D-backs down Nationals in finale, end year at .500
Sep 29, 2013 at 4:41p ET
A.J. Pollock beat out an infield single to drive in the go-ahead run and the D-backs ended a mediocre season on a high note, beating the Nationals 3-2 on Sunday in Johnson's final game as manager.
"We as a team expected to be still playing right now," shortstop Willie Bloomquist said. "I think that is where expectations need to stay. As a whole this year, it has been disappointing, even though we ended on a high note."
After losing the series' first two games, Arizona scratched out a pair of runs off Washington reliever Ryan Mattheus (0-2) in the eighth inning. Martin Prado had a run-scoring single in the inning, and Pollock then dove into first safely after hitting a comebacker that bounced off Mattheus.
David Hernandez (5-6) pitched a perfect eighth and Brad Ziegler closed out the ninth for his 13th save.
The win ended a long season for the Diamondbacks. Thanks to 25 extra-inning games, they played 1,538 innings this season to break the major league record set by the 1964 Yankees. The D-backs won 16 of those games in extras but played nearly nine extra games -- 80 extra innings -- and faded down the stretch after leading the NL West for most of the season's first half.
The Diamondbacks finished 81-81, 11 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
"Not every good," said starter Wade Miley, who allowed two runs -- one earned -- on eight hits over seven innings. "We were above .500 most of the year, but it is one of those things we have to reflect on and build from it for next year."
The Diamondbacks recognized Johnson before the game, and he doffed his hat to the crowd as he stepped out of the dugout. After taking the lineup card to home plate for the final time, he spent the next nine innings as he always does: offering positive reinforcement to his players while pulling the strings to get one last win.
He ended up just short in the finale but leaves with quite a legacy built over 17 years as a manager and 13 as a player. He won a World Series with the Mets in 1986 and joined Billy Martin as the managers to take four teams to the postseason when he led the Nationals to the playoffs last season while earning his second manager of the year award at 69. He also went to the postseason with the Reds and Orioles. Johnson was a four-time All-Star as a player, earned three Gold Gloves and won a pair of World Series rings with Baltimore in 1966 and 1970.
And with Sunday's loss, his career is over.
"Time to go home," said Johnson, who finished his career 1,372-1,071. "Put me out to pasture."
The Diamondbacks won the NL West in 2011 and were expected to make another run after boosting payroll following a postseason-less 2012. They looked like a playoff team the first half of the season, leading the division most of the way, but then fell well behind the Dodgers after the All-Star break.
At least they ended on a high note.
Arizona scored in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Paul Goldschmidt after pitcher Tanner Roark committed a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt.
Washington went ahead when Zach Walters hit an RBI triple after third baseman Martin Prado's throwing error in the sixth inning, and Steve Lombardozzi put the Nationals up 2-1 with a run-scoring single.
Roark allowed a run on three hits in seven innings.
The Diamondbacks, like they have all season, never gave up, though, putting together a late rally before heading into what could be an offseason of changes.
"I have said it from the beginning: We have the talent in this clubhouse to do special things," Bloomquist said. "I don't think a major overhaul is necessary."
NOTES: Washington had won its previous four season finales. ... Johnson was 224-183 in three seasons with the Nationals. ... Goldschmidt had a single in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 19 games. He also joined Mel Ott as the only NL players 25 under to hit .300 with 35 homers, 100 RBIs and 100 runs in a season. ... Members of the Phoenix Coyotes watched the game from the pool deck in right field.