Vidro's blast lifts Nats over Phillies, 5-4

His home run in 10th gives Washington 1st series win

Baseball

April 08, 2005|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA -- Jose Vidro took a chance last May, signing a four-year, $30 million extension to remain with baseball's forgotten franchise instead of choosing free agency.

In the 10th inning of the Washington Nationals' 5-4 victory yesterday over the Philadelphia Phillies, Vidro felt redeemed.

"When I signed, a lot of people questioned me why I did it, and it seems that it was a good decision right now," said Vidro, whose bases-empty homer yesterday gave the Nationals their second consecutive comeback victory against the Phillies.

"I didn't doubt myself when I made the decision because I knew things were going to get better here," he said.

By depositing a 1-2 fastball from Philadelphia reliever Rheal Cormier (0-1) into the left-field seats, Vidro became the most obvious of several heroes as the Nationals took two of three in their first-ever series win.

"It was a total team W," said Vidro, who had three RBIs and his first homer since Aug. 21, his last game before having season-ending knee surgery.

Chad Cordero (1-0) sealed the victory with a perfect 10th, which included strikeouts of Jim Thome and Pat Burrell on knee-buckling sliders. Manager Frank Robinson decided to send the 23-year-old closer to the mound for a second inning, something he did in only five of Cordero's final 11 appearances last season.

"I like it," Cordero said of pitching more than one inning. "It means that they have confidence in me to get the job done."

The Nationals tied the game in the eighth on a leadoff triple by Jose Guillen that bounced off the center-field wall in the deepest part of Citizens Bank Park. Nick Johnson followed with a smash down the right-field line that would have been a double had it not struck the first-base bag and looped into the air.

Thome grabbed it and touched first ahead of Johnson, but Guillen scored on the play.

"The guys didn't even get down when Johnson's ball hit the bag," Robinson said. Nobody started throwing things around or [said] `Oh what a bad break' or whatever. We scored the tying run, and we just felt like, `Now we are going to win this ballgame.'"

The Nationals (2-1) cruised into the sixth with a 3-0 lead, thanks to starter Esteban Loaiza. The 33-year-old right-hander retired the first 12 batters he faced and 16 of 17 before running into trouble. He allowed three runs in the sixth and lost the lead in the seventh when Placido Polanco's RBI single chased him from the game.

The meltdown wasn't all Loaiza's fault, though. Philadelphia scored its first run when center fielder Brad Wilkerson overran Polanco's single, allowing Jose Offerman to score from first.

"One shift of the game like that can turn it around," Wilkerson said. "But we showed a lot of guts and a lot of fight after that inning."

A day removed from hitting for the cycle, Wilkerson had three singles and a double in five at-bats. Dating back to his second at-bat Wednesday, he reached base eight straight times, including seven consecutive hits.

NOTES: Reserve first baseman Wil Cordero was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left-knee injury after leaving before the fifth inning yesterday and will have a magnetic resonance imaging test in Florida today. To fill his spot, infielder Carlos Baerga will be recalled today from Triple-A New Orleans. ... Right-handed pitcher Travis Hughes, 26, was claimed off waivers from Texas. Hughes, who pitched two games for the Rangers in 2004, was added to Washington's 40-man roster and sent to Triple-A.

Nats schedule

Next 10 games

Date Opponent Time

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

4/18 Florida 7:05

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