WASHINGTON -- The big hit the Yankees waited half the game for finally arrived in the 14th inning on Saturday, as Mark Teixeira saw the slider he was sitting on and loudly banged it into the right-field corner.
As Teixeira ripped off his batting gloves and screamed to celebrate his go-ahead two-run double, a blow that lifted the Bombers to a 5-3 victory over the Nationals, the sensations the Yankees slugger said he exuded were ones of exhaustion and relief.
"When you're fighting like that, scratching and clawing and not really getting anything -- when hits are really hard to come by -- that win feels really good," Teixeira said.
Rafael Soriano nailed down the final three outs to preserve a victory for nearly forgotten long man Freddy Garcia, who pitched two scoreless innings, as the Yankees posted their eighth straight victory -- and one they really had to scrap to get. It was the first time this season that the Bombers won a game without hitting a home run.
"Just find a way. Find a way to get it done," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "That's what our guys did. The bullpen was tremendous -- they stepped up and only gave up one run over seven innings. You get big hits, get big performances out of people. Our bullpen was great today. They found a way."
Washington had the winning run 90 feet away in the 13th inning and two men on in the 14th, but Garcia wriggled free both times, flashing poise despite having pitched just once since May 22.
"I love that situation," Garcia said. "I like being in the pressure. I love that. I've been there a long time. Because I'm in the bullpen, I don't change my mind. I've got to go in there and throw strikes and make it happen."
After six innings of three-run ball from starter Jordan Zimmermann, four Washington relievers kept the Yankees hitless after Eric Chavez's sixth-inning RBI double. That changed in the 14th, as Jayson Nix and Derek Jeter opened the inning with hits off Brad Lidge.
Sitting slider, Teixeira's one-out drive off Lidge rattled off against the right-field wall, representing just the Yankees' second hit of the afternoon with runners in scoring position.
"That was exhausting. Give their pitchers a lot of credit," Teixeira said. "I can see why that team's in first place. Every reliever they brought in was as dirty as the next; not a lot of hits out there to get. We kept fighting."
Teixeira's go-ahead hit accounted for the game's first scoring since Ian Desmond's eighth-inning homer off Cory Wade, sticking Andy Pettitte with a no-decision after seven strong innings of two-run ball.
Washington nearly took the lead off Wade in the eighth, but Dewayne Wise unloaded a strong throw to home plate on an Adam LaRoche single that nailed Tyler Moore.
"The ball wasn't hit hard," Wise said. "I told myself, if I got a one-hopper or hard ground ball, I was going home with it. That's what I did."
Wise chuckled that he'd heard from teammates that umpire Tim Timmons might have missed the call, but the Yankees certainly didn't mind.
"It was unbelievable. I thought we were going to go 25 innings," Wise said. "I was looking in the bullpen thinking I might have to come in and throw an inning or two."
Preceding six New York relievers, Pettitte turned in a commanding performance one day after his 40th birthday, though he said that he "was pretty gassed" after 95 pitches.
He notched his third straight quality start, holding Washington to two runs and five hits as he surpassed Livan Hernandez for the all-time lead with his 52nd career Interleague start.
Pettitte was touched for three broken-bat hits in the outing, including Jesus Flores' booming two-run double to the left-field wall in the second inning, but he saved his most impressive work for Bryce Harper. The lefty struck out the 19-year-old in each of his first three at-bats, discovering a weakness for his darting cutters.
"I thought he probably was really amped up when he came in against Pettitte," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "I've never seen him swing at balls out of the zone, and he was chasing balls."
Pettitte struck out six and walked three, and Harper went on to strike out five times in the game for the dreaded platinum sombrero.
"He's a real aggressive hitter," Pettitte said. "I had a good cutter going, and he was swinging and missing at them early. You try to throw some balls in to him in that first at-bat, and after that, I just tried to expand the zone off of him."
As luck would have it, the Nationals had one last crack to win the game in the 14th, and Harper stepped in with the chance for redemption. But he just got confirmation that this would be a game to forget, grounding out against Soriano representing the winning run.
"It's like one of those storybook endings. You're hoping it wasn't going to be," Teixeira said. "Give Sori credit; he made a good pitch and got him out. That would have been too good to be true, for Harper to hit a walk-off right there. The place might have fallen down."