Nationals walk off with split of doubleheader

Friday, June 6, 2008

WASHINGTON -- After blowing a six-run lead, the Washington Nationals got a lift from Elijah Dukes to salvage a doubleheader split and end a four-game skid.

With the Nationals trailing 9-8 in the bottom of the 10th and a runner on first, Dukes drilled a 2-2 slider over the center- field fence for a two-run homer to give the Washington Nationals a 10-9 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the second game of a day-night doubleheader Thursday.

Dukes, who had four hits and four RBIs in the second game, finished a double shy of the cycle. His first homer of the season gave the Nationals a split of the doubleheader and snapped their four-game losing streak.

Cristian Guzman had his fourth hit of the second game leading off the 10th against Ryan Franklin (2-2). Dukes followed with the home run.

"I went up there, and I was tired. I was a little sluggish," Dukes said. "Right away, I got it, and it felt good."

Brian Sanches (2-0) was the winner. He allowed Joe Mather's two-out home run, his first major league homer, in the 10th to give St. Louis a 9-8 lead.

In the opener, Todd Wellemeyer won his fifth straight decision, Troy Glaus hit a two-run homer and Albert Pujols connected on the first pinch-hit homer of his career to lead the Cardinals to a 4-1 victory. Glaus also homered in the nightcap.

"It was just a long day for both clubs," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "You've got to commend the effort of both teams to play the back game of a day-nighter and put that kind of effort into it. It was a great game to be a part of. They had the last hero."

Entering the nightcap, Dukes, who was acquired from Tampa Bay in December, had two RBIs in 22 games. He doubled that number in the second game.

"He has had some good at-bats of late. I hope this game helps him out," Washington manager Manny Acta said. "He's had a rough time until now. He hangs in there. He's had some tough at-bats. Things hadn't been working out up until today."

Dukes, who missed nearly six weeks with a hamstring injury, started the season with just one hit in his first 28 at-bats. Things have gotten better, and recently Acta has moved Dukes from eighth in the batting order to second.

"When I got the chance [to bat second], I [said] 'I've got to make this work or I might be down in Triple-A,"' Dukes said.

Franklin, who saved the first game, nearly had two saves in one day.

"I've been around a long time, man, but that was pretty exciting. You just don't want to end up on the raw end of the deal," Franklin said.

The Nationals took a 7-1 lead after three innings, saw the lead cut to 7-3 in the top of the fourth, and took an 8-3 lead after four innings. They scored their runs against Mike Parisi, whose second major league start was no better than his first.

In his initial start May 31, he allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings to Pittsburgh. Against Washington, he allowed eight runs, five earned, and 10 hits in four innings.

Parisi was followed by Mark Worrell, who was making his second major league appearance. Worrell entered the game trailing 8-3, but helped close the gap when he hit a three-run homer off Tim Redding in his first major league at-bat.

Jon Rauch had retired 19 consecutive batters and was in line to record his 13th save in 15 opportunities before he allowed a one-out double to Brendan Ryan in the ninth, a two-out RBI triple to Skip Schumaker that made it 8-7, and an infield single by Aaron Miles to tie the game.

Wellemeyer (7-1), who hasn't lost in seven starts since April 28, allowed five hits in six innings in the opener. He struck out five, walked one.

Wellemeyer, the NL pitcher of the month for May with a 4-0 record and 2.19 ERA, got all the runs he needed from Glaus' first homer of the day off John Lannan (4-6).

Pujols, who was not in the starting lineup in the opener due to a strained left calf, batted for Wellemeyer in the seventh and connected off Joel Hanrahan. It was Pujols' 15th home run.

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