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Nats beat Dodgers in bizarre fashion

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Of the Nationals’ 52 wins this year, their 5-4 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday night has to rank as one of the strangest. They were no-hit by Chad Billingsley for almost six innings, until Ryan Zimmerman tied the game with a three-run homer. They took the lead on some heads-up baserunning by Cristian Guzman, gave it back on a Guzman error and won it in the bottom of the ninth.

After Justin Maxwell singled, advanced on a sac bunt and stole third, Pete Orr brought him in with a sacrifice fly, that, just for good measure, Andre Ethier dropped.

“It was bizarre, but at the same time, you’ve got to win those games,” Orr said. “If that slips away from us and we don’t win right there, it’s a pretty big downer. It’s real important that we came out and won that game.”

Zimmerman’s homer, which gave him 100 RBI for the year, changed the tone of a game the Nationals seemed destined to lose. But that shot tied the game, and when Orlando Hudson couldn’t turn a double play on Elijah Dukes in the seventh, Guzman raced home from second to give the Nats the lead.

Then he made two errors — on a pair of grounders that Zimmerman thought were tought enough to be scored hits — only to stop a couple more grounders in the ninth and keep the Dodgers from taking the lead.

Maxwell, then, created a run almost by himself. Riggleman said he had a green light to steal, but he wanted Maxwell to wait for the sacrifice bunt. When first-base coach Marquis Grissom told Maxwell that pitcher James McDonald was taking 1.4 seconds to throw to home plate — prime range for a stolen-base opportunity — Maxwell decided to go.

That put him on third with one out, and Orr delivered.

“We really have nothing to play for in the standings, but we’re all playing hard for our manager,” Maxwell said. “I know the amount of work this coaching staff puts in for our team, so to have this win is big.”

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