Baker and Strasburg on eighth-inning homer, Heisey walk-off

In a game that that felt like two or three games in one, it might be hard to remember that through the first seven innings, Stephen Strasburg was pitching a gem.

He allowed the Twins just one run and four hits through seven frames.

Then in the eighth, with one out and the game tied 1-1, Joe Mauer and Eduardo Nunez singled. Brian Dozier then cranked a three-run homer to give Minnesota a 4-1 lead.

Incredibly, the Nationals came back twice after that and won it 6-5 in 16 innings in a game that was the longest in their regular season history: just under six hours.

strasburg-throws-white.jpg"I just tried to take it one pitch at a time and keep battling," Strasburg said. "Wish I could take one pitch back, but it's a learning process. It's not going to be the last one, but I'm just happy with the way the guys fought and picked me up."

Heading into that eighth inning of a tie game, why didn't manager Dusty Baker go to the bullpen then? With the game at 1-1, Baker tried to give Strasburg a shot at 4-0.

"My bullpen was spent," Baker said. "We were hoping he could get through that one inning. Plus, we gave him a chance to try to win that game. This guy has been dealing, and the worst thing is to take a pitcher out who's been dealing all game, and then you bring in a reliever and it might not be his fault, but in a matter of seconds the work he did for the day ends up in a loss. That's certainly what I don't wish for my players."

Baker had discussions with pitching coach Mike Maddux about how to get through the next few innings. Their plan of giving Strasburg a chance to finish the game didn't work out. But there were other considerations, too.

"We really tried to stay away from (Blake) Treinen who's been pitching a lot, two days in a row," Baker said. "We didn't have (Shawn) Kelley today, we wanted to stay away from him because he's gone like four out of the last five and warmed up that day.

"We were kind of, 'C'mon (Yusmeiro) Petit' and that's why we also stayed with Stras that long, too. We were hoping he'd get through that inning. You plan things and Mike and I talk about things and it seems like a wrench is always thrown in our plans some kind of a way with these guys. They bail us out."

Strasburg had studied the Twins before the game and realized they were going to take an unusual strategy against him. They stacked the lineup with right-handed hitters.

"It was a little different just watching the last couple games. I was trying to prepare for guys that I think would be in the lineup, and I show up to the park and see the lineup and I was like, alright, there are three or four guys that I needed to double check on," Strasburg said. "But I can't really worry about if it's lefty or righty. I just gotta execute my pitches and keep it close."

Strasburg was his usual calm self during the postgame revelry in the clubhouse. But thanks to a dramatic walk-off homer by Chris Heisey and his team's incredible comeback, Strasburg had a smile on his face the entire postgame interview.

He was asked, half-jokingly, aren't you glad you gave up that three-run shot in the eighth so your teammates could write a storybook ending?

"Catch-22. Happy to oblige, I guess," Strasburg smiled.

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