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He quickly and predictably found trouble in the ninth, plenty of it caused by the Nationals’ defense. The inning began with Guzman’s errant throw to first, which took a tough bounce in front of Dunn at first. After Jim Thome’s pinch single, MacDougal walked Rafael Furcal to load the bases.

With former Nationals infielder Ronnie Belliard at the plate, Washington pulled its infield in, trying to get two outs from a ground ball, and Belliard hit one right to Guzman. His throw home, though, pulled catcher Josh Bard’s foot off home plate - a call disputed by the Nationals and television replays - and the Dodgers had the tying run.

Washington managed to survive the inning with the score tied, and the way they won it was almost anticlimactic.

Maxwell singled to start the ninth and advanced to second on Alberto Gonzalez’s sacrifice bunt. First-base coach Marquis Grissom had told him James McDonald’s delivery time to home plate - an appetizing 1.4 seconds - so Maxwell stole third before Orr’s fly ball. That Ethier dropped it only put a fitting, final touch on a strange game.

“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.”