Nationals 4, Devil Rays 3, 10 innings

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WASHINGTON (AP)—Nick Johnson was more excited about a rare win for the Washington Nationals then his first game-ending home run.

Johnson’s home run to right-center field with two outs in the 10th inning gave the Nationals a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

“We won the game, that’s the main thing,” Johnson said when asked what he was thinking about as he trotted around the bases. “I was excited.”

Johnson hit a 2-1 fastball from Brian Meadows (2-2) for his first home run since May 28, then was mobbed at home plate by his excited teammates. The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Nationals.

Gary Majewski pitched two scoreless innings of relief for Washington, and Chad Cordero (3-3) pitched a perfect 10th inning for the win, the Nationals’ second in 11 games.

“It’s nice to get a win, but I’m not relieved. One win doesn’t cure what ails us—we had chances to win this game before the 10th inning,” manager Frank Robinson said. “But it’s good to get a win.”

Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli and Aubrey Huff had three hits apiece for the Devil Rays. Tampa Bay stranded 12 runners on base and was 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

“We had chances early and didn’t take advantage of it,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “You always have a tendency to look at the end of the game to be the reason why you’ve lost, but it’s not necessarily true.”

Jose Guillen’s upper-deck home run to left-center field off Tampa Bay starter James Shields gave the Nationals a brief lead in the sixth inning, but Huff tied the game when he hit a home run to deep right field off Washington starter Livan Hernandez.

Hernandez battled a sore right knee but managed to stay out of big trouble. He worked his way out of most of his jams during his seven innings and 131 pitches, allowing only three runs despite giving up 10 hits and four walks.

He settled down after a 35-pitch first inning, when he allowed two runs and four hits, including Crawford’s one-out triple, Baldelli’s RBI single and Jorge Cantu’s sacrifice fly.

Tampa Bay starter James Shields had to work his way out of some trouble, allowing seven hits and a season-high four walks in six innings. The Nationals scored two runs in the first as Jose Vidro—batting leadoff for the first time in nearly four years—led off the game with a four-pitch walk and moved to second on a single by Royce Clayton. Vidro eventually scored on Johnson’s sacrifice fly, and Clayton scored on a single by Ryan Zimmerman to tie the game at 2.

Robinson indicated that he will likely stick with Vidro at leadoff for the time being.

“It was nice to get the leadoff hitter on, get somebody on base with nobody out,” Robinson said. “It seems like most of the time we get things going, it’s two outs or one out.”

Shields stayed out of trouble after that until the sixth, when he allowed his first career home run to Guillen.

The Nationals threatened in the eighth when Johnson led off with a double, but he was stranded at third.

The Devil Rays had first and second with none out in the ninth, but a double play and a flyout ended that threat.


C Robert Fick left the game after two innings because of mild gastrointestinal distress. … Before the game, the Nationals placed RHP Shawn Hill on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow and activated RHP Pedro Astacio. He will start Monday against Toronto. … Vidro’s last appearance as leadoff hitter was Aug. 16, 2002, for Montreal against San Diego, when he had two doubles in an 11-6 Expos win. … Marlon Anderson made his first career start in center field. … Huff has at least two hits in each of his last five games. He finished 3-for-5 and improved to .483 (29-for-60) in interleague play. … Zimmerman has a team-high 51 RBIs, first among rookies.

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