Signs Of Life: Washington Rallies, Wins Fifth In Row

Nationals 12 Marlins 8

August 07, 2009|By Chico Harlan | Chico Harlan,The Washington Post

WASHINGTON -Long after his team had fallen way behind and swaggered all the way back-and later, after the fireworks had popped, the clubhouse music had died down and most of his teammates had showered and left-soft-spoken relief pitcher Logan Kensing reclined in his clubhouse chair and said, "Lately it just seems like we're alive."

Comebacks are the best litmus test for life; they require vigor at the exact depths where it's tempting to have none. The Washington Nationals have life. Down six early, their starting pitcher gone after five outs, again forced to ride a tired bullpen, playing their 22nd consecutive game without a day off, the Nationals battled back for a 12-8 victory over the Florida Marlins at Nationals Park, winning their season-high fifth straight game.

In tandem with the winning streak - and with their 11-11 stretch under interim manager Jim Riggleman - they also have a newfound sense of what they look like, and what they can do, with actualized talent. This comeback required help from almost every player on the roster. For every homer by Ryan Zimmerman, there were 3 1/3-inning of bailout by Kensing, who ate innings after starter Craig Stammen faltered. For every RBI by Elijah Dukes (and he had four of them, including the game-tying solo homer in the seventh), there was an escape by Jason Bergmann with the bases loaded in the sixth.

Washington won this game because of relentlessness. Because of Alberto Gonz?lez's two-run double in the fourth, the first real puncture wound inflicted on Florida's Chris Volstad. Because of Zimmerman's two-run shot in the fifth, his 23rd homer of the year, which made it an 8-5 game. Because of hits in the fifth from Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham and Josh Bard, as the deficit shrank to 8-7.

"I just wanted to keep the game close," said Kensing, who took the mound in the second and allowed two earned runs in the next 3 1/3 innings. "Any time we keep it close, there's a good chance we can pull through."

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