There are reasons the Washington Nationals are the best team in the major leagues, at least going by record. One is their ability to not panic in the face of a deficit, and instead put forth quality at-bats and stay aggressive at the plate. That strategy worked Saturday, as the Nats batted around and plated five runs in the fifth inning on their way to a come-from-behind 6-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This one had to be a tough loss to take for the Diamondbacks, who built a 4-1 lead only to see it disappear. A pair of errors opened the door for the Nationals' big inning, which featured five hits including a two-run single by Ryan Zimmerman.
All-Star starter Wade Miley (12-8) was unable to make it out of the inning and lasted 4 1/3, allowing six runs but only four of those were earned, plus the wild pitch he threw. The Diamondbacks didn't help him with three errors on defense (two in the fifth), one each for Justin Upton, third baseman Chris Johnson and catcher Miguel Montero.
"I make good pitches and I get out of it," Miley, who has been heralded as an NL Cy Young Award candidtate, said. "Just go out (six days from now) and put hit behind me. Just forget about it and go home."
Aaron Hill hit his 14th home run of the season and Montero hit his second triple of 2012, helping the Arizona Diamondbacks grab the early lead. The Diamondbacks looked to have control of the game in the second inning when they scored twice, Upton hitting a leadoff double off the glove of Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and scoring on Montero's triple to center. Two outs and four batters later. Stephen Drew drove in Montero with a single to make it 3-1.
Upton heard the boos early when he booted a hit into the right field corner that allowed the Nationals' Danny Espinosa to score from first base. But Hill got that run back quickly, hammering an Edwin Jackson pitch into the left-field seats.
It turned out to be a very good offensive day for Upton, who also doubled in the third inning. The Diamondbacks added their fourth run when Johnson hit a sacrifice fly to right field that allowed Jason Kubel to score from third with the bases loaded and one out.
Jackson left the game in the sixth ahead 6-5 after a single by Gerardo Parra and a pinch-hit double from Ryan Wheeler. As usual, Parra, the star of the night due to it being his bobblehead likeness giveaway, motored around the bases and scored.
Hill led off the bottom of the seventh with a double, but was left stranded there. The Diamondbacks still had life though, and the crowd was energized when reliever David Hernandez struck out the brash rookie Bryce Harper looking to end the top of the eighth.
Parra reached base twice in three trips to the plate, but was removed in favor of Chris Young in the bottom of the eighth. Young drew a walk, and with runners at first and second, Arizona State standout Jake Elmore made his major-league debut. But Elmore flied out to right, and Stephen Drew struck out.
"In the seventh and eighth we were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson pointed out. "To play as poorly as we did, it hurts that much more."
Washington closer Tyler Clippard set down the D-backs in order to earn the save.
The Diamondbacks (57-57) missed a chance to gain ground on the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost in Miami, and fell to five games out of first place behind San Francisco in the NL West.