WASHINGTON -- The game started 102 minutes late because of rain, then lasted 12 innings. It was past midnight when the 13th pitcher took the mound.
Pinch-hitter Robert Fick, the last position player available on Washington's bench, singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 12th Friday night for a 9-8 victory, capping a wild game that saw the Nationals blow a four-run lead and the Phillies falter after a five-run seventh.
"That would have been a bad one to lose," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said with eyes half-shut -- as if he were about to fall asleep standing at his locker. "Games like that, you want to win because you played so good for so long. You really need to win those games."
The Nationals used 21 players to keep their status as the hottest team in baseball. They have won eight of nine and are a major league-best 16-6 since May 18.
"It just shows where this team is right now. They hung tough," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "They didn't hang their hands. The pitching responded, and then Fick - last man standing -- came through."
Fick's one-out hit to right field scored Marlon Byrd, who beat the throw from Bobby Abreu, sliding into catcher Sal Fasano just before the ball arrived. Chad Cordero (2-1) pitched two perfect innings for the victory, following a perfect three innings from rookie Bill Bray.
Clay Condrey (1-1) took the loss for the Phillies, who have lost two in a row after winning four straight.
"When you play that long and you lose, it's not good," manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's definitely a downer, but at the same time we've got to bounce back tomorrow."
Manuel should have said "today" or, better yet, "in a few hours." The teams were to meet again Saturday in an afternoon game.
Byrd led off the 12th with a double down the right field line, but Damian Jackson struck out trying to bunt him over. Alfonso Soriano was intentionally walked, his best moment at the plate on a night in which he went 0-for-6 with three strikeouts and left nine men on base.
That brought up Fick, who provided the long-awaited finish to a game already delayed by weather and fraught with blown opportunities. Things seemed securely in the Nationals' hands after Philadelphia starter Brett Myers struggled through his worst outing of the season. Then it swung the Phillies' way when Chase Utley and Pat Burrell homered in the seventh. It then settled into stalemate mode after Washington tied the scored in the bottom of the seventh.
The game's first run was a product of the wet field. Right fielder Marlon Anderson slipped while backing up center fielder Byrd on a bloop hit, turning Burrell's single into an RBI double for the Phillies.
Philadelphia got two in the first, but the Nationals came back with three in the second by getting their first five men on base with the help of an error and a horribly misplayed ball by Abreu. Abreu stood waiting to catch Zimmerman's deep line drive, then watched it sail well over his head for an RBI double. Third baseman David Bell booted a routine grounder three batters later.
Ryan Howard tied the game at three in the third with his 22nd home run, an opposite field drive to left, but the Nationals added three more in the bottom of the inning on two sacrifice flies sandwiched around a single by Schneider.
Myers, who had thrown at least five innings in his previous 12 starts this season, lasted only three this time. He had not allowed more than three earned runs in an outing, but his line Friday night included six earned runs and seven hits.
But Washington relievers Jon Rauch, Mike Stanton and Gary Majewski couldn't hold a 7-3 lead in the seventh. Pinch-hitter Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins singled to chase Rauch, then Utley took the first pitch from fellow lefty Stanton deep for his 12th home run.
Abreu followed with a single. Stanton gave way to Majewski, whose 2-2 pitch ended up clanging into the yellow foul pole down the left field line for Burrell's 15th homer.
But the Nationals weren't done. Pinch-hitter Brendan Harris singled off Rheal Cormier to score Schneider in the bottom of the seventh, tying the game at eight. It was Harris' first RBI since May 25, 2005.
Zimmerman, Nick Johnson and Brian Schneider each had three hits for the Nationals. Utley and Burrell had three hits apiece for the Phillies. ... You can tell the World Cup is under way. Both clubhouses had Poland vs. Ecuador on the TV before the game, and the players who know soccer were doing their best to help the uninitiated. "Brazil is like the Yankees in soccer," Victorino said to teammates packed on the sofa in front of the screen.