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Thanks, Anderson

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I always knew Anderson Hernandez would help the Nats win a game this season. I just didn’t figure Hernandez would be wearing a Mets uniform when he did it.

The former Nats infielder, though, played a big role in tonight’s 4-3 victory. With the game tied in the eighth and a runner on first, Hernandez scooped up Cristian Guzman’s grounder to short and flipped the ball toward second base. Unfortunately, second baseman Luis Castillo wasn’t there yet. The ball rolled away, everyone was safe and Hernandez was charged with an error. Moments later, he made a great play to his left on Ian Desmond’s sharp grounder, and again flipped to second. This time, Castillo was there and got the forceout. And then promptly tried to complete the double play and threw the ball into the Nats dugout.

That’s how the Nats scored the go-ahead run. They then held onto that lead in the ninth thanks to a fantastic catch by Elijah Dukes. With two outs and a man on first, David Wright absolutely smoked a ball to deep right-center. Off the bat, everyone assumed it was at least a double and that the game would be tied. Instead, Dukes tracked it down, made a lunging catch and then slammed into the wall. He fell to the ground but hopped back up with the ball still in his glove, and the Nats had themselves a 4-3 win.

“I must say, it feels good when you come out with the ball when you crash into the wall, instead of crashing into the wall without the ball,” Dukes said.

And it feels good when the Nats play hard in an otherwise meaningless game and are rewarded for their efforts with a victory.

“Every win down the stretch feels good because you know how much these guys want it,” Jim Riggleman said. “They really want to win the ballgames. Nobody’s happy about our year. Individually, some guys have had some very nice years. But overall, we’re part of a team and we’re part of an organization, and we want to be proud of it. So you want to win ballgames and finish up strong.”

The Nats will have one last chance to leave a positive impression on their fans tomorrow. Home finale at 4:35 p.m. Lots of giveaways, including the always popular “Shirts Off Their Backs” event right after the game. Talk to you then.

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Mark Zuckerman

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