Phillies Finally Put Away Pesky Nationals in 14th
Thursday, September 28, 2006
The Philadelphia Phillies may very well claim the National League's wild-card berth, but the Washington Nationals, whose postseason aspirations evaporated months ago, are making it extraordinarily difficult for them.
An evening after disrupting the Phillies' playoff march with a controversial win at RFK Stadium, the Nationals dragged Philadelphia through 14 innings, tying the game in the ninth and 10th and nearly doing it again in the 14th before dropping an 8-7 decision in front of what remained of the 21,809 on hand at the start of the 4-hour 53-minute game.
Washington had its three-game winning streak stopped, while the Phillies kept pace with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who maintained their one-game lead in the wild-card race with a 6-4 win at Colorado.
"They did all they could do tonight," Nationals Manager Frank Robinson said. "They hung tough and they battled all the way."
The Nationals forced extra innings when Ryan Zimmerman drew a one-out, bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning. However, a pair of popouts ended the threat and set up a wild 10th.
Abraham Nuñez's one-out double restored the Phillies' lead, but Brian Schneider's one-out single tied it again.
On and on it went, the Nationals turning to an eighth pitcher, the Phillies to a ninth.
In the 14th, after Philadelphia failed to get the ball out of the infield in a first-and-third situation, Jimmy Rollins (3 for 8, four RBI) tripled into the right field corner.
In the bottom of the inning, the Nationals loaded the bases on a couple of hits -- including one by pinch hitter Beltran Perez, a rookie starting pitcher -- and an error. Ryan Church's sacrifice fly drove in one run before Schneider's sharp grounder turned into a game-ending double play.
Philadelphia's Jeff Conine finished 0 for 7, Washington's Alfonso Soriano was 0 for 6. The teams combined to leave 29 runners on base.
"More than anything, we didn't give up, kept fighting back and ended up playing a really good ballgame," Schneider said. "When you see [Perez] get that hit, you're like, 'Hmm, maybe something's going to happen here.' "
Robinson was particularly impressed with the effort of reliever Jason Bergmann, who worked four quality innings but was tagged with the loss. He yielded Chris Coste's double and Michael Bourn's bunt single and, with the infield in, retired two batters on grounders before allowing Rollins's triple.