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This time, Tracy's RBI hit the difference

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Diamondbacks are learning how to
scratch out wins. That's a good sign, especially to those who
remember the 2001 World Series champions.

Chad Tracy hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning, and
the Diamondbacks beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 Wednesday --
their second consecutive victory by that score.

"We've been battling the whole nine innings, and we came out
with a couple wins," Tracy said. "That's the nature of the game.
It's fun to play in those games, but it's only fun when you win."

Manager Bob Melvin, who was Arizona's bench coach when the
Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees in a memorable, seven-game
series four years ago, said playing tight games -- and winning -- can
harden a team.

"I'm not equating this team to that team," Melvin said.
"We've got a long way to go. But I'm saying those kind of games
can really build character, and if you play quite a few of them, it
really makes you battle-tested."

Javier Vazquez pitched seven solid innings for the Diamondbacks,
who earned their second straight win over a team that had bedeviled
them. The Washington franchise won 10 straight against Arizona over
the last two years before Tuesday night's 3-2 Diamondbacks victory.

With the score tied at 2, Troy Glaus and Shawn Green singled off
Jon Rauch (1-3) with one out in the eighth. Tracy followed with a
sharp liner to right, scoring Glaus and giving Arizona a 3-2 lead.

An intentional walk loaded the bases, but Rauch escaped further
damage.

Lance Cormier (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win --
taking advantage of second baseman Craig Counsell's second
spectacular defensive play -- and Brandon Lyon needed only six
pitches to retire three Nationals in the ninth for his major
league-leading 13th save.

Counsell, who also had three hits, ranged deep behind second for
Vinny Castilla's grounder and threw him out in the second. He
trumped that by diving to stop a smash by Ryan Church in the
eighth, flipping the ball to Alex Cintron at second for an
inning-ending forceout.

"He got it on his hands a little bit, and it's one of those
right at the edge of your range," Counsell said.

Brian Schneider had two doubles for the Nationals, driving in a
run with the first and giving them a 2-1 lead in the seventh when
he scored after the second. Rookie Tony Blanco got his first major
league RBI with a pinch-hit single in the seventh.

But Arizona answered in its half on Counsell's bloop RBI single.

Washington's Claudio Vargas allowed an unearned run and six hits
in six innings in his first start since Sept. 17 at Philadelphia,
and only his second start since June 18.

"We had opportunities to put them away and we just didn't take
advantage of it," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "We had
multiple opportunities and just couldn't get that big hit."

Vargas spent most of the second half of last season in the
bullpen, and went on the disabled list March 16 after spraining his
right elbow. He was activated late Tuesday.

Vazquez allowed two runs and six hits, striking out seven. It
was his first no-decision in five starts. He won the last four.

"The guys have been scoring a lot of runs when I pitch," he
said. "There are going to be times like this in 162 games."

The Diamondbacks tied it at 1 in the fifth after loading the
bases on three straight singles, including an infield hit by
Vazquez. Cintron lined out to Castilla at third, but when Castilla
tried to double up Vazquez at second, Carlos Baerga's fielding
error allowed a run to score.

"The throw was perfect," Baerga said. "The ball kind of hit,
a little bit, the pitcher -- you know, his arm, and kicked the other
way."

The Nationals scored in the second on back-to-back doubles by
Baerga and Schneider. Vazquez then settled in, allowing only a
bloop single by Vargas over his next 17 batters.

Game notes
Washington's two errors were its first in 90 innings,
keeping the Nationals from tying the franchise record of 10
consecutive error-free games. The 1977 Expos set the mark, and last
year's club tied it. ... Schneider's RBI double extended his
hitting streak to eight games. ... The Diamondbacks said LHP Randy
Choate cleared waivers and has accepted his assignment to Triple-A
Tucson.