At ease in clutch, Guillen drives Nats by Marlins in 10th

His homer clears wall after Lo Duca's shot falls just short in ninth, 3-2

April 10, 2005|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,SUN STAFF

MIAMI - Jose Guillen's not sure what kind of pitch he hit or whether his long fly ball in the 10th inning yesterday had enough to get over the center-field wall, but he's positive about something.

He wants to be the player up with the game on the line.

"I love it. I love it like I love playing every inning," Guillen said. "This is what I do. This is my job."

With center fielder Juan Pierre in pursuit, Guillen's shot cleared the Dolphins Stadium wall to ultimately give Washington a 3-2, extra-inning victory against the Marlins and reliever Antonio Alfonseca (0-1).

After the game, the Washington right fielder said he's not surprised by his own heroics.

"The last [few] years in those types of situations I've been coming up big," Guillen said. "And here we go again."

Guillen then helped preserve the lead by making a sliding stop of a one-out double by Pierre, keeping the speedster from getting a triple. He made the play despite twisting his right ankle earlier in the game. Pierre never got to third base.

It was the second extra-inning victory this week by the Nationals (3-2), both won by closer Chad Cordero (2-0).

This time, Cordero blew the save and nearly lost the game.

Trailing 2-1 with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Florida's Carlos Delgado picked an opportune time to hit his first homer as a Marlin, tying the game at 2.

One out later, Florida catcher Paul Lo Duca broke into a home run trot and wagged his right index finger in the air as he approached first base. That's where he had to stay.

Lo Duca's blast to left pinged off the top of the wall, a few inches short from becoming a game-winner.

"When I turned up and looked at the wall I was like `Oh God, please don't disappear,'" said left fielder Ryan Church.

The next batter popped up, stranding Lo Duca and giving Guillen a chance to outdo Lo Duca.

"It's part of the game," Guillen said. "Lo Duca is Lo Duca. Guillen is Guillen, so we're different type of players."

It was Washington's third homer of the night. In the fifth inning against Florida starter Brian Moehler, Church and Vinny Castilla became the first Nationals to hit back-to-back homers.

Washington starter Livan Hernandez held the lead, allowing just one unearned run in seven innings. He gave up five hits and walked one.

"I had good control and [made] no mistakes," Hernandez said. "When you make mistakes you get in trouble."

NOTES: After getting just two hits and no walks in his first 18 at-bats, (.111 average) shortstop Cristian Guzman was dropped from second to eighth and went 1-for-2 with two walks. Nick Johnson moved up to second ...

Church started in left after not starting the first four games due to a strained groin ...

First baseman Wil Cordero's left knee surgery has been moved up to tomorrow in Cincinnati instead of Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale ...

The city of Washington is reportedly close to a sponsorship deal with the National Guard that would change Robert F. Kennedy Stadium to National Guard Field at RFK, according to a story in yesterday's Washington Post. The paper reported the deal could pay $6 million total over the three years the Nationals are expected to play at RFK ...

Although there's been a delay due to high volume, Nationals' full-season and mini-plan ticket holders should receive their tickets by the close of business tomorrow. If the tickets haven't arrived by Federal Express, contact 202-675-6287.

Nationals today

Opponent: Florida Marlins

Site, time: Dolphins Stadium, Miami, 1:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 20/1050 AM

Starters: Nationals' John Patterson (4-7, 5.03 in 2004) vs. Marlins' Josh Beckett (1-0, 0.00 in 2005)

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