New York wins first two games of series at Nationals Park
The Nationals have quickly learned what it means to play on baseball's biggest stage.
Flying high headed into a weekend series with the New York Yankees, with six consecutive wins under its belt, Washington had no reason to think the good times wouldn't continue to roll. But for the second day in a row, New York showed that these aren't normal regular-season games -- though this time it took 14 innings to secure a 5-3 victory before another sellout crowd at Nationals Park.
Mark Teixeira drove in two runs in the top of the 14th inning with a double to right field off reliever Brad Lidge and that was the difference. The Yankees' bullpen allowed four batters to reach base over the final six innings -- one on a walk, an error and finally two singles in the 14th -- after Ian Desmond tied the game 3-3 with a solo homer in the eighth.
But two errors and a handful of other missed plays defensively put extra pressure on starter Jordan Zimmermann, who was at 79 pitches through four innings. In the end, he allowed three runs on five hits with three walks in six innings before giving way to the bullpen.
"Those are the times that you have to go out there and pick your teammates up and get out of jams like that when they do make a mistake," Zimmermann said.
After New York (39-25) took a two-run lead in the sixth off Zimmermann -- a ground out by Raul Ibanez and a double by Eric Chavez driving home the runs -- it mustered little at the plate, either. For seven innings in relief, Washington's bullpen walked five batters, but otherwise didn't allow a hit or a run. Craig Stammen, in particular, was excellent with three scoreless innings.
But in the 14th, singles by Jayson Nix and Derek Jeter set the stage. Lidge struck out Curtis Granderson, but Teixeira ripped a double down the line in right field to score two. In the bottom of the 14th, closer Rafael Soriano escaped a first-and-second, one-out jam by retiring Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper, who was a miserable 0-for-7 with five strikeouts in the worst game of his career so far. Frustrating?
"Not really that tough, to be honest," Desmond said. "We played a good ballgame, pitched good. ... I think if you were to come into it and say, 'Hey, we're gonna play 14 innings against the Yankees and there will only be  hits,' I think a lot of people would be surprised. But they just got the better of us again."
Yankees starter Andy Pettitte gave the Nats (38-25) fits all afternoon. The veteran lefty, who retired after the 2010 season, returned to the majors last month and has been brilliant so far. He gave up a two-run, broken-bat double to Jesus Flores in the second inning. Over the next five innings he allowed two walks and three singles, and no Washington runner reached scoring position.