Casey Blake, Dodgers Beat Nationals 4-3 in 13 Innings

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Casey Blake, Dodgers Beat Nationals 4-3 in 13 Innings WASHINGTON — It was the 13th
inning of a game approaching 4 1/2 hours in length, and Ivan Rodriguez
was heading home, representing the tying run.

As Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake
charged the bouncing ball and prepared to try to preserve his team's
slender lead by getting Rodriguez at the plate, one thought ran through
the mind of rookie reliever Carlos Monasterios.

"I was begging," Monasterios said. "I was praying he would make the right throw."

That he did. Already having
contributed two homers and three RBIs, Blake put a finishing flourish
on his fine afternoon by throwing out Rodriguez for the second out in
the 13th after Russell Martin drove in the go-ahead run in the top half
Saturday, and the Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 4-3.

Martin, the catcher whose throwing
error in the eighth helped Washington score the tying run, applied the
tag on a close play at the plate.

"I was just trying to get rid of it
quick, and I didn't have a good grip on it at all," said Blake, who was
out of the starting lineup Friday and responded in his return with his
first multihomer game since June 2008.

Monasterios (1-0), Los Angeles'
seventh pitcher, threw the final 2 2/3 innings to earn his first
victory in the majors. In the 13th, he allowed pinch-hitter Rodriguez's
single, then Nyjer Morgan's double, putting runners at second and third
with one out. But first came the grounder that set up Blake's throw,
then Cristian Guzman flied out to left to end it.

As for whether Rodriguez should have
been trying to score there, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said: "It
was a good gamble. Blake made a good play. … If the throw is just a
hair off, he is going to be safe."

Miguel Batista (0-2), who entered in
the 11th, retired the first two batters in the 13th. But Rafael Furcal
singled, stole second, and scored on Martin's hit to center on a full
count.

The score had been stuck at 3-all
since Washington tied it in the eighth, aided by Martin's error while
trying to stop Adam Kennedy on a steal attempt at second base. Kennedy
took third, and he scored on Morgan's single off closer Jonathan
Broxton
.

Both of Blake's deep shots came off
Craig Stammen, who went seven innings. Stammen produced two hits of his
own at the plate: a double in the fourth, and a two-out RBI single in
the sixth.

"Lightning struck twice today," Stammen said.

His second hit tied the score at
2-2, and the next batter, Morgan, hit a ball over left fielder Xavier
Paul
's head. As Stammen chugged toward home, Morgan headed for third
base, hoping to draw a throw there instead of one to the plate.

"Nyjer's very fast," Stammen explained, "and I'm not really that fast."

But Morgan was thrown out on a play
scored 7-4-5 to end the inning. The umpire standing at home immediately
ruled that Stammen did not cross the plate before Morgan was tagged,
meaning the run didn't count.

"I was being aggressive," Morgan said, "but not intelligent."

Batista got two nice plays from
right fielder Willie Harris. First, Harris jumped against the wall
while backpedaling to catch a deep drive by Martin leading off the
11th. Harris tumbled to the warning track, knocking his cap off, and
appeared to limp a bit when he got back to his feet. After the game, he
said he was going to have an MRI exam on his right knee.

Harris made another nice grab for
the second out in the 13th, this time charging forward and diving to
snare a sinking liner off the bat of Reed Johnson.

But Martin came through soon
thereafter, moving Los Angeles within a game of .500. The Dodgers had
lost three of four entering Saturday and, as starter Clayton Kershaw
acknowledged: "Wins aren't coming easy for us."

The Nationals, meanwhile, dropped to
9-9, failing in their bid to climb two games above .500 for the first
time since they were 3-1 in April 2008.

"You're not going to win them all, but we can take some positives out of this," Stammen said. "We're just as good as they are."

Notes
After the game, the Dodgers
put RHP Vicente Padilla on the 15-day DL because his upper right
forearm muscle is bothering him. Torre said RHP John Link would be
brought up from the minors for Sunday's game. Torre didn't say who
would start in Padilla's spot against the Mets on Tuesday. …
Washington's starting lineup was missing 3B Ryan Zimmerman (right
hamstring) and C Rodriguez (lower back tightness, although he was
supposed to get the day off, anyway).

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