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RFK is A-OK as Nats wrap up 12-1 homestand

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- After meeting on the infield grass for high-fives and back slaps in celebration of their 10th straight victory, the Washington Nationals looked into the stands at RFK Stadium and saw most of the 37,170 spectators on their feet, applauding.

Several players clapped right back -- making for matching standing ovations -- and manager Frank Robinson doffed his cap.

Home, sweet home, indeed. It's tough to tell who's enjoying the Nationals' success more, the team that felt as if it didn't have a true home the past couple of seasons, or the fans who waited 34 years for a major-league club to call their own.

The Nationals completed a 12-1 homestand by beating the Seattle Mariners 3-2 Sunday, thanks mainly to Junior Spivey's two-run homer and five trying but scoreless innings from Tony Armas Jr.

"It's been a long time coming. We feel energized by our situation now," outfielder Brad Wilkerson said. "To walk off and know they recognize what we do is just a great feeling."

Washington stretched its winning streak to 10 games, tying a franchise record and setting a high for the NL this season. The team has swept three straight series and four overall; as the Montreal Expos, the team had three sweeps in all of 2004.

After two years of being forced to play a portion of its "home" schedule in Puerto Rico, the club has taken to its new digs quite well, going 24-9 at home, a .727 winning percentage that's the best in baseball.

Robinson and his players have no doubts that some of the credit goes to the fans. In Montreal, the team averaged less than 10,000 fans per game last season. The Nationals topped 1 million spectators for the year Saturday night, and adding in Sunday's crowd made for the largest season attendance in D.C. baseball history.

"The support has been tremendous," Robinson said. "I don't think anybody could have foreseen this."

He was referring to the big crowds in a city that lost its two previous major-league teams. But he also could have been talking about his team's play.

Last season's Expos lost 95 games and finished 29 back in the standings. More than two months into the season, Washington is 37-26, with a 1½-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East.

"Everything that goes in a game is bouncing their way," Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said, "and to their credit, they are taking advantage of it."

Ryan Franklin (2-8) took the loss, giving up all of Washington's runs on six hits plus three walks in five innings. Spivey's sixth homer of the season -- and first hit since joining Washington in a trade with Milwaukee on Friday -- came in the second, and Jamey Carroll drove in the other run on a bloop single in the fourth.

Armas (3-3) gave up five hits and three walks, but had six strikeouts and got plenty of help from Seattle's batters, whose woes in the clutch continued.

The Mariners left two men on in each of the first four innings, and they went 0-for-10 overall with runners in scoring position.

"We burned a lot of runs at third base with less than two outs," Hargrove said.

Armas never had a 1-2-3 inning and needed 90 pitches just to get the first 12 outs. He left after throwing 107.

"That was, I guess, the glue that held us together -- him giving us that effort today," Robinson said.

After Gary Majewski replaced Armas and gave up RBI doubles by pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs in the sixth and Raul Ibanez in the seventh, Luis Ayala got four outs and gave way to Chad Cordero for his 19th save.

It was Washington's 16th one-run victory.

"We are good at those games," Vinny Castilla said. "Good teams do that."

Notes

  • Seattle OF Ichiro Suzuki entered the game one hit shy of 1,000 for his career and went 0-for-5, dropping his average to .295. He hadn't been below .300 since May 12, 2004. "If I was satisfied with my hitting right now, I'd have to quit baseball," Suzuki said through a translator.
  • Mariners 3B Adrian Beltre doubled twice before leaving in the fifth inning with tightness in his left hamstring. Hargrove said he could be out a few days.
  • Armas singled in the third, his first hit since April 5, 2003.
 
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Reliever Chad Cordero and the Nationals are happy to finally have a home-field advantage.  (Getty Images)
Reliever Chad Cordero and the Nationals are happy to finally have a home-field advantage. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Washington

T. Armas
IP 5.0
H 5
ER 0
BB 3
K 6
Washington

J. Spivey
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 

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Seattle Mariners
Ichiro Suzuki, RF5000006 .295
Jeremy Reed, CF4110103 .259
Adrian Beltre, 3B2020000 .244
    Dave Hansen, 3B3000011 .154
Richie Sexson, 1B5010024 .244
Raul Ibanez, LF3011103 .295
Mike Morse, SS4000034 .333
Willie Bloomquist, 2B4120010 .207
Rene Rivera, C4010011 .421
Ryan Franklin, P1000101 .000
   a- Greg Dobbs, PH1011000 .176
    Julio Mateo, P0000000 .000
   b- Randy Winn, PH1010000 .310
    Jeff Nelson, P0000000 .000
Totals3721023823 
a-doubled for Franklin in the 6th
b-singled for Mateo in the 8th
Batting
2B - Adrian Beltre 2 (13, Armas, Armas), Raul Ibanez (16, Majewski), Rene Rivera (2, Armas), Greg Dobbs (3, Majewski)
RBI - Raul Ibanez (33), Greg Dobbs (5)
2-OUT RBI - Raul Ibanez (17)
PK - Greg Dobbs (1, Majewski)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
DP - Bloomquist-Morse-Sexson
E - Mike Morse (3, Misplayed grounder)
Seattle Mariners
Ryan Franklin (L,2-8) 5633351 4.81
Julio Mateo 2000120 3.12
Jeff Nelson 1000010 3.05
IBB - N. Johnson by Ryan Franklin
Pitches-Strikes - Ryan Franklin 83-54, Julio Mateo 34-21, Jeff Nelson 13-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ryan Franklin 3-6, Julio Mateo 1-4
Batters Faced - Ryan Franklin 23, Julio Mateo 8, Jeff Nelson 3
Washington Nationals
Brad Wilkerson, CF2010200 .279
Ryan Church, LF3000114 .326
Jose Guillen, RF4000014 .285
Nick Johnson, 1B3110103 .335
Vinny Castilla, 3B4110013 .274
Junior Spivey, 2B4112031 .234
Brian Schneider, C4000001 .242
Jamey Carroll, SS3011011 .250
    Cristian Guzman, SS0000000 .192
Tony Armas, P2010001 .077
    Gary Majewski, P1000011 .000
    Luis Ayala, P0000000 .000
    Chad Cordero, P0000000 .000
Totals303634819 
Batting
2B - Brad Wilkerson (23, Franklin), Nick Johnson (17, Franklin)
HR - Junior Spivey (6, Franklin)
RBI - Junior Spivey 2 (19), Jamey Carroll (8)
2-OUT RBI - Jamey Carroll (3)
SB - Vinny Castilla (4, 2nd base off Franklin/Rivera)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
E - Tony Armas (2, Missed catch)
Washington Nationals
Tony Armas (W,3-3) 5500360 4.32
Gary Majewski (H,10) 1.2422010 2.48
Luis Ayala (H,11) 1.1100010 2.37
Chad Cordero (S,19) 1000000 1.13
WP - Tony Armas (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Tony Armas 107-70, Gary Majewski 30-22, Luis Ayala 15-11, Chad Cordero 7-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tony Armas 5-5, Gary Majewski 1-2, Luis Ayala 1-2, Chad Cordero 2-1
Batters Faced - Tony Armas 24, Gary Majewski 8, Luis Ayala 5, Chad Cordero 3
Game Information
Attendance - 37170
Game Time - 3:16
Temperature - 89
Umpires - Home - Tim Timmons, First Base - Tim McClelland, Second Base - Chuck Meriwether, Third Base - Mike Everitt