Redding stifles Phils in shutout victory
Righty recovers from illness; Zimmerman belts decisive homer
PHILADELPHIA -- Nationals right-hander Tim Redding wondered on Tuesday if he was going to pitch the next night against the Phillies.
Redding was sick most of Tuesday, because he said the oysters he ate on Monday night "didn't agree with me." He spent all of Tuesday in his hotel bed. When he wasn't lying down, Redding vomited six times.
"I didn't leave my room [on Tuesday] at all," Redding said.
When he woke up Wednesday morning, however, Redding felt better, but he was starving. He had Cheerios and fruit for breakfast and went on to have lunch with his agent. But he still had a lingering headache.
By the time Wednesday's game started, the headache was gone and Redding ended up having one of the best games of his career, pitching seven-plus innings and giving up just one hit, as the Nationals blanked the Phillies, 1-0, at Citizens Bank Park. It marked the second time the Phillies were shutout at the park since it opened in 2004 and first time since '03, when the Expos started the season 3-0.
The only hit Redding allowed came in the second, when Pedro Feliz singled to center field. After that, Redding retired 15 of the next 17 batters.
"It was tremendous. It was a great outing," manager Manny Acta said. "He had a good fastball. He kept it down on the knees. He was able to throw his pitches for strikes all night."
Redding managed to pitch so well despite that fact that it was cold. The game-time temperature was 49 degrees.
"It was difficult to throw when it's cold. You are constantly going to your mouth to get some moisture on your hands," Redding said. "To say I threw well, I have to tip my hat [to the guys] behind me."
It was the defense that helped preserve the win. In the bottom of the seventh, with one out and Ryan Howard on first, Pat Burrell hit a liner on the left side of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who short-hopped the ball and threw to second baseman Ronnie Belliard for the force at second. Belliard was then able to throw to first to complete the double play.
In the eighth, with reliever Luis Ayala on the mound, the Phillies had a runner on first, when Pedro Feliz hit a shot that went off the glove of Zimmerman. The ball then bounced right to shortstop Cristian Guzman, who was able to get Geoff Jenkins at second base for the force play.
"It was a great defensive day. I didn't want to take any credit what so ever," the humble Redding said. "The defense picked me up tonight."
Zimmerman said the team was able to make plays because Redding was able to throw strikes and allowed the hitters to put the ball in play.
"It's a lot easier to stay on our toes when we have a pitcher who is going after hitters and not walking people. It was an unbelievable effort by Tim," Zimmerman said. "Anytime you have a guy who is throwing as well as he is, as a defense, you don't want to let him down."
The only run of the game came in the top of the sixth, when Zimmerman hit Cole Hamels' 1-2 fastball over the right-field wall for his second home run of the season and second game-winning homer of the year. The first came against the Braves on Sunday in the home opener.
Maybe Paul Lo Duca was right when he said on Sunday night that Zimmerman is in the same class as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant in terms of coming through in the clutch. Zimmerman has his reasons on why he comes through the way he does.
"I don't think about it. I think that's the best way to explain it," Zimmerman said. "I just try to go out there and have quality at-bats and hit the ball hard. I don't try to hit home runs, doubles or whatever. I try to make solid contact. If good things happen, they happen."
Washington had Hamels on the ropes in the first, but didn't score. The Nationals had runners on first and second and no outs, but they had problems advancing the runners. Zimmerman hit a ball to deep left field, but it stayed in the park. After Nick Johnson hit into a forceout to put runners on first and third with two outs, Austin Kearns walked to load the bases. However, Lo Duca grounded out to Howard to end the inning.
"It was tougher to hit because of the guy on the mound. I would not say it was the weather," Zimmerman said about Hamels. "He is one of the best pitchers in the game. Luckily for us, we has someone to match him. We scraped one out. These are the kind of wins that build character."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.