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Nationals honor Robinson, but send him out with loss to Mets

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- Frank Robinson emerged from the dugout more than 10 minutes after his final game as a major league manager and walked across the grass behind home plate.

Thousands of spectators stood, applauded and shouted good wishes, including yells of, "We love you!" The Hall of Famer smiled and waved, then doffed his cap and put his large right hand over his heart.

Sunday's farewell was the sort Robinson wanted when he asked the Washington Nationals to let him know before season's end whether he'd be back in 2007. Instead of the usual day-after-the-last-game announcement, the Nationals made what seemed clear would happen completely official before Saturday's game, allowing Robinson, his players and his fans to treat his last weekend as a tribute.

"I'm numb right now," Robinson said, shortly after stepping off the field. "Just soaked it in. I wasn't thinking about any one particular thing. Just trying to absorb the moment."

And what stood out the most?

"What a lousy game," Robinson growled.

And then he smiled, making sure everyone in the room realized he was kidding.

A 20-minute pregame ceremony in his honor delayed the first pitch of what would turn out to be a 6-2 loss by his last-place Nationals (71-91) to the NL East champion New York Mets (96-66).

"Nothing takes anything away from the moment," Robinson said. "In about 10, 15, 20 years, my memory will be we won the game, anyway. No-hitter. Home run in the bottom of the ninth to win a nothing-nothing ballgame."

Well, for the record: David Wright and Shawn Green each had two hits in the second inning, when the playoff-bound Mets scored six runs on nine hits, New York's season high for an inning. Guillermo Mota (3-0) pitched a perfect eighth and was credited with the win.

"It's nice to finish up strong and get a nice little streak over the weekend," said Mets manager Willie Randolph, whose team has won four consecutive games.

"We're going into the real season, and I'm excited about it, looking forward to it. It's what you play for."

The Mets will start the playoffs at home, taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 Wednesday.

Ramon Ortiz (11-16) left what might have been his final appearance for the Nationals after getting only four outs -- his shortest start of the season. That meant Robinson made one last deliberate walk to the mound to yank an ineffective pitcher.

There were plenty of "lasts" for Robinson, who said he'd like to stay in baseball after more than half a century. He hit 586 homers as a player and was the first black manager in the majors.

"I can leave baseball as far as this is concerned," Robinson said, tugging at his red jersey, "but I feel I have something to offer as far as baseball itself."

Earlier in the day, he told reporters: "I'm not going to manage, but I'm not retiring."

And during his 10-minute pregame address, Robinson said: "There's a lot of things I want to try to accomplish for others that are going to come after me. There's a lot of other things in baseball, I think, that can be done much more politically correct. I'm looking for opportunities for people that are qualified to fill positions in different organizations in baseball."

As the speech went on, Robinson kept using the phrase "In closing ..." -- then kept right on speaking. Who could blame him?

"I've never done anything harder than I have to do right now," Robinson said, his voice cracking, "and that's to say, 'Goodbye."'

When he relinquished the microphone, he was engulfed by players and staff from his Nationals, of course, but also from the Mets, who all left their dugout to greet Robinson with hugs and slaps on the back.

"Frank has been a great ambassador for baseball, a great individual, a great superstar in the game," New York's Julio Franco said. "Baseball's going to miss him."

The game might also have marked free-agent-to-be Alfonso Soriano's last game in a Washington uniform. After he trotted out to left field in the top of the fourth, Robinson sent out a sub, so the fourth member of baseball's 40-40 club could jog off to a standing ovation -- quite a contrast from the spring training days of "Will he or won't he switch from second base to left field?"

As usual, Robinson watched the game while perched against the green dugout railing, his arms crossed on a white towel. There was a point when everyone else moved away, perhaps a collective effort to give the man a few moments alone.

"I have a lot of respect for him," Soriano said, "as a manager and person, too."

