The Cincinnati Reds put the leadoff runner on in the eleventh and the thirteenth and fourteenth innings and failed to drive them in. After the Washington Nationals rallied to tie Monday night's game at 2-2 in the ninth inning, the Nats and Reds played six extra innings of baseball in the nation's capital.
By the time it ended, Stephen Strasburg and Mike Leake's outings were a distant memory.
In the top of the fifteenth, Brandon Phillips singled and scored on a two-run home run by Todd Frazier, who hit a 2-1 change from Ross Detwiler into the first rows of the Red Porch seats in Nationals Park. The Nats rallied again in the bottom of the inning to get within a run at 4-3, but they fell short of a second comeback and dropped the series opener to Cincinnati's Reds.
Detwiler told reporters, including the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, that it was a tough game to lose:
Detwiler was stand-up: It sucks that our team is out there fighting all night long, and I make one mistake and that pretty much cost us."— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) May 20, 2014
"He gave up a homer," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said when asked after the game what went wrong for the 28-year-old lefty. "I don't know. He threw a pitch in there, a guy hit a homer. It happens. Changeup that just stayed up and it happens during the game sometimes. Nothing in particular, he just gave up a homer."
The Nationals were 2 for 18 with runners in scoring position in the loss.
The five-hour-plus game ended when Danny Espinosa flew out to right an at bat after Greg Dobbs drove in the Nats' third run.
Before Frazier's home run in the top of the fifteenth, Kevin Frandsen doubled to start the home-half of the fourteenth inning, but he was stranded when Jose Lobaton struck out, Dobbs flew out and Anthony Rendon lined to center where Billy Hamilton made a diving catch to keep it tied at 2-2.
Two innings before Hamilton's game-saving catch, Brandon Phillips dove for a two-out line drive to center off Wilson Ramos' bat with the winning run on third base.
"We had opportunities tonight," Williams said, "and certainly Hamilton's play off the ball [Rendon] hit was a great play, so... but those opportunities are out there and we had them tonight we just didn't come through."
"It's the game," he said. "It's the way it goes. So all you can do is hit it. Sometimes you wish you can steer it after you hit it, but that doesn't happen. So, they made a couple of nice plays."
Asked about his decision to go with Lobaton, the final position player on the bench, instead of pitcher Tanner Roark, who was in the on-deck circle until Frandsen doubled in the bottom of the fourteenth, Williams told reporters he felt it was the time to go for the win.
"We've got one guy left on the bench and we've got to take our shot to win the game," the Nats' first-year manager explained. "So we can try to bunt [Frandsen] to third with a pitcher, but [Lobaton] is on the bench, we've got to take a shot. He looked to get a ball over to the right side." Lobaton struck out instead, on the fourth straight changeup Reds' right-hander Logan Andrusek threw him.
The Nationals battled back from a 2-0 deficit, tied it in the ninth and had their chances in extra innings, but they couldn't get ahead of the Reds. Williams, as usual, was ready to move on as soon as it ended.
"You just have to just understand that it's one game. Just because you play more innings than normal doesn't make it any more gratifying to win or less gratifying to lose. A loss is a loss and a win is a win. So, the key for us will be preparing for tomorrow. We've got a tough guy tomorrow to face, so we'll get the guys some rest and get back at it."
Doug Fister makes his home debut at 7:05 pm EDT tonight.
The Reds' starter in the second game of three for Cincinnati in D.C. is 27-year-old right-hander Johnny Cueto, who enters the game with a (4-2) record, a 1.25 ERA, a 2.98 FIP, 18 walks (2.25 BB/9) and 76 Ks (9.50 K/9) after nine starts and 72 IP.