Nationals open new park with win
Ryan Zimmerman hits a walk-off home run to defeat the Braves 3-2 at Nationals Park.
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2008 08:37 GMT

Ryan Zimmerman was the star of the show as the Nationals opened their new park [GALLO/GETTY]

Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals celebrated the opening of their new stadium as Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo walk-off home run to secure victory over the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park.
Zimmerman, who was on two strikes, sent a pitch from Braves right-hander Peter Moylan into the first row of the Red Porch section in left-center field, with the first home run ever at the new state-of-the-art park caught by a fan wearing a glove and a Nationals jacket.
The game marked the first Major League Baseball game of 2008 on US soil, after the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics officially launched the season with a two-game series in Japan earlier in the week.

George W. Bush, US President, threw the ceremonial first pitch to Nationals manager Manny Acta, and US troops carried two huge American flags in the pre-game ceremonies, which also included a flyover by four F-16s from the Washington DC National Guard's 121st Fighter Squadron.

"I haven't seen anything from top to bottom that I don't like."

Bud Selig,
MLB Commissioner
Denyce Graves, opera vocalist, sang the national anthem and "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch.

The Braves tied the match at 2-2 in the ninth after Mark Teixeira doubled off the wall in right center and Pinch runner Martin Prado scored on a passed ball by Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca.

However Zimmerman, who hit the Nationals' only walk-off homer last season - a grand slam off Jorge Julio that lifted Washington over the Florida Marlins on May 12, had the final say in the bottom of the ninth.

'Fabulous cathedral'

Bud Selig, Major League Baseball Commissioner, was among the VIPs in attendance.

"When I use the word cathedral, I only do that when a park deserves it," Selig said.

"This is a fabulous cathedral. There's no detail that they have forgotten, which is really remarkable... really, they've done a great job.

"The park is beautiful. I haven't seen anything from top to bottom that I don't like."

The US Capitol is on view over the left-field wall at the new stadium, while two large cranes are a reminder of the neighborhood redevelopment project connected with the park.

"We're back where we belong," Selig said.

"For lack of a better term, we're back in baseball land.

"My sincerest congratulations to everybody. I'm enjoying myself immensely."

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