WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Frank Robinson thinks John Patterson deserves an assist for Washington's latest come-from-behind victory.
Patterson pitched five innings despite having his outing split by a rain delay of over two hours, and Jose Guillen hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth to lift Washington over the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 Wednesday night.
Umpires called for the grounds crew to cover the field with two outs in the third. Rain halted play for 2 hours, 8 minutes, but Patterson returned to the mound afterward.
"With him going out there and pitching five innings, at least it gave us a chance to keep the bullpen intact and use it down the stretch," Robinson said.
Patterson, who gave up two runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts, said he was getting stiff during the prolonged delay.
"If I would have stiffened up too much more, I don't know if I could have gone," he said. "But I felt like the team needed me to go out there and pitch."
Pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga started the decisive rally with a one-out single to center off Salomon Torres (2-3), who then walked Brad Wilkerson. After Junior Spivey struck out, Guillen hit a grounder to third that glanced off the foot of third baseman Rob Mackowiak and went into foul territory, allowing Baerga to score.
"We're a little lucky right now," Guillen said.
Mackowiak made a desperate attempt to stop Guillen's smash.
"The ball was hit so hard I only had half a step, so I tried to get my leg down. You try to do anything you can to stop the ball," Mackowiak said.
Travis Hughes worked a scoreless sixth, Gary Majewski the seventh and Luis Ayala (7-4) pitched the eighth for the victory, Washington's fifth in six games. It was the Nationals' 28th home victory, most in the majors.
Chad Cordero pitched the ninth for his 27th save -- 24th straight, breaking the franchise consecutive saves record established by Montreal's Mel Rojas in 1996.
"It's a good feeling to have that kind of record," Cordero said. "It feels even better because we're winning."
Washington has won 14 of 15 at RFK Stadium and improved to 17-5 in one-run games since May 8.
Mackowiak homered for Pittsburgh, which has dropped four of five. The Pirates fell to 7-17 in one-run contests.
"We just don't do what we need to do to win games," Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon said.
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the first off Dave Williams. The Nationals loaded the bases on Spivey's double, an error by Mackowiak and a walk to Vinny Castilla before Marlon Byrd's sacrifice fly.
Play was halted by a thunderstorm with two outs in the top of the third and Mackowiak batting.
The RFK Stadium grounds crew had difficulty covering the field. They could only stretch the canvas as far as the edge of the infield grass along the third-base line. The downpour erased the baseline and turned the exposed portion of the infield into a muddy mess.
After the grounds crew removed the tarp, it took more than an hour -- and more than two dozen bags of drying compound -- to prepare the field.
"They put it back in pretty good shape," Robinson said. "I don't think anyone complained about the footing."
When play resumed, the Pirates went ahead 2-1 on Mackowiak's homer off Patterson's first pitch. Matt Lawton, who had walked before the rain delay, also scored.
Ryan Vogelsong replaced Pirates starter Dave Williams in the bottom of the third, and gave up the tying run an inning later. Cristian Guzman tripled, Brad Wilkerson walked and Spivey was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Vogelsong then walked Guillen to force in a run.
- Pirates 2B Jose Castillo left the game in the sixth with mild chest pain related to asthma. He is expected to be available Thursday.
- Guillen's RBI in the fourth was the 500th of his career.
- Williams pitched two innings, giving up an unearned run on two hits, walking two and striking out three.
- Pittsburgh's Nate McLouth made his major-league debut as a pinch-hitter, popping out to center in the seventh.