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Nationals conquer rain, Yankees

Yankees trainer Gene Monahan aids center fielder Brett Gardner, who hit his head on a plexiglass wall making a great catch in the eighth. Yankees trainer Gene Monahan aids center fielder Brett Gardner, who hit his head on a plexiglass wall making a great catch in the eighth. (Frank Franklin Ii/Associated Press)
Associated Press / June 19, 2009
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Craig Stammen and the Washington Nationals really dampened the New York Yankees’ day.

After waiting out an almost 5 1/2-hour rain delay at the beginning, Stammen earned his first major league victory, Julian Tavarez provided key relief and the last-place Nationals beat New York, 3-0, yesterday in the first game without a homer at the new Yankee Stadium.

Boosted by Ryan Zimmerman’s three hits, Washington posted its first two-game winning streak since taking three straight May 7-9. Behind Stammen (1-2), the Nationals became the last team in the majors to pitch a shutout this season.

Unsure whether there would be a game, Stammen bided his time by reading a book, watching games on TV and eating lunch. Hours later, he learned he would be pitching.

“I guess it started right on time for me,’’ he said.

Maybe it was the damp air, or perhaps it had more to do with Stammen’s neat 6 1/3 innings, but nobody managed to clear the fences. There had been a whopping 119 home runs through 34 games at the majors’ newest launching pad.

Scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m., the game did not begin until 6:31 p.m. A postponement seemed unlikely because the teams shared only one mutual off-day the rest of the season for a possible makeup.

There is no official record of the longest rain delay in big league history, but this certainly ranked high at 5 hours 26 minutes. The start of a pennant-race game in 1999 between Cincinnati and Milwaukee was delayed 5 hours 47 minutes.

The call on whether to play or not rested with the Yankees.

“I was in the loop at all times,’’ New York manager Joe Girardi said. “When we were supposed to start and couldn’t, at 2, 3, 4 or 5, all of those times.’’

About 10,000 people were sprinkled around the ballpark for the first pitch. When the Yankees announced fans could move down, there was a stampede toward the $2,625 seats in the front row.

Despite the messy weather, it was an extremely crisp game. No pratfalls, no errors and several sharp plays on both sides.

Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner made one of the best, tracking down Austin Kearns’s long drive in the eighth. The back of Gardner’s head whiplashed against the plexiglas wall, and he was down on the warning track for several minutes after getting the wind knocked out of him. A woozy Gardner was driven off on a golf cart.

“The body feels fine. I just have a little headache,’’ Gardner said.

Orioles 5, Mets 4 - Aubrey Huff drove in the winning run with a ninth-inning single off Francisco Rodriguez, capping a two-run rally that carried host Baltimore past New York.

Rodriguez entered the game with a 0.56 ERA and 16 saves in 17 tries. After Matt Wieters hit a leadoff double and Nolan Reimold walked, Brian Roberts laid down a bunt, and the throw to third by catcher Omir Santos was too late to nail pinch runner Felix Pie.

Rodriguez (1-2) then walked Adam Jones to force in a run, and after Nick Markakis struck out, Huff hit a liner to right - his second straight game-deciding hit.

Blue Jays 8, Phillies 7 - Pinch hitter Rod Barajas led off the ninth inning with a tiebreaking homer and visiting Toronto completed a three-game sweep of Philadelphia.

Raul Chavez and Adam Lind also homered for the injury-riddled Blue Jays, who had been 0-6 in interleague play.

Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, John Mayberry Jr., and pinch hitter Greg Dobbs went deep for the Phillies, who dropped to 13-19 at home.

Rockies 4, Rays 3 - Clint Barmes hit a two-run homer to help Ubaldo Jimenez win his third straight start as host Colorado held off Tampa Bay.

Cubs 6, White Sox 5 - Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto hit consecutive home runs to tie the game in a four-run eighth inning, then Alfonso Soriano singled home the winning run in the ninth as the Cubs rallied from a four-run deficit to beat the White Sox at Wrigley Field.

Dodgers 3, Athletics 2 - Orlando Hudson homered, pinch-hitter Mark Loretta drove in the go-ahead run, and host Los Angeles took the rubber game of its interleague series with Oakland.

Padres 4, Mariners 3 - Adrian Gonzalez matched his career high with four hits, including a homer, and scored the winning run with two outs in the 10th inning as host San Diego beat Seattle to end its major league-record interleague losing streak at 13.

Tigers 6, Cardinals 3 - Rookie Rick Porcello won for the seventh time in nine starts for visiting Detroit, which shook off an offensive drought with a four-run first inning to beat St. Louis and avoid a three-game sweep.

Twins 5, Pirates 1 - Nick Blackburn (6-2) pitched a six-hitter for his first career complete game, leading host Minnesota past Pittsburgh. He struck out two and walked one.

Braves 7, Reds 0 - Tommy Hanson allowed three hits in six impressive innings and Nate McLouth homered and drove in four runs as visiting Atlanta routed Cincinnati.

Astros 5, Rangers 3 - Hunter Pence led off the eighth inning with a tiebreaking homer and visiting Houston avoided a season sweep by Texas.

Diamondbacks 12, Royals 5 - Chris Young had a career high four hits and Dan Haren earned his sixth victory in seven decisions to help visiting Arizona beat Kansas City.

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