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Washington wins fifth of six games

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nationals manager Frank Robinson thinks John
Patterson deserves an assist for Washington's latest
come-from-behind victory.

Patterson pitched five innings despite having his outing split
by a rain delay of over two hours, and Jose Guillen hit a
tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth to lift Washington over the
Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 Wednesday night.

Umpires called for the grounds crew to cover the field with two
outs in the third. Rain halted play for 2 hours, 8 minutes, but
Patterson returned to the mound afterward.

"With him going out there and pitching five innings, at least
it gave us a chance to keep the bullpen intact and use it down the
stretch," Robinson said.

Patterson, who gave up two runs on three hits with three walks
and five strikeouts, said he was getting stiff during the prolonged
delay.

"If I would have stiffened up too much more, I don't know if I
could have gone," he said. "But I felt like the team needed me to
go out there and pitch."

Pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga started the decisive rally with a
one-out single to center off Salomon Torres (2-3), who then walked
Brad Wilkerson. After Junior Spivey struck out, Guillen hit a
grounder to third that glanced off the foot of third baseman Rob
Mackowiak and went into foul territory, allowing Baerga to score.

"We're a little lucky right now," Guillen said.

Mackowiak made a desperate attempt to stop Guillen's smash.

"The ball was hit so hard I only had half a step, so I tried to
get my leg down. You try to do anything you can to stop the ball,"
Mackowiak said.

Travis Hughes worked a scoreless sixth, Gary Majewski the
seventh and Luis Ayala (7-4) pitched the eighth for the victory,
Washington's fifth in six games. It was the Nationals' 28th home
victory, most in the majors.

Chad Cordero pitched the ninth for his 27th save -- 24th
straight, breaking the franchise consecutive saves record
established by Montreal's Mel Rojas in 1996.

"It's a good feeling to have that kind of record," Cordero
said. "It feels even better because we're winning."

Washington has won 14 of 15 at RFK Stadium and improved to 17-5
in one-run games since May 8.

Mackowiak homered for Pittsburgh, which has dropped four of
five. The Pirates fell to 7-17 in one-run contests.

"We just don't do what we need to do to win games," Pittsburgh
manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Washington took a 1-0 lead in the first off Dave Williams. The
Nationals loaded the bases on Spivey's double, an error by
Mackowiak and a walk to Vinny Castilla before Marlon Byrd's
sacrifice fly.

Play was halted by a thunderstorm with two outs in the top of
the third and Mackowiak batting.

The RFK Stadium grounds crew had difficulty covering the field.
They could only stretch the canvas as far as the edge of the
infield grass along the third-base line. The downpour erased the
baseline and turned the exposed portion of the infield into a muddy
mess.

After the grounds crew removed the tarp, it took more than an
hour -- and more than two dozen bags of drying compound -- to prepare
the field.

"They put it back in pretty good shape," Robinson said. "I
don't think anyone complained about the footing."

When play resumed, the Pirates went ahead 2-1 on Mackowiak's
homer off Patterson's first pitch. Matt Lawton, who had walked
before the rain delay, also scored.

Ryan Vogelsong replaced Pirates starter Dave Williams in the
bottom of the third, and gave up the tying run an inning later.
Cristian Guzman tripled, Brad Wilkerson walked and Spivey was hit
by a pitch to load the bases. Vogelsong then walked Guillen to
force in a run.

Game notes
Pirates 2B Jose Castillo left the game in the sixth with
mild chest pain related to asthma. He is expected to be available
Thursday. ... Guillen's RBI in the fourth was the 500th of his
career. ... Williams pitched two innings, giving up an unearned run
on two hits, walking two and striking out three. ... Pittsburgh's
Nate McLouth made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter, popping
out to center in the seventh.