Nats taken to extras, but outlast Phils
Lopez's sac fly the winner after Bergmann's strong start
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals had trouble scoring against the Phillies on Wednesday night. How bad was it? They were 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left 13 men on base.
Washington, however, managed to pull out the victory, as Felipe Lopez's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 13th inning helped the Nationals defeat the Phillies, 5-4, in front of 18,584 fans at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
But while Lopez converted, take the bottom of the seventh inning as a reflection of some of Washington's struggles offensively. The Nationals had a 4-3 lead with the bases loaded and nobody out, but Philadelphia reliever Geoff Geary got Lopez to fly out to left field and induced Ronnie Belliard to hit into a double play to end the inning.
The frame set off some alarms for Washington manager Manny Acta before Lopez made the struggles a little easier to take.
"I guess the odds are against you if you continue to fail and fail. I just felt that the seventh inning was the big blow for us," Acta said. "We had the bases loaded and no outs. If you can't score in those situations and put teams away, you are not going to win many ballgames."
The Nationals did in this instance, and have now won three out of the last four games to improve to 5-10.
Phillies right-hander Francisco Rosario was on the mound when Lopez broke the 4-4 tie. With runners on second and third and no outs, Lopez hit a fly ball to medium left field. Michael Bourn caught the ball, but his throw to the plate was weak, and it allowed Chris Snelling to score the winning run.
"Getting the sacrfice fly was all I was thinking about. I wasn't thinking about getting the base hit. I was trying to hit it up in the air to end the game," Lopez said.
After Snelling touched home plate, the players mobbed Lopez and playfully started punching him. Lopez starting running toward the third base to avoid the mob, but his teammates were able to get to him again.
"They tried to crush me and started hitting me," said a happy Lopez. "It's nice to win as a team. This is great. This is what it's all about. Doing the little things and doing it as a team."
Long man Levale Speigner picked up his first Major league victory, but the real pitching hero was starter Jason Bergmann, who had his second consecutive quality start. He lasted 6 1/3 innings and gave up three earned runs on five hits; two of his charged runs werea llowed by reliever Saul Rivera.
After giving up an RBI double to Phillies right-hander Adam Eaton in the second inning, Bergmann was lights-out, retiring the next 13 hitters he faced.
"It's not lost. The kid did an outstanding job. I feel bad that the kid could not get a victory for that effort," Acta said.
Bergmann was considered a long shot to make the team out of Spring Training because of his inconsistent 2006 campaign. However, Bergmann pitched well enough to be placed on the 25-man roster.
There was trouble ahead, though. During his last exhibition outing and his first start of the regular season, Bergmann had a tough time throwing strikes. But since being scolded by general manager Jim Bowden for not throwing enough strikes, Bergmann has been the Nationals' second best starter after Shawn Hill.
"It's fastball command," Bergmann said. "I was able to throw fastballs over the strike zone. That's what they teach here. [Pitching coach Randy] St. Claire told us to pound the strike zone. Off the fastball, you could use the curve ball. My stuff wasn't fantastic today, but I was able to throw the fastball continually over the plate."
Bergmann left the game in the seventh inning after giving up a double to Aaron Rowand to put runners on second and third and one out.
After the Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, catcher Brian Schneider put the Nationals ahead with a three-run homer off Eaton.
The Nationals made it a 4-1 game in the third inning, when Dmitri Young drove in Lopez with a sacrifice fly to center.
The Phillies made it a one-run game in the seventh when Greg Dobbs singled to right off Rivera to drive in two runs, both charged to Bergmann.
But the Phillies tied the game in the ninth inning off Chad Cordero. With runners on second and third and one out, Carlos Ruiz grounded out, but Bourn scored on the play.
Cordero missed out on a chance to get his second save of the season.
"Right now, I'm fine because we got the win," Cordero said. "Today, I got away from my game plan. I wasn't throwing strikes."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.