Last Updated: 6:43 AM, June 17, 2012
Posted: 12:55 AM, June 17, 2012
WASHINGTON — Their faces were drained and ice smothered body parts from head to toe.
After close to five hours Saturday the Yankees topped the Nationals, 5-3, in 14 innings as 41,287 watched at Nationals Park. With the victory, the Yankees maintained their 1 1/2-game lead over the Orioles in the AL East.
“That was exhausting,’’ said Mark Teixeira, whose two-run double in the 14th off Brad Lidge helped carry the Yankees to a season-high eighth straight victory. “It was a day game after a night game and 14 innings. I am tired.’’
Teixeira was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts when he doubled in Jayson Nix and Derek Jeter.
All that remained was for Rafael Soriano, the seventh Yankees pitcher, to record the final three outs and his 12th save.
While he did, Soriano added a shot of drama to the ending by giving up two one-out hits which meant facing 19-year-old stud Bryce Harper with two outs, two on and the Nationals trailing by two.
“It was one of those storybook endings you are hoping it wasn’t going to be,’’ Teixeira said. “Give Sorie credit, he made a good pitch and got him out [on a grounder to second]. It would have been too good to be true for Harper to hit a walk-off right there. The place might have fallen down.’’
Harper’s day ended much the way it started. He was 0-for-7 and whiffed five times. Andy Pettitte, 40, fanned Harper in his first three at-bats.
Since the game lasted four hours and 49 minutes, it had more than one highlight.
After Ian Desmond homered off Cory Wade to tie the score, 3-3, in the eighth, Wade walked Tyler Moore and he swiped second. Boone Logan gave up a single to Adam LaRoche that Dewayne Wise in right fielded and fired home to Russell Martin. Plate umpire Tim Timmons called Moore out but he might have been wrong.
The Yankees had Nick Swisher thrown out at the plate and Swisher departed the game with a contusion of the left quadriceps. When Swisher exited the ballpark he was on crutches.
The Yankees won for the first time this season without hitting a home run. They were 0-12 in games without hitting a homer.
Freddy Garcia, who pitched for the second time since May 21, provided two scoreless innings and was the winner.
“I want to pitch,’’ the former starter said. “Let me prove I can help from the bullpen.’’
Pettitte went seven innings, gave up two runs and five hits. With 95 pitches, Girard lifted Pettitte.
When the Nationals hit in the eighth the Yankees led, 3-2, thanks to two runs in the sixth when Raul Ibanez drove in a run with a ground out and Eric Chavez doubled in another.
With David Robertson jumping off the disabled list and pitching Friday night, it was odd to see Wade surface from the bullpen in the eighth.
“I was trying to stay away from him,’’ said Girardi, who explained that Robertson wasn’t bothered by a one-inning stint Friday night. “And it was a day game after a night game.’’
Other than Wade’s blown save, the five relievers who followed him delivered 6 ¹/₃ innings of scoreless relief.
“Give our guys credit for holding them down,’’ Teixeira said.
Credit was appreciated but a nap would have served the weary Yankees better.
“We could have easily said, ‘We are playing well’ and let this one die out there,’’ Pettitte said.
Because of the latest bullpen gem that included 1 ²/₃ innings of scoreless hurling from Cody Eppley the Yankees lived long enough for Teixeira to deliver on a day the Yankees went 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13.