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Harris hits walk-off homer in 12th for Nationals' fourth win in row

CBSSports.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- Willie Harris couldn't get a sacrifice bunt down to move the winning run into scoring position. Then he failed to execute a hit-and-run.

So when emergency reliever Scott Richmond ran the count full, Harris just wanted to drive the ball somewhere to keep the rally alive.

Harris hit a two-run homer in the 12th inning and the Washington Nationals stretched their winning streak to a season-high four games by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Saturday night.

Nationals manager Manny Acta kept changing the tenor of Harris' at-bat as it unfolded. First he called for a bunt, then tried to get Harris to shoot a ball through the infield with Alberto Gonzalez running on the pitch.

"It's a mouse-and-cat type of game. ... We got all the way to 3-2 and we try to tell [Harris] to be aggressive," Acta said.

Gonzalez led off the 12th with a single against Richmond (5-4). Harris then hit a drive into the Nationals' right-field bullpen for his second home run of the season.

"When I got to 3-2, I was able to get a ball up in the zone and hit it out of the ballpark," said Harris, who made a diving catch in center to take an extra-base hit away from Raul Chavez in the fifth.

The Nationals, with the worst record in the majors, have their longest winning streak since taking seven straight from Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2008.

"We really feel like we can win every game," Harris said. "When you're losing ballgames, you get a gut feeling you're going to lose a game somehow. Things are going well for us now."

Julian Tavarez (3-4) got the victory with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Toronto manager Cito Gaston turned to Richmond, who started and won Wednesday in Philadelphia, because he was down to rookies Dirk Hayhurst and Brad Mills in an overtaxed bullpen.

"We had a lot of guys that weren't available tonight and we got them through the night," Gaston said. "Of course, it would have been nicer to get them through with a win."

Washington's Nick Johnson walked, singled and doubled in his first three times up, extending his streak of reaching base safely to 10 consecutive plate appearances, a Nationals record. That matched the franchise mark set by the Montreal Expos' Rusty Staub in 1969. Johnson's streak ended with an eighth-inning groundout.

Vernon Wells hit his sixth homer off Washington starter Ross Detwiler in the sixth, ending career-long homerless drought of 160 at-bats.

But it wasn't enough to prevent a two-game losing streak by the Jays, who scored 23 runs in sweeping three games from the World Series champion Phillies before arriving in D.C.

"[Washington] pitched as well as we have," Gaston said. "They've just managed to outscore us. ... In baseball you don't stay hot all the time."

The Nationals went up 1-0 in the fifth. Harris hit a ground-rule double over the wall in left-center, stole third and scored on Wil Nieves' sacrifice fly.

Consecutive doubles by Cristian Guzman and Johnson restored the Nationals' lead in the bottom of the sixth before Elijah Dukes' two-out double made it 3-1.

Brett Cecil, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Las Vegas to take the rotation spot of the injured Toronto ace Roy Halladay, allowed eight hits and three runs in seven innings, walking one and striking out four.

Toronto tied it in the eighth. Jose Bautista's single chased Detwiler, Kip Wells relieved and gave up a sacrifice bunt and a run-scoring single by Aaron Hill.

Kip Wells got Vernon Wells to pop up after a passed ball by Nieves moved Bautista up and was replaced by Joel Hanrahan, who yielded a game-tying single by Scott Rolen.

Detwiler allowed two runs on six hits over seven-plus innings, walking one and striking out three.

Notes

  • Rolen's fourth-inning single extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
  • Washington LHP Scott Olsen, on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder tendinitis, will make at least one more rehabilitation start for Triple-A Syracuse before he's activated. On Friday, Olsen allowed four runs on seven hits and walked three in 3 2/3 innings.
  • Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of Gaston's return as Toronto's manager. In that time, the Blue Jays were 88-69 (.561), the third-best mark in the American League.
  • Washington RHP Jesus Colome left the game in the 11th with a right quadriceps strain and is day-to-day.
 
