His team's season was on the line and Nationals starter Ross Detwiler, a St. Louis native, was facing his hometown club for the second time in 12 days.
On Sept. 30, with a chance to pitch the Nats to the National League East title, he faltered in front of friends and family at Busch Stadium. On Thursday he tossed the best game of his career under immense pressure against the Cardinals. Detwiler's six-inning, 104-pitch outing set the stage for Jayson Werth's incredible walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth as Washington took a 2-1 victory in Game 4 of the NL Division Series.
(View a photo gallery with images from the game)
The Nats avoided elimination and pushed the series to a decisive Game 5 at home on Friday night with ace Gio Gonzalez on the mound against Cardinals veteran Adam Wainwright.
Jordan Zimmermann, who labored through three innings as the starter in Game 2, was called upon in relief for the first time in his career and didn't disappoint. He struck out the side in the seventh inning, even touching 97 mph. Washington manager Davey Johnson turned to Tyler Clippard to face the heart of the St. Louis batting order in the eighth inning. He walked one, but struck out the other three.
But Washington's offense, shackled this entire series, continued to struggle. St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse pitched seven innings and allowed only a solo home run by Adam LaRoche in the second inning. Otherwise, he retired 20 of the 23 batters he faced. Only a LaRoche walk and a single by Ryan Zimmerman put any runners on base for the Nats.
Mitchell Boggs then came on in relief in the eighth for the Cardinals and retired three of the four batters he faced. In all, 23 of 27 Nats batters failed to reach base. That's a different problem from what they faced in the first three games when Washington left one runner after another in scoring position. This time no one other than LaRoche reached second base. Meanwhile, Drew Storen came on in the ninth and struck out two more Cardinals before escaping the inning with the game still tied.
That brought Werth to the plate, and on the 13th pitch he saw from reliever Lance Lynn he ripped one over the wall in left and into the St. Louis bullpen to send the crowd of 44,392 into hysterics. The Nats were still breathing.