Friday, August 19, 2005

MLB: Nationals 5, Philadelphia Phillies 4 (August 18, Game 2)

WP: Luis Ayala (8-6)
LP: Ugueth Urbina (3-1)
S: Chad Cordero (39)

WAS: 64-57 (3rd in NL East, 5 behind Atlanta, 0.5 behind Philadelphia, 0.5 ahead of Florida, 2.5 ahead of New York; 0.5 behind Philadelphia for Wild Card)

For much of yesterday's doubleheader, it looked like the Nationals were going to be swept and lose ground on both the Phillies and the Astros in the Wild Card race -- but then the Nats offense changed that in the eight inning of the second game.

After falling behind 4-0 with Ryan Drese pitching, the Nationals scored three runs in the fifth inning on a two-run double by Jose Vidro and a one-run double by Nick Johnson to cut the lead to 4-3. The score stayed that way until the eighth, when set-up man Ugueth Urbina came in for the Phillies. Urbina gave up a leadoff double to Jose Guillen, and with one out, Preston Wilson singled him home and advanced to second on the throw to the plate. The next batter, Carlos Baerga, did the same, and the Nationals took a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth.

Mike Stanton got the first out in the eighth for the Nats, but gave up a single to Bobby Abreu, which prompted Frank Robinson to bring in the Chief, Chad Cordero, to get five outs for the save. Cordero got Pat Burrell to ground into the double play to end the eighth, then pitched a three-up, three-down ninth to record his 39th save.

The Nats head to New York to start a three-game set with the last-place Mets tonight at 7:10. John Patterson (7-3, 2.44 ERA, throws right) starts for the Nationals, facing Jae Seo (4-1, 1.35 ERA, throws right).

THOUGHTS:
Well, I was right for doubting Ryan Drese in a big game, but the Nationals bats and bullpen came through to get them a much-needed win anyway.

Down 4-0, it looked like the Nats were doomed to lose, because they don't score four runs in a game all that often, let alone four runs in five innings after falling behind 4-0. But some two-out hits in the fifth and clutch hitting in the eighth earned Washington the win and kept them within a half game of the Wild Card lead.

The Nationals now look to take the Wild Card lead when they play three against the Mets this weekend. Unfortunately, Houston and Philly get weak opponents in Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, respectively.

Tonight the Nats take on Jae Seo, an excellent pitcher from South Korea who has posted an incredible 1.35 ERA in five starts this season. Luckily, the Nats will send stud John Patterson to the hill, who boasts a 2.44 ERA.

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