- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Washington Nationals came from behind yet again last night. So what else is new?

This time it was catcher Brian Schneider’s turn to get RFK Stadium rocking and rolling as the team rallied for the 24th time in this astonishing season.

Schneider stroked a two-run single in the eighth inning that snapped a tie game and ignited a late-game explosion as the Nationals won their eighth straight 9-3 over the Seattle Mariners before 28,704.

With the win the Nationals (35-26) maintained their grip on first place in the National League East, improved to 10-1 on this current 13-game homestand, have won 11 of their last 12 and are a major league-best 22-9 at home.

“This is kind of what I would say is an amazing streak, but the club doesn’t amaze me because they showed early on that they have the desire, the heart and we hung in there in close ball games, but this has been kind of an unbelievable roll that we’re on right now and who knows when it’s going to end,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said.

With Jose Guillen on second and Nick Johnson on first, Schneider belted a grounder off of Mariners reliever Shigetoshi Hasegawa just out of the reach of diving first baseman Richie Sexson to give Washington a 5-3 lead. That led to a six-run eighth inning and a victory in the first game of this weekend series. Nationals reliever Luis Ayala (6-3) picked up the win, pitching a scoreless eighth inning.

“He gave me a good pitch to hit, 2-0, and I swung through it, and he just left that pitch up a little bit,” Schneider said. “Fortunately, it took a good bounce for me and popped over Sexson’s glove, and we had two runs when we needed it.”

Sun-Woo Kim was thrust into an emergency starting role when the Nationals traded Tomo Ohka, the scheduled starter, to the Milwaukee Brewers for second baseman Junior Spivey about five hours before the game.

With the Nationals’ No. 5 starting job open, Kim was the first to audition. The 27-year-old right-hander retired eight of the first nine batters before the Mariners figured him out.

Ichiro Suzuki greeted Kim with a single to right field to open the fourth. Kim got a break when Suzuki was caught in a rundown between third and the plate on Adrian Beltre’s grounder to third, but he couldn’t get out of the inning unscathed. With runners on the corners and one out, Richie Sexson delivered a single to right field that scored Randy Winn. The Mariners made it 2-0 when Raul Ibanez grounded to first baseman Nick Johnson while Beltre scored.

“The first three innings, I had pretty good location,” said Kim, who allowed two runs on five hits in five innings. “The last couple of innings I really had trouble.”

Meanwhile, Seattle starter Joel Pineiro scattered six hits over six innings and dominated the first four.

The Nationals scored a run off Pineiro with two outs in the fifth inning. Infielder Rick Short, who made his major league debut after spending 12 years in the minor leagues, became an instant fan favorite when he drilled a run-scoring single to left field, pinch-hitting for Kim, to score Schneider.

Spivey, who arrived at Union Station approximately one hour before the game, made his Nationals debut in the seventh, pinch-running for second baseman Carlos Baerga, who walked to open the inning. Spivey eventually scored the run that tied it at 3-3 when pinch hitter Marlon Byrd reached on a disputed infield single.

The Mariners took a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning when Sexson homered off reliever T.J. Tucker. In the bottom half, the Nationals reduced Seattle’s lead to 3-2 when rookie Ryan Church led with a double down the right-field line. Jose Guillen drove in the run with a single to left that Ibanez bobbled.

Nationals outfielder Brad Wilkerson recorded his 500th career hit in the third inning when he smacked a line-drive triple off the center-field wall off Pineiro.

Associated Press

Nationals catcher Brian Schneider tagged out Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki in a fourth-inning rundown.

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