Aug 18, 2013, 3:00 AM EST
|USA Today Sports Images|
ATLANTA — Their starting pitcher had departed some 4 1/2 hours earlier, ejected after plunking a batter in the first inning and then losing all semblance of his command in the second. Their manager had been ejected, too, not to mention their left fielder later in the evening.
Eight relievers (one of them actually a starter) had cobbled together 14 innings of work, though the last six of those innings wouldn’t have been necessary had their closer recorded one more out in the bottom of the ninth.
Their star 20-year-old, scratched from the lineup earlier in the day with a bruised left triceps muscle after getting drilled by a pitch the previous night, had been forced into action late.
Then again, pretty much everyone in uniform was forced into action for this 5-hour, 29-minute marathon, with 44 of the 50 active players on the two rosters appearing in the game.
So when it finally ended, when Adam LaRoche had homered in the top of the 15th and Dan Haren had pitched the bottom of the inning — in the rain — to earn the first save of his 11-year career, the Nationals could only sit back and enjoy the feeling that comes only after you pull off an 8-7 victory over your fiercest rivals.
“Golly,” LaRoche sighed. “What a battle.”
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