LOS ANGELES -- The Nationals used a record 26 players Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, and it proved to be enough as they downed the Dodgers, 8-5, in 14 innings. The game took five hours and 34 minutes to play and it turned out to be the longest game in Nationals history.
With the victory, the Nationals remain seven games ahead of the Braves in the National League East race. Atlanta defeated the Phillies, 7-4, at Turner Field earlier in the day.
When asked to describe the game, Nationals manager Matt Williams was at a loss for words.
"I don't know, I don't know," Williams said. "I can describe this as the longest one in team history and we can go from there. They just kept fighting. It was really quiet early. ... and then it was back and forth from there."
Reliever Aaron Barrett called the game a whirlwind. The Nats had a lot of ups and downs in this game.
"Whether we get down or go ahead or whatever the case may be, it looked like the guys have the will to win at all times," Barrett said. "It's just fun to be a part of."
"It was a roller-coaster ride, ups and downs," said Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford. "Thought we had it, then we had like three chances to win it, and we just didn't come through, so it was up and down, and it just didn't go our way."
The game was tied at 5 in the 14th, when the Nationals rallied against right-hander Kevin Correia. With runners on first and third, Adam LaRoche hit into a fielder's choice but Ian Desmond scored on the play. Asdrubal Cabrera was the next hitter and hit a two-run homer to make it a three-run game.
Right-hander Blake Treinen pitched the final two innings for Washington and picked up his second victory of the season.
Earlier in the game, the Nationals and Dodgers found themselves in a pitchers' duel. There was no score when the Dodgers did their damage against right-hander Jordan Zimmermann in the seventh inning. With one out, Crawford blooped a double into right field. Then came Justin Turner to the plate. On a 1-2 pitch, Turner claimed he was hit by a pitch, but a replay challenge revealed Turner was not hit and the original call would stand.
The Nationals wished that Turner had taken his base. On a 3-2 pitch, Turner slugged his fifth homer, a two-run shot, over the center-field wall.
Zimmermann was done after that, lasting 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out eight batters.
The Nationals could do nothing against rookie right-hander Carlos Frias. He pitched six shutout innings and allowed three hits. Washington had a chance to score against Frias in the second inning. It had runners on first and second with no outs, but Cabrera struck out, Jose Lobaton flied out to right fielder Yasiel Puig and Zimmermann grounded out to end the threat.
Washington was down to its final three outs. But as they have been doing during the second half of the season, the Nationals refused to give in, this time against closer Kenley Jansen.
After Bryce Harper singled, LaRoche came to the plate to pinch-hit for Tyler Moore. LaRoche hasn't started the last two games because of a tight lower back, but he came to the plate using Jayson Werth's bat and hit a home run over the left-field wall to tie the score at 2.
Four batters later, Denard Span singled past Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, scoring pinch-runner Danny Espinosa to take the one-run lead.
"He has a long list of problems. He is pretty banged up," Werth said. "He is doing everything he can to get better."
But an error by Werth allowed the Dodgers to tie the score at 3 in the bottom of the ninth. With closer Rafael Soriano on the mound, the Nationals were one out away from victory. With Andre Ethier on first, Turner hit what looked like a routine fly ball to Werth in right field. The reliable Werth dropped the ball for a two-base error and that allowed Ethier to score.
It didn't help that the sun was in Werth's eyes. He knew if the ball carried to his left side, he knew he would have a tough time catching the ball.
"[Turner] hit it a lot better than I thought he did," Werth said. "So in the end, I had to hurry to the ball and it brought the ball right into the sun. … I came close. I kind of slapped at it and it hit my finger. I don't know if it went into my glove or not.
"It's like the worst feeling in the world, helpless feeling. There is nothing you can do. You play this game long enough, it will happen to you. Unfortunately, it happened to me with two outs in a meaningful game."
It looked as if the Dodgers were going to lose the game in the bottom of the 10th. The Dodgers had the bases loaded and one out when left-hander Xavier Cedeno struck out Gonzalez. In came Barrett to pitch to Juan Uribe, who struck out to end the threat.
"Bases loaded right there, I'm not going to give in," Barrett said. "In that situation, I'm going to make him hit my pitch. It's one of those things where I'm going to use my best pitch. I got him swinging at a couple of sliders early and [catcher] Sandy [Leon] and I did a pretty good job of recognizing that he was leaning over the plate. I left my fastball up and in. I ended up getting out of a big jam there."
Nationals left-hander Jerry Blevins pitched the 11th and he was in trouble from the start, allowing consecutive singles to Crawford and Turner. But after Joc Pederson advanced the runners on a sacrifice, Matt Kemp was walked intentionally to load the bases and Drew Butera popped up to Anthony Rendon at third. Dee Gordon struck out to end the threat.
The Nationals took the lead in the top of the 12th inning against Brandon League. With the bases loaded, LaRoche didn't know if he could swing the bat. An inning earlier, he was hit in the left elbow by Dodgers right-hander Jamey Wright. He thought about laying down a bunt, but he managed to hit a single to left field, scoring Rendon and Werth. LaRoche finished with five RBIs after entering the game in the ninth inning.
Reliever Tyler Clippard was one strike away from victory, but Crawford hit a two-run homer over the left-center field wall to tie the game at 5. Clippard was trying throw a fastball down and away, but he left the pitch up in the zone. Clippard was down on his knees, in shock that he allowed the tying run to score.
"When he first hit it, I didn't think it had enough to go over the fence for sure. I thought it might have been a double in the gap," Clippard said. "I would have been OK with that. It was just frustrating. We had worked so hard to get to that point in the game. We pitched out of some big spots. Roche got that late homer to tie the game, we go ahead. … To give up the home run right there, it was heartbreaking for me."
But the Nationals were able to get the win. That's all that matters at this point. The magic number to win the NL East is 17.
"We were fortunate to win that one, I think. You give it away a couple of times. But we'll take it with the off-day coming," Williams said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.