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Nats walk past D-Backs in opener

Nats walk past D-Backs in opener

PHOENIX -- Last Friday against the Rockies, Nationals second baseman Jose Vidro didn't see his name in the starting lineup and went into manager Frank Robinson's to tell the skipper that he wanted to play more and finish the season strong.

At one point during the month of September, Vidro was relegated to the bench because the team wanted to see what Bernie Castro could do at second base. It also didn't help that Vidro was struggling at the plate.

Since that meeting on Friday, Vidro has started three of the last four games, and Monday night was a game that saw the Vidro of old. He drove in four runs against the Diamondbacks, but it was his bases-loaded walk in the top of the ninth inning that helped the Nationals edge Arizona, 7-6, in front of 29,610 at Chase Field to snap their four-game losing streak.

"I'm glad that Frank listened, because I feel great. I don't have any injuries, and it's just a matter of getting the swing back. The last couple of days, it has been great. I'm just glad that he listened to me," Vidro said.

Diamondbacks reliever Luis Vizcaino had problems getting hitters out in the ninth. He gave up consecutive base hits to Felipe Lopez and Ryan Zimmerman. After Nick Johnson struck out, Austin Kearns was walked intentionally to load the bases. That brought up Vidro, who already had two hits and three RBIs in the game.

Vidro worked the count to 3-0. Robinson gave Vidro the green light to swing at 3-0. Vidro swung and fouled off the next pitch. Vizcaino's next pitch looked too close to take, but Vidro, not known to draw a lot of walks, took the pitch and home plate umpire James Hoye called it a ball to force Lopez home for the go-ahead run. It was Vidro's second walk in 69 plate appearances since being activated from the disabled list on Aug. 18.

"Vizcaino was struggling to get his pitches over the strike zone," Vidro said. "Frank gave me the green light, 3-0, and I missed that pitch, but I saw plenty of pitches and I had a pretty good idea what kind of stuff the guy had. I saw the pitch. I knew it was low right away when it left his arm. Basically, I was seeing the ball great. I had a great at-bat, and it turned out to be the winning run."

Nationals closer Chad Cordero shut out Arizona in the ninth inning and earned his 25th save of the season.

The Nationals may have won the game, but it marked the fifth consecutive game in which they didn't receive a quality outing from their starting pitchers. Billy Traber lasted three innings plus two batters, and gave up four runs on eight hits.

The D-Backs scored most of their runs by using the long ball. Connor Jackson, Chris Snyder and Chris Young all hit solo home runs.

It was Traber's first appearance since Sept. 2. He had missed a start because of shoulder soreness but said the injury and the layoff had nothing to do with his poor outing on Monday.

But Traber got off the hook as the Nationals came back from a 4-2 deficit to take the lead in the seventh inning.

The bases were loaded with one out when Johnson singled up the middle against Brandon Lyon to tie the score at 4. The runs were charged to starter Claudio Vargas.

After Kearns walked, Vidro singled home two more runs to give the Nationals a 6-4 lead.

"Vidro is swinging the bat with more authority, and he is getting some big hits for us," Robinson said. "You are seeing the bat speed. You are seeing him pull balls. We are seeing him it the ball hard. That's a good sign."

But Arizona came back in the bottom of the eighth inning. Rauch walked Jackson to leadoff the inning and then Damion Easley took Rauch's 3-2 pitch over the left-field wall to tie the score at 6.

Robinson has been concerned by the fact that Rauch has not been throwing strikes on a consistent basis of late. He has been used to Rauch throwing his fastball for strikes at anytime.

"He is not attacking the strike zone. For whatever reason, I don't know. This is the first year where he has not consistently done that," Robinson said.

Rauch believes he has been pushing himself too hard.

"Recently, I'm just going out there and trying to do too good a job. I'm trying to be too fine with it," Rauch said. "When you do that, the results are not favorable. I can live with giving a solo home run because the hitter is beating me. The walks frustrate me more than anything."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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