for this game

Nationals blow three leads, but beat White Sox in 14

Jun 25, 2011 - 6:35 AM Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - It doesn't matter who's at the helm for the Washington Nationals, they just keep winning somehow.

The Nationals put aside managerial problems to claim a 9-5, 14-inning marathon victory over the Chicago White Sox and win for the 12th time in 13 games overall.

On Thursday, the abrupt resignation of manager Jim Riggleman -- due to future contract issues -- led to bench coach John McLaren being tabbed interim manager before Friday's game. Then, during the game, reports that Davey Johnson would soon be named the manager surfaced.

However, the problems were all washed away for the time being after Alexei Ramirez's throwing error in the 14th allowed Brian Bixler to score the go- ahead run.

The Nationals plated three more runs to seal the victory, but earlier they didn't make it easy for themselves. They saw a three-run lead erased in the ninth and lost the lead two more times during extra innings -- and this was all after McLaren was ejected for arguing an overturned call at first base.

"That was a very interesting game to say the least," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "Both teams battled back. Obviously a great win for us and a great baseball game."

Collin Balester (1-0) got the win after tossing the final two innings.

The Nationals offense gave Balester and the defense a four-run cushion in the 14th. Bixler started a two-out rally with a single and stole second. He then scampered to home on Ian Desmond's grounder to Ramirez, whose throw to first was in the dirt and rolled near the dugout.

The error proved costly, as the bases were loaded after an intentional walk to Jayson Werth. Roger Bernadina hit an RBI single and Zimmerman doubled in two runs.

Reliever Matt Thornton (0-4) gave up the four unearned runs to suffer the loss for Chicago, which was coming off its 17th straight interleague series win over the cross-town rival Cubs.

"They battled, they played all the way through it," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Some guys were overused a little bit, but there's nothing you can do about it."

With all the drama behind their skipper, the Nationals ended up without one for the final seven innings.

With two outs in the eighth inning, first baseman Michael Morse pulled his foot off the bag but looked to have applied the tag on Paul Konerko, who was initially called out by first base umpire Mike Estabrook. But the umpires convened and overturned the call.

McLaren came charging out of the dugout, and after a heated dispute, he and left fielder Jerry Hairston Jr. were ejected.

But the call didn't matter -- Adam Dunn grounded out to end the inning.

The Nationals already had a two-run lead from Morse's blast in the top of the eighth, and tacked on a run in the ninth to go up 3-0.

However, White Sox pinch-hitter Mark Teahen played spoiler with a three-run homer in the ninth, starting the string of three blown save opportunities in four innings for the Nationals' bullpen.

The Nationals grabbed a 4-3 lead in the 10th when Laynce Nix blasted the ball into the right seats.

Todd Coffey came in to replace Drew Storen, who blew his third save of season in the ninth. Coffey didn't do much better, loading the bases with one out. He then hurled the ball into the dirt and it bounced to the backstop, allowing Omar Vizquel to score and tie it back up.

Bixler knocked in his first run of the season in the 12th to push the Nationals up by a run, but again the Sox drew even. A.J. Pierzynski belted a two-out solo shot off Tyler Clippard to make it 5-5.

There was no scoring in the first seven innings due to the solid work of the two starting pitchers. Both Washington's Jordan Zimmermann and Chicago's Edwin Jackson tossed seven scoreless innings. Zimmermann gave up six hits while Jackson allowed five and struck out eight.

Zimmermann also got some spectacular help from Bernadina, who robbed Dunn of a home run in the seventh inning when he snagged the ball over the fence in straightaway center.

Game Notes

It was Washington's first visit to U.S. Cellular Field...Zimmermann posted his 10th straight quality start, a streak that tied a Washington record set by Livan Hernandez in 2005...The White Sox swept a three-game set with the Nats last year.