Nats interim manager John McLaren ejected in 1st game
CHICAGO (AP) - A day after their manager's stunning resignation, the Washington Nationals lost their interim skipper, too. John McLaren, filling in temporarily after Jim Riggleman quit, was ejected in the eighth inning of Friday night's 9-5 win over the Chicago White Sox in 14 innings.
The Nationals moved on without McLaren, just as they did without Riggleman. And now a new manager could be ready to move into the dugout. Earlier in the day, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said he'd talked with Davey Johnson about replacing Riggleman.
Brian Bixler scored the go-ahead run in a four-run 14th-inning on a throwing error by shortstop Alexei Ramirez as the Nationals forged a wild 9-5 victory over the White Sox that took nearly five hours. It was their 12th win in 13 games.
"They put things behind them and played the game with as much intensity as I've seen in 24 years," McLaren said. "The team is on the move and it was a great win for us."
McLaren said after the back-and-forth game that he would manage again Saturday. After that, who knows.
Johnson, who managed four major league teams and led the Mets to the 1986 World Series titles, is considered the leading candidate, although the team said after the game it had no announcement. The 68-year-old
Johnson has been a senior adviser with the Nationals since 2009.
"I think Davey is a great baseball guy," said Ryan Zimmerman, who capped the 14th with a two-run double.
"A lot of us were around him in spring training. We've got a good team here. We've got a great group of guys and whoever is the manager, whether it's Davey or whoever it is, they're going to be real happy with what we have here."
Riggleman stepped down after a 1-0 win over Seattle on Thursday, upset he couldn't get a conversation with general manager Mike Rizzo about the team picking up his option for 2012. The stunning move came with the Nationals playing their best ball of the season. Bixler, who entered in the eighth when outfielder Jerry Hairston and McLaren were ejected, hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the 12th.
But A.J. Pierzynski homered on an 0-2 pitch from Tyler Clippard with two outs in the bottom half to tie it at 5. In the 14th, Bixler reached on an infield hit against Matt Thornton (0-4) and stole second. Ian Desmond hit a grounder to Ramirez, whose low throw hopped past first baseman Mark Teahen as Bixler scored to give the Nats the lead.
Roger Bernadina then singled in an insurance run and Ryan Zimmerman added a two-run double.
Collin Balester (1-0) pitched two innings of scoreless relief. Laynce Nix's homer off closer Sergio Santos put the Nationals up 4-3 in the 10th. But Chicago tied it in the bottom half when Todd Coffey threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded.
Starters Jordan Zimmermann of the Nationals and Edwin Jackson of the White Sox each threw seven shutout innings. The game got crazy when the bullpens got involved.
Michael Morse hit a two-run homer off Brian Bruney in the eighth and the Nats added a run in the ninth on Ian Desmond's RBI single for a 3-0 lead. But Teahen connected for a pinch-hit drive in the ninth following singles by A.J. Pierzynski and Brent Lillibridgeoff Drew Storen.
"We just never could get the lead. It was like Teahen with the pinch-hit home run in the ninth, coming back a couple of different times in extra innings," Pierzynski said.
"We fought, but in the 14th or 15th inning, whatever it was, they hit a couple of balls in perfect spots. We had tough plays, and they ran and beat them out and it worked out for them."
After Nix put the Nationals ahead, Chicago loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th. Coffey walked Paul Konerko and gave up a double to Adam Dunn - who was in an 0 for 16 slump - to put runners at second and third. Alex Rios was walked intentionally to load the bases and Coffey threw a wild pitch with a 1-1 count on Pierzynski, allowing pinch-runner Omar Vizquel to score the tying run.
Pierzynski was then intentionally walked to reload the bases before Coffey retired the side.
McLaren and Hairston were long gone by the time the game ended, incensed by a strange sequence in the bottom of the eighth. Konerko hit a grounder to shortstop Desmond, who fumbled the ball and threw wide to first. Morse tried to tag Konerko as he went by, and umpire Mike Estabrook initially ruled Konerko out. But after Konerko protested, the umpires conferred and reversed the call - after the Nationals had left the field.
An irate McLaren raced out to protest and was quickly ejected. Hairston also was thrown out and had to be restrained by third base coach Bo Porter.
"I released a little anger," said McLaren, acknowledging that he touched the brim of an umpire's cap with his finger.
"I didn't do it on purpose, but I'll take full responsibility. I respect the umpires. I don't think you all have ever seen me like that. I'm usually the guy in the dugout trying to keep the peace and everybody on an even keel."
Center fielder Bernadina went high above the fence in right-center to take a potential homer away from Dunn and end the sixth.
Another good defensive play hurt the White Sox in the seventh. Morse went to his right and snagged Juan Pierre's two-out liner with two on.
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