mound, Mets manager Terry Collins decided to walk Roger Bernadina in order to set up a possible double play. And that brought up Zimmerman.
"I didn't want to [walk Bernadina], but I know we've got to try to get a DP," Collins said. "Bernadina's going to put the ball in play. We're going to end up facing Zimmerman anyway."
With the bases loaded and one out, Zimmerman swung at a 2-1 pitch --- clocked at 100 mph -- and blooped a single near the right-field line, scoring Brian Bixler and Jonny Gomes.
"He broke his bat in half, it wasn't that bad a pitch. You've got to try to win the game," Collins said.
Zimmerman felt he was fortunate to get the hit.
"Parnell has pretty good stuff. I was just trying to put the barrel on the ball and just get one in -- at least a sac fly, hit something to the outfield in the air. I got real lucky," Zimmerman said.
Manager Davey Johnson continues to be amazed by what Zimmerman can do when the game is on the line.
"He does it all the time. I was kind of surprised it was a bloop single. I was looking for a rocket, but I'll take it," Johnson said.
It looked like the Nationals were in for a celebration earlier, as left-hander Tom Milone made his Major League debut and was looking like a hero. Milone helped himself by hitting a three-run homer in his first career at-bat.
The memorable homer occurred in the second. With runners on second and third and one out, Milone swung at the first pitch he saw from Mets righty Dillon Gee and hit a long drive over the right-field wall to give Washington a 5-0 lead.
To top it off, Milone took a curtain call.
Before he came to the plate, Milone acknowledged that he was trying to hit the first pitch.
"I was on the on-deck circle telling myself that if I get a first-pitch fastball, I was going to swing at it," Milone said.
Once the ball landed in the bullpen, the Nats' relievers were celebrating, with left-hander Sean Burnett retrieving the ball.
"The bullpen lost it. As soon as he hit, we knew it was gone," Burnett said. "There is not a better feeling in the world for a pitcher to hit a home run. To see the first pitch in the big leagues is something special. It's part of a special night for him. That's pretty incredible."
Milone became the fourth Nationals/Expos player to homer in his first plate appearance. His hitting prowess shouldn't surprise anyone, since he was 9-for-26 (.346) with three RBIs for Triple-A Syracuse.
"I take a lot of pride in my hitting," Milone said. "I used to hit in high school. I love hitting. It's fun. In my off time, if I have nothing to do, I go in the cage and hit or something like that. I love to hit. I think it's something fun other than pitching."
However, Milone started getting roughed up by the fourth, when New York scored four runs to make it 5-4. Nick Evans highlighted the scoring with a two-run homer. Johnson took Milone out with one out in the fifth after the lefty allowed a single to Jose Reyes.
Milone said he didn't lose his concentration after hitting the home run.
"I thought there was a lot more adrenaline pumping after something like that happens," he said. "I just tried to keep my composure and go out there still pitch my game."
Despite the rough ending, Johnson ended being impressed with the young left-hander.
"He is a pitcher. I know everybody wanted me to stay with him," Johnson said. "He pitched well for me. He made a couple of bad pitches, but -- by and large -- he went after them. I didn't want to take a chance of him losing it."
After Bernadina increased Washington's lead to 6-4 with a homer in the fifth, reliever Tom Gorzelanny couldn't hold the lead, allowing a two-run homer to Jason Bay to tie the score at 6.
New York took the lead in the seventh off right-hander Tyler Clippard, as Lucas Duda hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Willie Harris.
But it was Zimmerman who saved the day and gave the Nationals their 64th victory of the season.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.