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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Washington Nationals open their new stadium by beating Atlanta Braves on Zimmerman’s homer


WASHINGTON (AP)—Nationals Park had quite an opening.

Ryan Zimmerman hit a tiebreaking homer off Peter Moylan with two outs in the ninth inning, and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 Sunday night in the first regular-season game at the $611 million stadium.

With the dome of the U.S. Capitol lit up against the black night sky beyond left field, and the Washington Monument visible from patches of the upper deck, Zimmerman raised his right fist as he rounded first base. Teammates spilled out of the dugout—it’s along the first-base line now, not the third-base line, like at old RFK Stadium—and greeted the face of the franchise at home plate for celebratory pounds on the back.

Nick Johnson delivered an RBI double in his first at-bat in more than 18 months, Odalis Perez matched Tim Hudson, and Jon Rauch (1-0) earned the victory after blowing a save in the top of the ninth.

All in all, it sent the paid crowd of 39,389 heading away with even more to smile about than the gleaming white-stone-and-glass ballpark.

With President Bush on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, the Nationals had their first victory in a season opener in four tries since moving to the nation’s capital from Montreal.


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