Copyright 2015 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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Julian Tavarez, Willie Harris and the Nats are excited to be on their longest winning streak of the season.  (AP)
Julian Tavarez, Willie Harris and the Nats are excited to be on their longest winning streak of the season. (AP)

Players of the Game
Washington

W. Harris
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Washington

N. Johnson
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
 

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Toronto Blue Jays
Marco Scutaro, SS4000112 .295
Aaron Hill, 2B5111102 .304
Vernon Wells, CF5111013 .248
Scott Rolen, 3B5021011 .326
Adam Lind, LF4020100 .305
Alex Rios, RF4000013 .273
    Shawn Camp, P0000000 .000
   a- Lyle Overbay, PH-1B1000011 .272
Kevin Millar, 1B4010100 .246
    Scott Richmond, P0000000 .000
Raul Chavez, C5010003 .263
Brett Cecil, P2000022 .000
   b- Jose Bautista, PH1110000 .257
    B.J. Ryan, P0000000 .000
    Joe Inglett, RF2000000 .167
Totals4239347  
a-struck out for Camp in the 11th
b-singled for Cecil in the 8th
Batting
HR - Vernon Wells (6, Detwiler)
SH - Marco Scutaro (4)
RBI - Aaron Hill (48), Vernon Wells (31), Scott Rolen (24)
2-OUT RBI - Scott Rolen (11)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Vernon Wells 1
DP - Scutaro-Hill-Millar, Chavez-Scutaro, Hill-Scutaro-Millar
Toronto Blue Jays
Brett Cecil 7833140 4.26
B.J. Ryan 0.2000100 5.50
Shawn Camp 2.1100120 3.41
Scott Richmond (L,5-4) 1222011 3.79
Pitches-Strikes - Brett Cecil 104-68, B.J. Ryan 11-5, Shawn Camp 27-19, Scott Richmond 18-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brett Cecil 9-4, B.J. Ryan 2-0, Shawn Camp 4-1, Scott Richmond 1-1
Batters Faced - Brett Cecil 26, B.J. Ryan 3, Shawn Camp 9, Scott Richmond 5
Washington Nationals
Cristian Guzman, SS4120000 .332
Nick Johnson, 1B4121101 .318
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B5000024 .299
Adam Dunn, LF5000023 .263
Elijah Dukes, RF5021011 .247
Alberto Gonzalez, 2B5130001 .333
Willie Harris, CF4222112 .228
Wil Nieves, C2001000 .250
   a- Anderson Hernandez, PH1000002 .263
    Josh Bard, C0000000 .213
Ross Detwiler, P2000010 .000
    Kip Wells, P0000000 .000
    Joel Hanrahan, P0000000 .000
   b- Josh Willingham, PH0000100 .246
    Mike MacDougal, P0000000 .000
   c- Austin Kearns, PH1000000 .193
    Jesus Colome, P0000000 .000
    Julian Tavarez, P0000000 .000
Totals38511537  
a-grounded out for Nieves in the 9th
b-walked for Hanrahan in the 8th
c-grounded out for MacDougal in the 10th
Batting
2B - Cristian Guzman (14, Cecil), Nick Johnson (12, Cecil), Elijah Dukes (13, Cecil), Willie Harris (8, Cecil)
HR - Willie Harris (2, Richmond)
SF - Wil Nieves (2)
SH - Cristian Guzman (3)
RBI - Nick Johnson (33), Elijah Dukes (30), Willie Harris 2 (11), Wil Nieves (11)
2-OUT RBI - Elijah Dukes (12)
SB - Willie Harris (5, 3rd base off Cecil/Chavez)
CS - Elijah Dukes (7, 2nd base by Cecil/Chavez)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Gonzalez-Guzman-N. Johnson, Guzman-Gonzalez-N. Johnson
PB - Wil Nieves (2)
Washington Nationals
Ross Detwiler 7622131 4.76
Kip Wells (H,5) 0.2111000 6.38
Joel Hanrahan (BS,5) 0.1200010 5.93
Mike MacDougal 2000100 4.20
Jesus Colome 0.1000110 6.97
Julian Tavarez (W,3-4) 1.2000120 3.81
WP - Ross Detwiler (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Ross Detwiler 99-65, Kip Wells 9-7, Joel Hanrahan 10-7, Mike MacDougal 19-10, Jesus Colome 11-6, Julian Tavarez 31-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ross Detwiler 5-12, Kip Wells 1-1, Mike MacDougal 5-0
Batters Faced - Ross Detwiler 27, Kip Wells 3, Joel Hanrahan 3, Mike MacDougal 6, Jesus Colome 2, Julian Tavarez 6
Game Information
Attendance - 22142
Game Time - 3:37
Temperature - 84
Umpires - Home - James Hoye, First Base - C.B. Bucknor, Second Base - Mike Everitt, Third Base - Brian Gorman