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Archive for Monday, September 5, 2005

Nationals tickled after victory

Loaiza’s 128-pitch masterpiece keeps Washington in thick of wild-card race

September 5, 2005

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— Esteban Loaiza threw a 92 mph fastball past Pat Burrell on his 128th and final pitch Sunday, then crouched and pumped his right fist twice.

An inning later, a white towel draped over his shoulders, Loaiza led his Washington Nationals teammates out of the dugout for high-fives and back slaps to celebrate a 6-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

When the Nationals filed into their clubhouse, this was written in capital letters on the message board near the doorway: "The fun has begun!"

Yes, somehow, some way, those ex-Expos still are playing - and winning - meaningful games as the calendar turns to Labor Day.

Loaiza struck out 11 and took a shutout into the eighth on short rest, and Preston Wilson and Brian Schneider each hit a three-run homer as Washington gained a game on all three teams it trails in the NL wild-card standings.

"They had a chance to knock us out, as I've said, and they didn't do it," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "So we're getting our second wind, it looks like."

What an 18-hour turnaround it was for a club whose apparent lack of focus prompted Robinson to institute a clubhouse ban on stereo music, card playing and cell phones.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, is hurting.

"It hurts just like it did last night. A loss is a loss," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, whose club went 6-6 on its longest road trip of the season.

"Our destiny is in our hands. If we're going to win the East or be a wild-card team, now's the time to step up. Right now we're kind of even, so we're going to see how good we are."

Cardinals 4, Astros 1

Houston - Jason Marquis pitched his second straight complete game, and Jim Edmonds hit a go-ahead, two-run double as St. Louis kept Houston from taking over the wild-card lead.

Marquis (11-13) lost seven straight starts before a two-hit shutout in his last appearance, Aug. 27 at Washington. The right-hander limited Houston to five hits with five strikeouts.

Mets 7, Marlins 1

Miami - Jae Seo pitched seven strong innings, Cliff Floyd hit a two-run homer, and New York salvaged the finale of its three-game series against Florida.

Seo (7-1) limited the Marlins to one run and five hits.

A.J. Burnett (12-9) consistently threw 96 or 97 mph and still lost his third consecutive start. He struck out nine but allowed eight hits and departed the game trailing by the score of 5-1.

Reds 8, Braves 3 (12)

Atlanta - Jason LaRue's pinch-hit grand slam capped a five-run 12th inning, and Ken Griffey Jr. connected before getting injured to help Cincinnati end a five-game losing streak with a victory over Atlanta.

Brewers 3, Padres 2

Milwaukee - Brady Clark's suicide squeeze scored pinch-runner Corey Hart in the ninth inning, giving Milwaukee a victory over San Diego.

Wes Helms hit a leadoff single against Akinori Otsuka (1-6).

Hart ran for Helms and stole second, then moved to third on Chad Moeller's sacrifice fly.

Cubs 2, Pirates 0

Pittsburgh - Nomar Garciaparra homered, Jerome Williams pitched four-hit ball into the eighth inning, and Chicago beat Pittsburgh to complete a three-game sweep.

Williams (5-7), who had lost four of five decisions and got only five outs in his previous start against the Dodgers, walked two and struck out five in 71â3 innings.

Giants 3, D'backs 2

Phoenix - Matt Cain allowed three hits in seven innings for his first win, Randy Winn scored twice and drove in a run, and San Francisco beat Arizona for its fifth straight victory.

Winn, who homered twice in the Giants' 9-4 victory Saturday, was 3-for-4 with a double and a triple. San Francisco moved within 51â2 games of first-place San Diego in the NL West.

Rockies 7, Dodgers 6 (10)

Denver - Brad Hawpe drove in the winning run with a one-out single in the 10th inning, and Colorado completed a three-game sweep of Los Angeles.

Jeff Kent hit his 13th career grand slam, and Jason Phillips drove in two runs for the Dodgers.

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