- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2007

For seven innings Erik Bedard baffled the Washington Nationals while Micah Bowie and Billy Traber — stretched beyond their usual pitch limits — kept the Baltimore Orioles close.

Then Bedard was lifted, Washington battered a beleaguered Baltimore bullpen and the Nationals ended up with an improbable victory to complete an improbable homestand.

On the ninth pitch of his confrontation with Danys Baez in the eighth inning, Nook Logan bounced a single through the right side of the infield to score a pair of runs and send the Nationals to a 4-3 win in front of 29,281 at RFK Stadium.

“It was a situation with the bases loaded where he couldn’t use his breaking stuff with the tying run on third and he didn’t want it to get away, so I was just looking for a ball I could handle,” Logan said. “I did some things I like to do — get on base, run and make stuff happen for the team.”

Ryan Zimmerman started the three-run, eighth-inning rally with a one-out double to right-center field off submarine specialist Chad Bradford. The right-handed Baez came in to face lefty Ryan Langerhans, who singled in Zimmerman.

Baez hit Austin Kearns before Ronnie Belliard’s soft fly ball fell in shallow right beyond the outstretched glove of second baseman Brian Roberts to load the bases. Jesus Flores bounced to third, and Melvin Mora threw home for the second out to set up Logan’s theatrics.

“It makes me very happy for him,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “He got hurt on Opening Day and lost a month, and then he comes back and the first day in Milwaukee he hurts his shoulder swinging the bat. Now we have [Ryan] Langerhans, who took some playing time away from him.

“It is good. It is up to him to go out there and prove to everybody that he means business and he can become the player we envisioned with him.”

Logan also was responsible for the team’s first run. He reached first on a bunt single in the third inning. After Bowie struck out trying to sacrifice him to second, Logan took matters into his own hands. He stole second and swiped third on consecutive pitches.

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo brought the infield in, and Felipe Lopez singled past a diving Roberts to score Logan.

“That’s the kind of thing we envision with [Logan],” Acta said. “I said in spring training that I would love for this kid to work himself into a top of the lineup-type of guy because he has the skills to do that.”

That was all the Nationals could muster against Bedard, who was dominant from the outset. He tied his career high with 12 strikeouts, including punching out the side on three occasions. He did it in a variety of ways, from getting Ryan Zimmerman on three straight fastballs to pinch-hitter Dmitri Young on three consecutive breaking balls.

While his fastball never topped 92 mph according to the radar gun at RFK, his mixture of pitches was, at times, devastating. Flores struck out in the third inning, falling to one knee trying to catch up to a high fastball.

Bedard also did some damage at the plate, notching his first two career hits and his first RBI.

“We were very happy [to see Bedard leave],” Acta said. “He’s tough. It was a tough matchup for us. We don’t have that great offensive ball club, and he is a strikeout guy.”

Bowie started for the first time since Sept. 29, 1999, and had little trouble for three innings. Once he passed the 50-pitch mark, he began to tire, and the Orioles took a 2-1 lead in the fourth with a run-scoring single from Jay Payton and a sacrifice fly from Melvin Mora.

Billy Traber replaced him, and Traber’s ability to work out of jams in the fifth and sixth innings proved to be critical. The Orioles had runners on second and third with one out in the fifth and second and third with nobody out in the sixth but managed just one run — when Bedard blooped a hit into shallow left with two outs in the sixth.

When the Nationals defeated the Braves on Thursday afternoon, they assured themselves of a winning homestand. But after a pair of one-run losses to Baltimore, finishing it at 7-3 with a come-from-behind win probably felt a lot better than ending a 6-4 homestand by being swept.

“It goes from being a pretty good homestand to being a really good homestand,” Langerhans said. “It gives us a little momentum going on the road now.”

Want more Nats? Check out Nats Home Plate.

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