After missing the first 50 games of the major-league season, Michael Morse is making up for lost time.
The Washington Nationals outfielder earned the game-changing moment of the week for his four-RBI performance in an 11-9 come-from-behind win Sunday over the Milwaukee Brewers.
In the "boxing match" game, the Nationals scored four runs in the eighth inning to tie it 7-7. The Brewers answered back in the bottom of the inning with two runs of their own on back-to-back home runs. Beleaguered Brewers closer John Axford came in to pitch the ninth. With one out and a runner on first, Morse came to the plate and did this:
His eighth home run of the season tied the game 9-9 and sent it to extra innings. Axford, who saved 46 games for the Brewers last season, blew his seventh save of the season.
But Morse wasn’t finished. In the 11th inning, Bryce Harper drew a leadoff walk and Ryan Zimmerman singled. One out later, Morse doubled down the left-field line to give the Nats an 11-9 lead they would not surrender.
"It seemed like it was a boxing match," Morse said. "It kept going back and forth, back and forth. We just hung in there and came through on top.
"It's crazy because you never know what this game has in store until the last out. We fought and kept fighting and they kept fighting, too. It was a great game."
Morse has 32 RBIs in 51 games since returning from the DL (he was out with a lat injury), and his average went over the .300 mark Sunday to .303. The first-place Nationals expected big things from the slugger after he took a star turn in 2011 and hit 31 home runs and drove in 95 runs.
The Nationals improved to a league-best 61-40 on the season and have a four-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. The Brewers, meanwhile, lost for the ninth time in 10 games and their bullpen has taken much of the blame.
"It's just the way it's going with the bullpen," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. On Monday, the Brewers fired bullpen coach Stan Kyles.
Despite one embarrassing blunder, Carlos Gomez had a week to remember. The Brewers center fielder batted .346 last week with 10 RBIs, 10 runs, four home runs – and one pretend home run.
On Wednesday, Gomez thought he led off the game against the Philadelphia Phillies with a home run. Gomez ran the bases even after the ball had been called foul. A red-faced Gomez struck out on the next pitch.
But maybe he used it as a motivation. After that at-bat Gomez connected on six more hits over the next five game, including two actual home runs and six RBIs.