Escobar Caps Nats' Rally Past Marlins

The Associated Press
Wednesday, July 19, 2006; 1:05 AM

MIAMI -- Washington Nationals closer Chad Cordero couldn't remember the last time he had a save. He's not likely to forget the one he got Tuesday night.

Cordero struck out two batters with a runner on third to record his first save since June 17 and preserve the Nationals' 7-6 come-from-behind victory over the Florida Marlins.

"I knew if I made my pitches, I'd be able to get out of it," Cordero said. "Luckily, I was able to do it."

Cordero got in the jam when Alfredo Amezaga led off with a bunt single, went to second on a sacrifice and advanced to third when Cordero's pick-off attempt went off the runner into right field for an error.

After intentionally walking Miguel Cabrera, Cordero struck out pinch-hitter Mike Jacobs, who came into the game with an 11-game hitting streak. After walking Wes Helms, Cordero struck out Jeremy Hermida to record his 14th save in 17 opportunities.

"The last inning the swings got big," Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. "I consider that it was youth and it was ego."

Alex Escobar broke a 6-6 tie in the top of the ninth with a two-out RBI single that capped Washington's rally from a 5-1 deficit.

Escobar's single with two outs off Logan Kensing (1-3) drove in Ryan Zimmerman, who had doubled to extend his hitting streak to a rookie franchise-record 17 games. After Nick Johnson was intentionally walked, Escobar lined a single up the middle.

Escobar was in the game as a replacement for outfielder Jose Guillen, who left before the bottom of the second because of soreness in his right elbow.

"For a young player just coming in, it was a great opportunity," Escobar said. "It was good for me. Obviously it makes you feel good when you come through in a clutch situation."

Mike Stanton (3-5) was the winner with one scoreless inning in relief.

Johnson had three hits and three RBIs for the Nationals, who won for only the third time in their last 15 road games. Johnson tied the game at 5 in the seventh inning with a two-out, two-run single off Florida starter Dontrelle Willis.

Miguel Cabrera gave Florida a 6-5 lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning, but Robert Fick tied it in the eighth with his second homer, also off Kensing.

Washington trailed 5-1 after five innings, then scored twice in the sixth and twice in the seventh.

"It shows you we're not quitting," Zimmerman said. "We're not trying to lose. Some people might think we're not trying hard, but we're playing like we're in a pennant race."

Cabrera, who came into the game in an 0-for-11 slump, went 4-for-4 with two RBIs. Hanley Ramirez and Wes Helms hit home runs in the first inning for the Marlins.

"My body is feeling better," Cabrera said. "Physically, I'm getting my rhythm again after the All-Star game and home run derby. I haven't rested much, but the last couple of days my body is feeling better. Hopefully, the hits will continue."

Alfonso Soriano opened the game with a home run for Washington, his fifth leadoff homer of the season and 28th of his career. Ramirez's leadoff home run in the bottom of the first made it the 28th time in major league history both teams hit leadoff homers.

Ramirez set a Marlins record with his fourth leadoff home run of the season. That also tied the franchise career record, held by Devon White.

Reggie Abercrombie scored in the fifth inning after he beat out a bunt single and came home on consecutive throwing errors by third baseman Zimmerman and second baseman Marlon Anderson.

Willis gave up five runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings as he failed to go at least seven innings for the first time in his last nine starts.

"There's a bunch of things that I did wrong out there, physically and mentally," Willis said. "That's the game. I didn't show up to play today."

Washington starter Mike O'Connor, recalled from Triple-A New Orleans earlier Tuesday, allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. Washington remained without a victory by a starter for the 10th consecutive game.

Notes:@ Guillen, the subject of trade rumors, said he would undergo an MRI on his elbow Wednesday. ... Guillen grounded out in his only at-bat, snapping his eight-game hitting streak. ... Florida bench coach Gary Tuck was ejected in the top of the seventh. ... Nationals 2B Jose Vidro, who left Monday s game with a slight strain in his left hamstring, sat out the game. He is listed as day-to-day. ... Ramirez left the game after the fifth inning because of soreness in his right knee. ... Zimmerman had shared the rookie hitting streak record with Endy Chavez (2002).

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