WASHINGTON -- It was the home opener at Nationals Park on Thursday afternoon, and Washington edged the Reds, 3-2, in 10 innings, thanks to a wild pitch.
The game was tied at 2 when the Nationals scored the winning run against reliever Alfredo Simon. With runners on second and third, two outs and Roger Bernadina at the plate, Simon threw a wild pitch, scoring Ryan Zimmerman.
"In that situation, I just tried to make a pitch," Simon said. "[Catcher Devin Mesoraco] blocked the ball, but it went to that side. Next time I go out there, I'll try to do it better."
Bernadina could be seen telling Zimmerman not to score, believing the ball wasn't far enough away from Mesoraco, but Zimmerman had a clear view of the play.
"Obviously, the ball has to go away enough before you think you could make it," Zimmerman said. "Bernie hit three balls hard today, so I wasn't going to take the bat out of his hands. But anytime you get a chance to end the game, you can get a read and trust your instincts."
The Nationals improved their record to 5-2, their best start since moving to the nation's capital after the 2004 season.
"We expect to win every game," Zimmerman said "Obviously, we are not going to win every game, but the strength of our team is our pitching and our defense. ... We've done what we needed to do to have a chance to win every day, and that is really all you can ask. It's always better to have more wins than losses, even if it's a week into the season."
Left-hander Gio Gonzalez started the game for the Nationals and showed why they traded four prospects to the Athletics to acquire his services last December. He was outstanding, pitching seven superb innings, allowing two hits and not walking a batter.
The outing was the antithesis of his last start, in which he allowed four runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Cubs last Saturday. Catcher Wilson Ramos said the difference on Thursday was that his changeup was working.
"The changeup didn't work too much [in Chicago], but today it broke more. His pitches were working pretty good today," Ramos said. "Today he shook me off like one time, so we stayed on the same page. That's what I wanted."
Reds manager Dusty Baker saw a different pitcher in Gonzalez than the one he saw when Gonzalez played for the Athletics.
"When we saw him in Oakland, he threw a lot of breaking balls and a lot of curveballs," Baker said. "Today he threw a whole bunch of fastballs. Perhaps he changed his philosophy coming from the American League to the National League."
The only time the Reds had a runner in scoring position against Gonzalez occurred in the second inning. Jay Bruce had a one-out double, but he was left stranded. Ryan Ludwick popped up to Danny Espinosa at second base, while Wilson Valdez grounded out to Zimmerman to end the inning.
"Everything worked today -- defense, offense. Everything just clicked. It was a great win," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez's counterpart, Mat Latos, pitched five innings and allowed two runs, both coming in the bottom of the fifth inning. With the bases loaded, Adam LaRoche singled to center field, scoring Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa.
But the Reds would tie it up in the ninth inning off reliever Brad Lidge, when Ryan Ludwick singled past Zimmerman with the bases loaded, resulting in a double that scored Joey Votto and Scott Rolen.
"It's probably the toughest [to lose the lead], because of the way Gio pitched," Lidge said. "He deserved the win and, unfortunately, I couldn't keep the lead for him. He had an outstanding game. The guys came through and bailed me out. We were able to scratch one across there. If we keep winning, I'll be happy. I know I need to do a little better than today."
Zimmerman, who made an error earlier in the game, blamed himself for not making the play in the ninth. He called the game one of the worst of his career from a defensive standpoint.
"Thank God we won that game, because if we would have lost that game, I couldn't sleep tonight," Zimmerman said. "They are not routine plays like they call them, but I expect myself to make those plays. Thank God, we won. You can kind of forget about it and laugh about it now. Moving forward, I obviously have to make those plays."
And Zimmerman's day in the field could be forgotten, as the Nationals did enough to win the game.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.