Redding aids his own cause in victory
Right-hander hits two-run double, holds Phils to a pair of runs
WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Tim Redding was solid for six-plus innings and drove in two runs, while reliever Ray King was able to get two big outs in the team's 4-2 victory over the Phillies on Wednesday night at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
What Redding and King did were nice, but according to Acta, right fielder Austin Kearns and catcher Brian Schneider were the difference makers of the game. Neither player was the star of the game, but their hustle and determination, according to manager Manny Acta, sparked the victory.
In the second inning, with Kyle Kendrick on the mound and Dmitri Young on first base, Kearns hit what looked like a perfect double-play ball, but Kearns beat out the relay to first base to keep the rally going.
"That's the easiest part of the game -- playing hard," Kearns said. "It kept the inning alive, but I definitely think what Redding did and the bullpen did speaks for itself."
Two batters later, with runners at first and second, Schneider hit what looked like an easy ground ball to Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who had a problem deciding what to do with the ball -- throw to second or head straight to first. By the time, Howard made his decision, Schneider already had an infield single. Two batters later, Redding's two-run double gave the Nationals the lead.
Kearns and Schneider are both having bad seasons with the bat, but that doesn't seem to matter to Acta, calling them the mentors for future Nationals.
"We won the ballgame because Austin Kearns beat out a double-play ball earlier in the game and we scored two runs. Brian Schneider hustled on another ball in the infield and beat it out. That's all we want to do here," Acta said. "We want to make it easier on the Minor League managers and coaches, and we want the kids that are following these guys to follow how Austin Kearns, Brian Schneider, Ryan Zimmerman and some of the guys run the bases and play the game."
But Acta can't ignore the fact the Redding and King were huge contributors to Wednesday's victory.
Redding continues to show that he is the Nationals' best pitcher during the second half of the season. He pitched six-plus innings and gave up two runs on three hits. Acta went so far as to say that Redding is helping himself become a fixture in this rotation.
"It's been a consistent job throughout all the outings he's had. He's not just winning, he's showing us his stuff," Acta said. "He's throwing a good slider and a decent changeup. Every game he's in the low-90's. If you recover [after surgery], you can get seven more years out of a guy if you maintain that."
Humble as always, Redding downplayed the fact that he is making a case to stay with the Nationals as one of their pitchers in the rotation.
"I can't elaborate on what I'm thinking, what the front office is thinking, what Manny is thinking, what [pitching coach] Randy [St. Claire] is thinking," Redding said. "All I can control is how am I going to do my next time out and let them deal with the decision making. All I can do is go six, seven innings and keep the team in the game. And try to win as many as possible. I'm having a blast right now."
With the Nationals leading, 4-1, Redding left the game in the seventh inning after the first two hitters -- Aaron Rowand and Wes Helms -- he faced reach base. Saul Rivera entered the game and didn't retire a batter, which included an RBI single by Chris Coste.
With the bases loaded and no outs, the left-handed King entered the game and prevented further damage. He struck out pinch-hitter Russell Branyan and Jimmy Rollins, who was 1-for-6 against King prior to the at-bat.
"Ray had decent success against both of them -- Rollins and Branyan," Acta said. "It's not as many at-bats, but still it's a pretty good matchup. And also the fact that from the right side, we might be able to get a double play out of Rollins that you don't get on the left side. And his power is more from the left side, too."
Luis Ayala finished the job by getting Tadahito Iguchi to hit into a force play to end the inning.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.