May 14, 2011, 5:12 AM EDT
Associated Press photo
Omar Infante’s nifty slide around Wilson Ramos proved the difference tonight.
The Nationals don’t play a lot of lopsided games these days. No, every contest seems to come down to one or two critical moments late. A big at-bat with runners in scoring position. A 3-2 pitch from a reliever in a tight spot. A drive to the warning track that puts pressure on an outfielder to make or miss the catch. A bang-bang play on the bases.
And then on Friday night, all of the above — and more — converged during one epic ballgame that felt like it should have resulted in a Nationals victory yet ultimately left a bitter taste in the home team’s mouths.
“A ballgame like that, I hate to lose that game,” manager Jim Riggleman said following the 6-5, 11-inning loss to the Marlins. “I know they’re agonizing over it. But that was good baseball.”
Indeed, it’s tough to place blame on anyone for this loss. Sure, the Nationals could have used a clutch hit from Adam LaRoche with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth instead of a weak grounder to second. And sure, a better showing from left-hander Tom Gorzelanny (who lasted only 4 2/3 innings) might have put less strain on already overtaxed bullpen and not forced Riggleman to use rookie Brian Broderick during the fateful 11th.
But there were far more positives than negatives, from the Nationals’ perspective, during this game. Laynce Nix’s three hits, including a game-tying double in the eighth. Drew Storen’s dominant two innings of relief, extending his streak of scoreless innings to 20. And, of course, Roger Bernadina’s Play of the Year on a drive to deep center.
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