The Washington Times - August 4, 2009, 11:10PM

Quick show of hands: The Nats were down 4-0 heading into the eighth tonight. Josh Johnson had retired 20 straight and struck out nine. Washington hadn’t beaten the Florida Marlins since last September and had lost 23 of 26 to the Marlins.

Anybody expect the Nats to win? Me neither.

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The six-run eighth inning Washington put together defied almost all logic, based on what’s happened against the Marlins the last two seasons. But then, so did the way the Nats had lost so many of those games. Tonight, with Johnson cruising and time running out, they gave one back to the Marlins.

“I think this is probably be the best game of the season,” said Adam Dunn, who delivered the game winning homer off Dan Meyer in the eighth. “We put some good at-bats together in the eighth inning, and that’s just kind of what happens.”

The immediate question, of course, is: What’s changed? It’s tough to say there hasn’t been a renewed fire under Riggleman, who has led the Nats to nine wins in their last 14 games, the most consistent baseball they’ve played this year.

Nobody in the clubhouse had an exact explanation for the change afterward, but it seems like Riggleman has something to do with it.

” “It’s a different feeling, but I think we could’ve done that a month ago,” said infielder Willie Harris, who filled in for Ryan Zimmerman at third, started the eighth with a single — and then was in the bathroom for Dunn’s decisive blast. “We just weren’t able to pull it out, but now things are going well.”

Said Riggleman: “There’s a lot of veterans in there. It’s perceived as a young club. It’s a young pitching staff, but there’s a lot of veterans in there with a lot of pride.”

Game 2 of this three-game set is tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. Riggleman said he hopes to have Ryan Zimmerman back for that one, but the third baseman’s shoulder will have to be a lot better for him to play.

A quick public service announcement about tomorrow’s game: In our ever-expanding effort to give you better in-game coverage on the website, I’m hoping to fiddle around with a program that will link all of my Twitter posts here, as well as any tweets filed under Nationals hashtags. You’ll be able to read them here, comment on them and check back on them later. We’ll see how it goes—and please let me know what you think of the idea and ways to improve it—but I’ll blog with more details tomorrow.