Notes

  • Mets OF Cliff Floyd (left Achilles' heel) played for the first time since Tuesday and hit leadoff to get extra at-bats.
  • Randolph said he'll decide Monday on a lineup for Game 1 of the playoffs.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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There's a mass of humanity, players and fans alike, that are there to give Frank Robinson his due. (AP)
There's a mass of humanity, players and fans alike, that are there to give Frank Robinson his due. (AP)

Players of the Game
Washington

R. Church
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
New York

J. Valentin
AB 3
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
 
New York Mets
Cliff Floyd, LF3111110
    Endy Chavez, CF1000001
Paul Lo Duca, C4011002
    Lastings Milledge, LF1000000
Carlos Beltran, CF4000011
    Pedro Feliciano, P0000000
    Chad Bradford, P0000000
    Guillermo Mota, P0000000
   a- Michael Tucker, PH1000000
    Aaron Heilman, P0000000
David Wright, 3B3120000
    Chris Woodward, 3B2010000
Shawn Green, RF5130000
Julio Franco, 1B5111025
Jose Valentin, 2B3131100
Anderson Hernandez, SS4112012
Oliver Perez, P1000101
   b- Ricky Ledee, PH1000001
    Roberto Hernandez, P0000000
    Ramon Castro, C1000011
Totals3961363614 
a-flied out for Mota in the 9th
b-grounded out for Perez in the 5th
Batting
2B - Cliff Floyd (, Ortiz), Shawn Green (, Ortiz)
3B - Anderson Hernandez (, Ortiz)
RBI - Cliff Floyd (), Paul Lo Duca (), Julio Franco (), Jose Valentin (), Anderson Hernandez 2 ()
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Carlos Beltran 1
DP - Beltran-Franco
New York Mets
Oliver Perez 4511140
Roberto Hernandez 1000100
Pedro Feliciano 1100020
Chad Bradford 1100000
Guillermo Mota (W,-) 1000000
Aaron Heilman 1211020
HBP - F. Lopez (by Oliver Perez)
WP - Aaron Heilman ()
Pitches-Strikes - Oliver Perez 77-53, Roberto Hernandez 14-8, Pedro Feliciano 13-10, Chad Bradford 22-16, Guillermo Mota 13-7, Aaron Heilman 20-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Oliver Perez 2-6, Chad Bradford 2-1, Guillermo Mota 1-2, Aaron Heilman 1-0
Batters Faced - Oliver Perez 19, Roberto Hernandez 3, Pedro Feliciano 4, Chad Bradford 4, Guillermo Mota 3, Aaron Heilman 5
Washington Nationals
Bernie Castro, 2B5021015
Felipe Lopez, SS3000011
    Jon Rauch, P0000000
    Chad Cordero, P1000011
Alfonso Soriano, LF2000003
    George Lombard, LF1000101
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B2000000
    Saul Rivera, P1000001
    Henry Mateo, 3B1000000
Jose Vidro, 1B3120000
    Brandon Harper, PR-C1000000
Brian Schneider, C-1B4000022
Robert Fick, RF4020001
Ryan Church, CF4131011
Ramon Ortiz, P0000000
    Billy Traber, P1000012
   a- Melvin Dorta, PH-3B^SS2000111
Totals352922819 
a-walked for Traber in the 4th
Batting
2B - Ryan Church (, Heilman)
RBI - Bernie Castro (), Ryan Church ()
2-OUT RBI - Bernie Castro (), Ryan Church ()
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - F. Lopez-Castro-Vidro
Washington Nationals
Ramon Ortiz (L,-) 1.1766000
Billy Traber 2.2300210
Saul Rivera 3100030
Jon Rauch 1000120
Chad Cordero 1200000
Pitches-Strikes - Ramon Ortiz 28-18, Billy Traber 42-28, Saul Rivera 38-26, Jon Rauch 16-9, Chad Cordero 19-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ramon Ortiz 2-2, Billy Traber 3-3, Saul Rivera 3-3, Chad Cordero 1-2
Batters Faced - Ramon Ortiz 11, Billy Traber 12, Saul Rivera 10, Jon Rauch 4, Chad Cordero 5
Game Information
Attendance - 29044
Game Time - 2:54
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Tim Welke, First Base - Gary Cederstrom, Second Base - Jim Reynolds, Third Base - Kerwin Danley