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Desmond smashes a game-tying homer in eighth

WASHINGTON -- Ian Desmond defiantly stood at his locker Saturday and insisted no, the Nationals' 14-inning loss to the Yankees was not all that tough to handle.

Even after Mark Teixeira's go-ahead double into the right-field corner gave New York its decisive runs in the Nationals' 5-3 loss, Washington was at least three games ahead of its closest competitor in the National League East. Even after Brad Lidge was on the mound allowing costly runs in two consecutive games, the reliever induced the ground balls he wanted.

But for the second time in as many games with the Yankees at a sold-out Nationals Park, errors proved costly and few other bounces went the Nats' way.

"It's a bit of bad luck right now where they're just kind of hitting them where we're not. They're the ground balls you want, just hit perfectly in between guys," said Lidge, who has allowed five earned runs in one inning the past two games. "It is frustrating, but you have to go inning to inning with them as long as you can. Eventually a lineup like that might crack through."

After seven hitless innings against the Nationals' bullpen -- the seventh through 13th frames -- the Yankees' lineup did break through. Jayson Nix and Derek Jeter greeted Lidge with a pair of weak singles, and Teixeira followed two batters later with the game-winning hit to right field off Lidge and his signature slider.

"I wanted to throw it for a strike, kind of a backdoor strike," Lidge said. "He did a good job. I think he was probably sitting on it, and he hit it well."

It was the first hard-hit ball since the eighth inning, when the Nationals tied the game at 3 and threatened to take the lead.

Desmond, who manager Davey Johnson considered giving the day off after Desmond complained of soreness in his left oblique, repaid his manager's trust to leave him in the lineup with a game-tying homer into the left-field seats.

"Sitting around, I felt like it was starting to tighten up a bit. I hit the homer and wondered if there was anything there at all," said Desmond, who likened the soreness to a knot in the back. "It's obviously manageable -- I played 14 innings."

A play at the plate could have shortened that significantly, though.

Tyler Moore followed Desmond's homer off Cory Wade with a walk, then stole second. Pinch-hitter Adam LaRoche sent a single to right field that brought defensive substitute Dewayne Wise up throwing. Moore rounded third as Wise fielded the ball, but his headfirst slide was not enough to beat the throw.

"I thought I got in there," Moore said, "but I haven't seen the replay yet."

Johnson could not see the tag from his vantage point in the Nationals' dugout, but he saw Moore's hand touch the plate, which he relayed to umpire Tim Timmons on one of his trips to home plate. Johnson made a pair of double switches, using all but one reliever and one bench player as the game wore on, with seventh- and 14th-inning stretches and another Teddy Roosevelt loss in an extra Presidents Race.

Johnson just let his bullpen work.

Ross Detwiler, Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett and Craig Stammen held the Yankees scoreless once starter Jordan Zimmermann exited after the sixth inning.

The right-hander battled through a 108-pitch outing as his defense gave New York extra outs. He had a 2-0 lead after Jesus Flores hit a two-run broken-bat double in the second inning, but the Yankees scored an unearned run in the fourth and took their first lead in the sixth.

Another infield single started it in the sixth, as Robinson Cano's ground ball sneaked under a diving Moore at first base. Cano advanced to third on a Nick Swisher double, then scored on a groundout. With Russell Martin on first, Eric Chavez doubled off the right-center-field fence to give New York the lead.

The Yankees scored their first runs after a Cano walk and a Swisher single started the fourth. Zimmermann induced a double-play ball, but second baseman Danny Espinosa misfired on his turn to extend the inning. Zimmermann induced another ground ball, but Desmond booted it at shortstop, allowing a run to score.

"Just find a way, find a way to get it done," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "That's what our guys did."

Washington did not. Bryce Harper came to the plate as the winning run with two outs in the 14th, but the rookie phenom grounded out, completing an 0-for-7 game that saw him strike out five times.

"We had our chances," Johnson said. "We just couldn't seem to deliver."

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