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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nats rally TWICE to edge D-Backs 7-6 OR Church on Sunday and Jésus to the rescue!

The Washington Nationals avoided a sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday with two thrilling come-from-behind rallies, edging the National League West leaders 7-6 and avoiding a sweep to close out their roadtrip.

The heroes of the afternoon's action were Ryan Church, Jésus Flores, Robert Fick, Felipe Lopez and the bullpen of Chris Schroeder, Saul Rivera, Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero.

First they were down 5-1 and rallied to tie things up 5-5, then the D-Backs grabbed the lead again 6-5 and the Nats rallied for the second time to win 7-6.

Flores hit a homerun in the 9th to tie the score at 6-6, Robert Fick hit a triple (which might have been scored a double and an error, but wasn't) and was himself driven in by Felipe Lopez on a sacrifice to put them up 7-6.

Starter Mike Bacsik didn't last as long as he would have liked, going only 4 innings in which he gave up 5 runs (including 2 homers) on 8 hits and a walk. Fortunately, Chris Schroeder came in and threw 2 shutout innings (striking out 2), Saul Rivera allowed 1 hit in his single inning, Jon Rauch gave up 1 run on 2 hits and got the win, and Chad Cordero notched his 26th save of the season.

Ryan Report: Exciting! Ryan Church went 2 for 4 with a homer and 2 R.B.I.'s, Zimmerman went 1 for 5 with a triple and an R.B.I., Langerhans was 0 for 1 and Austin Ryan Kearns went 1 for 4 with an R.B.I.

Felipe Lopez was 0 for 2 but walked twice, and he did drive in the winning run on that sacrifice. Jésus Flores went 3 for 4 with that far leftfield homer and 2 R.B.I.'s.

One of the lighter moments came late in the game when Tony Batista was hit by a pitch by Micah Owings. Batista appeared to begin to charge the mound, but was only taking his normal, circuitous route to first base. It momentarily alarmed the D-Backs catcher, who then broke an embarrassed smile, and Don Sutton on MASN explained that this was what Batista does, and I recalled seeing him do this on YouTube, where he scares the hell out of a pitcher in Japan who hit him with a pitch.

It's nice to end a roadtrip with a win, especially having lost two in a row, and so many to the D-Backs all season. Now they have a day off to come home and face familiar foes at home in the form of the Phillies and the Mets, both teams with October ambitions. Once again, the Nationals find themselves a game behind the Marlins, and in the cellar of the National League East.

It was a bittersweet moment last week when the Nationals briefly took 4th place all to themselves. Ryan Zimmerman observed that this was the first time in his major league career that he was on a team that wasn't in last place in the division. It made him so happy, I felt badly for him that they couldn't hold that for him, but there are still many games left to play, and perhaps the Nats can fulfill MY pre-season wish of just finishing ahead of the Marlins.

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