Nationals score one for history in 7-3 win

1st victory is over Phillies

Wilkerson hits for cycle


April 07, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA -- The Washington Nationals have broken the ice.

Leadoff man Brad Wilkerson hit for the cycle and the Nationals unleashed an impressive overall offensive display last night to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-3, at Citizens Bank Park for the first victory in the history of the fledgling franchise.

Washington overcame a 3-2 Phillies advantage with a four-run eighth inning that included a clutch home run by cleanup man Jose Guillen to continue its hot hitting -- 29 hits in the first two games.

"When you hit for the cycle, it's always very impressive," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said of Wilkerson. "But it wasn't just hitting for the cycle. He kept the pressure on the Phillies. People say you're wasting him by hitting him at the top of the lineup, but he can do some good things for you up there."

Wilkerson, who had the first hit ever collected by the team in Monday's opener, homered in the third inning, singled in the fifth, tripled over Phillies center fielder Kenny Lofton's head in the seventh and doubled in the eighth when his shot to center bounced over the low wall to limit him to two bases.

"I was kind of hoping it wouldn't bounce over the fence because we'd have scored two instead of one [run]," said Wilkerson. "I probably would have gone for three there. But I ended up with a double and the cycle."

It was the second cycle of Wilkerson's career, the first coming on June 24, 2003, for the Montreal Expos against Pittsburgh. He is the 26th player to have managed the feat twice.

Robinson believed the two-run shot by Guillen off Tim Worrell -- who was roundly booed by the crowd of 23,435 Phillies faithful -- was the key blow because it regained the lead for the Nationals after a two-run homer by Pat Burrell had pushed Philadelphia ahead 3-2.

"We've been swinging the bats pretty good," said Robinson. "That homer by Guillen was big and then we picked up a couple clutch hits after that in that inning [including Wilkerson's double]. That put some space between us and them."

Veteran Vinny Castilla pitched in with two doubles and two singles for Washington, which pounded the Phillies' bullpen after starter Brett Myers went 6 2/3 strong innings.

Zach Day had a quality outing for the Nationals before leaving after Burrell's homer into the left-field bleachers.

"He had a couple pitches he didn't get where he wanted and hung a breaking ball to Burrell," said Robinson. "He had a little lapse, but I'm very pleased with his start."

Washington's relievers blanked the Phillies over the final 3 1/3 innings, with Joey Eischen being credited with the team's historic first win.

"Everybody did their job," said Wilkerson. "Last year, everybody seemed to get off to a bad start at the same time. Now, we have some people who can hurt you. It's a different ballclub."

"Being the first Nationals win makes it that much sweeter," added Robinson. "We kept hitting and hitting."

NOTE: One of the old Senators' finest players, Mickey Vernon, threw out the first ball last night. Now 86 years old, Vernon resides in his native Marcus Hook, Pa., just a short drive south of Philadelphia. He was a two-time batting champion in Washington and a seven-time American League All-Star first baseman. He also managed the Senators for two seasons and part of a third.

Nats schedule

Next 10 games

Date Opponent Time

4/7 at Philadelphia 1:05

4/8 at Florida 7:35

4/9 at Florida 6:05

4/10 at Florida 1:05

4/11 at Atlanta 7:35

4/12 at Atlanta 7:35

4/13 at Atlanta 1:05

4/14 Arizona 7:05

4/16 Arizona 7:05

4/17 Arizona 1:05

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