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Nationals rally in the ninth behind hits by Thomas, Meneses and beat the Rockies 2-1

DENVER (AP) — Lane Thomas doubled in the tying run and Joey Meneses singled to drive in the go-ahead run as the Washington Nationals rallied in the ninth inning to beat the Colorado Rockies 2-1 on Sunday, taking the three-game series 2-1.

Down 1-0 heading into the top of the ninth and held to one hit by starter Kyle Freeland and reliever Nick Mears, the Nationals finally broke through against reliever Jalen Beeks (4-4).

Michael Toglia homered in the second for the Rockies’ only run.

Jacob Young started the ninth by beating out an infield single. CJ Abrams reached on a fielder’s choice and went to second when Beeks uncorked a wild pitch. Thomas then lined a double to right, driving Abrams home with the tying run. Thomas stole third base ahead of Meneses’ decisive single.

“We always talk about hitting is not easy,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “Sometimes you struggle. It’s a day game in Colorado and all of a sudden, boom, boom, boom, your back was against the wall and here we go. The one thing I can tell you about these guys, again, they’ve got character, and they don’t quit. They play hard for 27 outs and I’m proud of them.”

The Nationals improved to 11-4 since June 7, the best record in the majors in that span. They have won four of their last five series.

Kyle Finnegan, whose pitch-clock violation in the ninth Saturday night resulted in a go-ahead bases-loaded walk in the Nationals’ 8-7 loss, allowed singles to Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers before coming back to strike out Nolan Jones and Toglia around a flyout by Hunter Goodman for his 22nd save.

“You want to go out there and get off to a good start. That didn’t happen and I felt like yesterday was spilling over into today a little bit,” Finnegan said. “I felt like I was making good pitches and they were hitting it where we weren’t. I got in a hole, but I kind of bear down and I told myself, ‘I wasn’t going to let it happen.’ I was able to get that first strikeout, which was huge. A lot of momentum there and then the flyout and … the last hitter, I was able to get ahead of him and get the job done.”

Beeks, meanwhile, lamented his own fate as the only Rockies pitcher to give up any runs in the game.

“It just stinks because you know everybody but me pretty much did their job to win the game,” Beeks said. “I’ve just got to figure out a way to get those guys out and stay consistent and figure out a way to get a win.”

Dylan Floro (3-1) got the win with 1 1/3 hitless innings in relief of Jake Irvin, who matched a career best with 10 strikeouts. He allowed three hits in six innings, including Toglia’s 462-foot home run into the second deck.

Freeland pitched six innings of one-hit ball in his first start in more than two months. He went on the injured list with a left elbow strain after losing his last start April 15 at Toronto when he allowed four runs in five innings as part of the Rockies’ 5-0 loss to the Blue Jays. Freeland came in with an ERA 13.21 but lowered it to 9.55

“It’s definitely a confidence boost, especially coming off my first four outings and then two months of no pitching," Freeland said. "Hopefully the team can get me behind me as well with that moving forward.”

Freeland, who struck out four struck, didn’t give up a hit until Young lined a grounder sharply down the third base line. Third baseman McMahon ranged to his left to make a backhand stop and then sailed his throw over first baseman Toglia for a two-base error. But Freeland fanned Abrams and Thomas to get out of the jam.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rockies: LHP Austin Kitchen was designated for assignment to make roster room for Freeland, who was reinstated from the 60-day injured list. … OF Sean Bouchard (back soreness) and RHP Jake Bird (groin tightness), who both exited Saturday night’s game early, were considered day to day by the team, club officials said.

UP NEXT

Nationals: LHP Patrick Corbin (1-7, 5.60 ERA) will be trying for his 99th career victory when he starts Monday night’s series opener at San Diego. The Padres are slated to counter with RHP Matt Waldron (5-6, 3.46).

Rockies: After wrapping up a 10-game homestand, its longest of the season, Colorado will have LHP Austin Gomber (1-4, 4.36) start Monday night’s series opener at Houston. RHP Hunter Brown (4-5, 4.72) is slated to start for the Astros as part of the two-game set.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb