It had been quite some time since the Nationals won like that, quite some time since they looked so happy as a group.
"We haven't had any dramatic wins -- not one -- in the second half," manager Frank Robinson said.
"You almost could have pulled the plug on the life support," Robinson said. "It probably would have been pretty close to the season, really."
Instead, Washington moved within three games of wild-card leader Philadelphia, with a chance to cut that to two in the series finale Sunday. The Nationals also moved past the New York Mets for fourth place in the NL East.
"You know, we can make a game interesting," said first baseman Brad Wilkerson, who made a key throw home for a forceout to help reliever Gary Majewski get out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 11th.
Wilson's hit off Aquilino Lopez (0-1) after Guillen walked, then advanced on a passed ball -- made a winner of Hector Carrasco (4-3). He threw a perfect 12th, although Bobby Abreu hit a drive to center field that Wilson caught with his back against the wall.
"I thought that might go," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Before the game, Robinson said for the first time that he didn't think his club could win the division title, and he didn't sound too optimistic about the wild card, either. Bemoaning the team's poor record since early July and a sudden dip in clubhouse chemistry, Robinson sighed and said, "Seemed like just yesterday we were having fun."
But Washington pulled out a win right when things looked bleakest.
The Nationals scored two runs in the first off Eude Brito, who was making his second major-league start, and two unearned runs in the eighth off reliever Ryan Madson. So Cordero needed three outs to notch what would have been his franchise-record 44th save.
Instead, he blew a save for the fifth time this season, allowing three straight hits to start the inning: Pat Burrell's single, and the homers.
"He's picked us up all year," Wilson said about Cordero. "It's time for us to pick him up a little bit."
Said Bell: "You always feel like you're going to win, especially after you come back and tie it like that."
Cordero's slip-up wasted a solid start by John Patterson, who rebounded from his shortest outing of the season to limit Philadelphia to one run and five hits over 7 2/3 innings.
Patterson allowed Burrell's 28th homer in the second inning, struck out eight and walked one. After giving up two-out hits in the eighth to Jimmy Rollins and Kenny Lofton -- putting runners at second and third -- the right-hander was lifted and walked off to a standing ovation.
Left-hander Joey Eischen came on and promptly walked Chase Utley to load the bases. But Eischen struck out Abreu on three pitches. After their power display in the ninth, the Phillies wasted another good chance in the 11th.
"The game was there for us," Manuel said, "and tonight we couldn't do it."
The Nationals did, winning the kind of close game that they excelled at early in the season but have been losing since the All-Star break, hastening their slide down the standings.
"If we lost that game, it was going to be a different atmosphere here tomorrow," Guillen said. "I don't know where we were going to go from there."
|Washington's Jose Guillen comes home to score the game-winning run in the 12th inning. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Jimmy Rollins, SS||6||0||1||0||0||0||6||.261|
|Kenny Lofton, CF||6||0||1||0||0||3||3||.308|
|Chase Utley, 2B||5||0||0||0||1||2||0||.287|
|Bobby Abreu, RF||5||0||0||0||1||2||3||.296|
|Pat Burrell, LF||4||1||2||1||0||1||0||.284|
|Shane Victorino, PR-LF||1||1||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|Aaron Fultz, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.333|
|a- Ramon Martinez, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.270|
|Aquilino Lopez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Ryan Howard, 1B||5||1||2||2||0||2||0||.288|
|David Bell, 3B||5||1||2||1||0||0||1||.247|
|Todd Pratt, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.252|
|Eude Brito, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.000|
|b- Michael Tucker, PH||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.241|
|Geoff Geary, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.200|
|c- Tomas Perez, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.248|
|Ryan Madson, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|d- Jason Michaels, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.312|
|Ugueth Urbina, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Endy Chavez, LF||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.218|
|a-struck out for Fultz in the 12th|
|b-walked for Brito in the 5th|
|c-struck out for Geary in the 8th|
|d-grounded out for Madson in the 9th|
|2B - David Bell (27, Majewski)|
|HR - Pat Burrell (28, Patterson), Ryan Howard (13, C. Cordero), David Bell (8, C. Cordero)|
|RBI - Pat Burrell (98), Ryan Howard 2 (39), David Bell (51)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|Outfield Assists - Pat Burrell 1|
|PB - Todd Pratt 2 (5)|
|E - Ryan Howard (5, Missed catch)|
|Aquilino Lopez (L,0-1)||0.1||1||1||0||1||0||0||0.96|
|HBP - Wilkerson (by Eude Brito)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Eude Brito 70-45, Geoff Geary 35-21, Ryan Madson 17-12, Ugueth Urbina 20-10, Aaron Fultz 21-12, Aquilino Lopez 10-4|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Eude Brito 4-5, Geoff Geary 6-2, Ryan Madson 4-0, Ugueth Urbina 1-0, Aaron Fultz 4-1, Aquilino Lopez 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Eude Brito 19, Geoff Geary 10, Ryan Madson 6, Ugueth Urbina 5, Aaron Fultz 6, Aquilino Lopez 3|
|Brad Wilkerson, RF-1B||5||0||1||0||0||1||1||.250|
|Deivi Cruz, SS||5||1||1||0||1||0||2||.263|
|Nick Johnson, 1B||1||0||0||0||1||0||2||.286|
|Rick Short, 1B||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Jose Guillen, RF||2||1||0||0||1||0||0||.303|
|Preston Wilson, CF||6||1||2||2||0||1||2||.257|
|Vinny Castilla, 3B||5||1||1||0||0||0||0||.249|
|Marlon Byrd, LF||4||1||2||2||1||2||0||.263|
|Gary Bennett, C||5||0||1||1||0||1||3||.236|
|Jamey Carroll, 2B||5||0||0||0||0||0||2||.241|
|John Patterson, P||3||0||2||0||0||0||0||.122|
|Joey Eischen, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.333|
|Chad Cordero, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Brandon Watson, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.190|
|Gary Majewski, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Tony Blanco, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.190|
|Hector Carrasco, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-struck out for C. Cordero in the 9th|
|b-fouled out for Majewski in the 11th|
|2B - Deivi Cruz (11, Brito), Preston Wilson (27, Brito), John Patterson (3, Brito)|
|RBI - Preston Wilson 2 (74), Marlon Byrd 2 (19), Gary Bennett (18)|
|2-OUT RBI - Marlon Byrd 2 (8), Gary Bennett (9)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|Joey Eischen (H,6)||0.1||0||0||0||1||1||0||3.25|
|Chad Cordero (BS,5)||1||3||3||3||0||0||2||1.32|
|Hector Carrasco (W,4-3)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||2.02|
|HBP - Pratt (by Gary Majewski)|
|Pitches-Strikes - John Patterson 119-81, Joey Eischen 8-4, Chad Cordero 22-15, Gary Majewski 42-26, Hector Carrasco 15-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Patterson 9-6, Chad Cordero 1-2, Gary Majewski 3-0|
|Batters Faced - John Patterson 29, Joey Eischen 2, Chad Cordero 6, Gary Majewski 10, Hector Carrasco 3|
|Attendance - 30561|
|Game Time - 3:56|
|Temperature - 79|
|Umpires - Home - Ed Montague, First Base - Chris Guccione, Second Base - Jerry Layne, Third Base - Paul Emmel|