Nationals Notebook

Villone Gets the Win in Debut for Nationals

By Jack Magruder
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, May 9, 2009

PHOENIX, May 8 -- What began as another time-killing day in Atlanta for Ron Villone ended as a momentum-killing night in Los Angeles.

Villone and his wife, Brooke, were window shopping in an Atlanta mall on Thursday afternoon before his scheduled game for the Class AAA Syracuse Chiefs against Atlanta's farm team in suburban Gwinnett. That's when the cellphone rang, and Villone found himself summoned, again, to the major leagues.

A transcontinental flight from Atlanta to LAX later, Villone tied a major league record by appearing for his 12th team. Making the day even better, Villone pitched a scoreless seventh inning to earn the victory as the Nationals overcame a six-run deficit in an 11-9 victory that broke the Dodgers' 13-game home winning streak.

"Great day. Got a chance to play," Villone said. "The guys battled all the way through, and we won the game."

Villone, 39, took a taxi to Dodger Stadium from the airport, grabbed his spikes and glove out of his bag, and dressed quickly. He was in the dugout by the second inning and in the bullpen by the third.

"That was impressive. We knew it was a long trip for him, and it could have been a challenge. But he's been around. I'm sure he's done that quite a few times," Nationals Manager Manny Acta said.

Villone, who began his major league career with Seattle in 1995, tied right-hander Mike Morgan by playing for 12 major league teams. He was 1-2 with a 4.68 ERA in 74 appearances with St. Louis last season.

Ex-Nat López Thriving

Felipe López has been just fine since leaving Washington. He is off to a .303 start for Arizona this season after hitting .385 in the final two months last season with St. Louis, where he signed after being released by the Nationals.

"I worked harder," after leaving Washington, López said "Being in St. Louis with those guys, a winning team, that all helped. It's not easy to go about your business when you are losing every single day."

Acta Praises Ousted Melvin

Acta, who interviewed for the Diamondbacks' managerial job before Bob Melvin was hired in 2005, had kind words for Melvin, who was fired Thursday night and replaced by player personnel director A.J. Hinch, a 34-year-old with no managerial or coaching experience.

"I do feel for Bob, because Bob is a class-act guy and a very good manager," Acta said. "He was in the playoffs two years ago. Unfortunately in our business, there are only five guys who can pick and choose where they go and how long they can stay."

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