Phillies rally to beat Nationals 7-5 in 14 after bullpen blows lead

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Ryan Howard watched his ball soar into the upper deck before trotting around the bases, a fitting ending after Jimmy Rollins’ exciting romp to the plate sent the game into extra innings.

Howard’s two-run homer in the 14th inning gave the Philadelphia Phillies a 7-5 victory over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.

Rollins bailed out Philadelphia’s bullpen by circling the bases with two outs in the ninth inning and the Phillies won their fifth straight game.

“This game had everything except a fight,” manager Charlie Manuel said.

Chris Booker (0-1) walked Chase Utley starting the bottom of the 14th. Howard then drove a 2-2 pitch into the second deck in right field for his 28th homer. It was his second career game-ending homer.

“I went up there trying to hit something in the gap and I hit it out of the ballpark,” Howard said.

The reigning NL MVP is batting .313 with 22 homers and 60 RBIs since coming off the disabled list on May 25.

“I’m just trying to be consistent, trying not to swing at bad pitches,” he said.

The Phillies trailed 5-4 after Antonio Alfonseca blew a two-run lead in the ninth. Nationals closer Chad Cordero retired the first two batters in the bottom half of the inning before Rollins hit a liner to left-center.

Left fielder Ryan Church and center fielder Ryan Langerhans converged on the ball, but it bounced off Church’s glove. Rollins stopped at third base, but took off when Church’s relay throw skipped away from shortstop Felipe Lopez. Rollins slid headfirst safely at home as Lopez’s throw went past catcher Brian Schneider.

Church got the only error on the play for his errant relay toss and Rollins had his 12th triple.

“I lost the game,” Church said.

Clay Condrey (4-0) pitched three scoreless innings for the win. He struck out with one out and the bases loaded in the 12th.

Saul Rivera escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 12th and pitched three scoreless innings for the Nationals.

“We couldn’t catch a fly ball, couldn’t hit the relay man and it cost us,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said.

Before the wacky ninth, it appeared Cole Hamels was going to celebrate his bobblehead giveaway promotion by getting his 12th win. But the Nationals rallied against Alfonseca after Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless eighth.

Alfonseca left after Tony Batista’s RBI double cut the deficit to 4-3 and put runners on second and third. Mike Zagurski entered to face pinch-hitter Jesus Flores, who ripped a two-run double to put Washington ahead 5-4.

Alfonseca has eight saves in 12 chances since replacing injured closers Brett Myers and Tom Gordon, who warmed up but didn’t enter until pitching the 11th. Myers could return to the bullpen this weekend.

It wasn’t soon enough for the Phillies, who are trying to stay in contention despite a depleted pitching staff.

Hamels allowed two runs and six hits, striking out six in seven innings. The All-Star left-hander lost 1-0 to San Diego in his previous start.

“He pitched good,” Manuel said.

Control problems hurt Washington starter Matt Chico in the fourth inning. Shane Victorino doubled to start the inning. Then Chico hit Utley with a pitch and walked Howard to load the bases. After Aaron Rowand fouled out, Pat Burrell walked to force in the tying run. Wes Helms followed with a two-run single to make it 3-1.

Rowand’s two-out double to right in the fifth scored Victorino to give the Phillies a 4-1 lead.

Chico allowed four runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings.

Ronnie Belliard’s solo homer leading off the sixth cut it to 4-2. It was the 22nd homer allowed by Hamels this season.

Washington took a 1-0 lead on Lopez’s RBI single in the third.

Nook Logan appeared to take a homer away from Howard in the second inning when he caught the slugger’s towering drive to straightaway center with his back near the fence and glove above it.

Notes

Phillies OF Michael Bourn was caught stealing for the first time in 16 tries this season when Schneider nailed him at second base in the eighth. … Booker was sent to Triple-A Columbus after the game. LHP John Lannan (12-3 with a 2.35 ERA in the minors) will be recalled to make his major league debut for the Nationals on Thursday. Mike Bacsik, originally scheduled to pitch, was moved back to Friday. … Myers, sidelined since May 23 with a shoulder injury, threw a scoreless inning in his third rehab appearance with Class-A Clearwater. … The crowd of 44,931 was the 16th home sellout this season for the Phillies.

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