- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Washington Nationals played like a million last night — in more ways than one.

By edging the Seattle Mariners 2-1, the Nationals (36-26) won their ninth game in a row and 11th in 12 games of a homestand that ends today and maintained their startling 1-game lead in the National League East.

The transposed club, which went 67-95 last season as the Montreal Expos, also looked like a million at the box office. The crowd of 39,108 boosted the Nationals’ home attendance to 1,019,462 for 32 games.

It marked the second time a baseball team in Washington has drawn more than 1million in a season. The 1946 American League Washington Senators drew 1,027,216.

With a limousine waiting to take him to MCI Center for the Mike Tyson-Kevin McBride heavyweight fight, Jose Guillen stroked a game-winning single in the seventh inning, breaking a 1-1 tie.

It was Washington’s 25th come-from-behind victory, and the Nationals’ 23-9 record at RFK is the best home record in baseball.

Nationals starter John Patterson (3-1) pitched seven solid innings to pick up the win. Closer Chad Cordero picked up his 18th save in 20 opportunities.

“When you’re out there on the field and stand there and look around, the stadium has a great feel and the crowds here are awesome,” Patterson said. “The team has character. The stadium has character. The fans have been outstanding. It’s a great place to play baseball.”

Guillen’s 32nd RBI came at an opportune time. With one out in the seventh, pinch hitter Carlos Baerga singled to right off Mariners reliever J.J. Putz. Tony Blanco pinch-ran for Baerga and ended up on third when Putz walked leadoff man Brad Wilkerson and pinch-hitter Ryan Church to load the bases. Guillen then sent a liner into center field that scored Blanco.

Patterson, who had pitched five consecutive no-decisions coming in, had never faced the Mariners before. This time he was matched against 42-year-old left-hander Jamie Moyer.

Moyer, who passed Randy Johnson as the Mariners’ all-time winningest pitcher last month, had some control issues last night. He hit Brad Wilkerson and Nick Johnson and walked three batters in the first five innings. Though he allowed just one run on four hits in six innings, only 54 of his 102 pitches were strikes.

Cristian Guzman, who had the Nationals’ first hit of the game, also helped get Washington on the scoreboard in the fifth. Guzman, who entered the game as a .099 hitter from the right side of the plate, launched a ground-rule double over the center-field wall to open the inning.

Patterson did his job by laying down a perfect sacrifice back to Moyer that advanced Guzman to third. Marlon Byrd, who started in left field for rookie Ryan Church with southpaw Moyer on the mound, lofted an opposite-field fly deep down the right-fight line that dropped just in front of Ichiro Suzuki a few feet inside fair territory and skittered past him to the bullpen wall.

Byrd’s well-placed triple scored Guzman for his 11th RBI this season and tied the game 1-1.

The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning. Patterson walked Mike Morse to open the inning, and Moyer bunted Morse to second one out later. That set the table for Suzuki, baseball’s single-season hits leader with 262 last season.

Suzuki hit what looked like a routine ground ball to Johnson, but it took a wicked hop over Johnson’s head into right field, and Morse scored.

Other than that unfortunate hop, Patterson was masterful against a formidable Mariners batting order. He went seven strong innings and surrendered just one run on six hits.

“My curveball was a little off, but when I needed it, I threw it for a strike,” Patterson said. “All my other pitches were there. I had good location on my fastball, my changeup when I needed it and my slider when I needed it.”

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