Nationals 7, Diamondbacks 6

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PHOENIX (AP)—Washington second baseman Jose Vidro sought out manager Frank Robinson recently.

Vidro wanted Robinson to know that he was no longer bothered by the hamstring injury that sidelined him for a month.

“The season’s not over until the last game,” Vidro said. “I told Frank the other day I want to finish strong and I want you to play me more often now. He listened and I’m glad he did.”

Vidro drove in four runs to help the Nationals edge the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-6 on Monday night. He drew a bases-loaded walk from Luis Vizcaino (4-5) to put the Nationals ahead in the ninth inning. Vidro also doubled home a run in the fourth and hit a two-run single in the seventh as Washington won for only the second time in 13 road games.

“He’s swinging the bat much better, swinging with more authority,” Robinson said of the 31-year-old Vidro, who raised his average to .295. “He’s getting some big hits for us.”

Jon Rauch (4-4) allowed two runs in two innings for the win and Chad Cordero pitched the ninth for his 25th save.

The Nationals have been out of playoff contention for weeks. But they refused to quit after the Diamondbacks put them in an early 3-0 hole on solo home runs by Conor Jackson, Chris Snyder and Chris Young.

It would have been easy for Washington to fold after being swept in four games at Coors Field over the weekend. Instead, the Nationals fought back with a four-run seventh inning to take a 6-4 lead.

Then, after Arizona tied the game at 6 on Damion Easley’s two-run homer in the eighth, the Nationals rebounded in the ninth.

“It was a good win for us,” Robinson said. “We need those wins. We have to finish off the season very respectable.”

Washington defeated Arizona for the fourth time in four meetings. And the franchise is 14-2 against Arizona since 2004, when the Nationals played in Montreal.

The loss dropped the Diamondbacks to 68-76 with 18 games remaining. Barring a late surge, Arizona will finish with a losing record for the third straight season, the worst stretch in the nine-year history of the franchise. Arizona posted five consecutive winning records from 1999-2003.

For the Diamondbacks, this loss evoked memories of a three-game sweep at RFK Stadium from Sept. 2-3. Arizona blew late leads in all three games.

“It was similar to some of those games in D.C.,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s a good feeling early on, we score some runs (and) were hitting the ball out of the ballpark, and all of a sudden one big inning gets us, and today it was the seventh.”

With 45 home runs and 39 stolen bases, Washington’s Alfonso Soriano came into the game needing one steal to become the fourth player in major league history with 40 homers and 40 steals in a season. After drawing a leadoff walk in the third, Soriano was picked off first by Arizona starter Claudio Vargas.

Vargas, waived by the Nationals in June 2005, issued six of Arizona’s 10 walks. The last one proved the costliest.

With the score tied at 6 in the ninth, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Zimmerman greeted Vizcaino with singles and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.

After Vizcaino walked Austin Kearns intentionally, Vidro drew a walk to force in the go-ahead run.

It wasn’t the prettiest win. But it showed that the Nationals haven’t given up.

“It’s going to be good for us to go out there and show that we’re capable of being a winning ballclub, and that we’ve got guys that have heart and want to go out there and play every day,” Rauch said.


LF Soriano threw out Orlando Hudson at second base to pick up his major league-best 20th outfield assist. … Washington 1B Nick Johnson has reached base safely in 20 of his last 21 games.

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