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D-backs breathe sigh of relief after win

D-backs need extras to put away Nats

WASHINGTON -- There was more a feeling of relief than jubilation in the D-backs' clubhouse following their 7-5, 11-inning win over the Nationals on Thursday night.

With a 2-0 lead and Dan Haren working on a two-hitter heading into the ninth, there was simply no way they could afford to lose this game. It was only one of 162, but had they come out on the losing end of it, well, no one in the clubhouse wanted to go there.

"It would have been miserable," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said.

"This probably would have been one of the toughest losses we would have had," closer Brandon Lyon said.

Instead, the D-backs took several positives from the win:

-- Starter Dan Haren improved his case for starting the All-Star Game with eight-plus innings of two-hit ball.

-- Setup man Chad Qualls seemed to have recaptured his form from early in the season.

-- Third baseman Mark Reynolds rebounded from a couple of crucial errors to come up with a big hit.

-- The D-backs finally showed some fight at the plate after struggling on offense for much of the past two-plus months.

Haren cruised through the first eight innings, displaying the form that helped him to be named National League Pitcher of the Month in June. Since a June 1 start against the Nats at Chase Field, the right-hander has a 1.29 ERA over eight starts, yet only has three wins to show for it.

"He seems like he's the guy that always gets the short end of the stick, that somehow or other he can't get that win," first baseman Chad Tracy said. "He's pitched his butt off for us all season and he should have 14, 15 wins right now."

"Especially the way Danny pitched, he's been unbelievable," Lyon said. "I mean, more than you would ever expect out of a starting pitcher this last month and a half. It's unfortunate for him not to get the win because he definitely deserved it tonight."

When he went out to start the ninth, Haren had thrown 104 pitches, but told Melvin that he still felt strong, and the manager decided to let him try for the complete game.

"No hesitation at all," Melvin said.

Haren allowed the first two batters to reach before Melvin brought in Lyon to try and close it out.

That's when what had been an uneventful game suddenly became, well, plenty eventful.

A pair of errors by Reynolds at third led to the two runs the Nats managed in the ninth, yet Lyon was able to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam to send the game to extra innings.

"People are going to forget that I pitched today and that Lyon pitched today, but he did a tremendous job," Haren said.

The D-backs scored three runs in the top of the 10th off Washington closer Jon Rauch, but Tony Pena was unable to close the door in the bottom half of the inning as the Nats managed to tie things up.

The game could have ended right there if not for the pitching of Qualls, who has recently begun to show signs of snapping out of his slump.

With runners at first and third and one out, Qualls got Jesus Flores to ground into a fielder's choice, with Augie Ojeda throwing Austin Kearns out at the plate, and then got Wily Mo Pena to ground out to end the inning.

"I think Qualls found his mojo tonight, too," Melvin said. "That's the guy we saw for the better part of the year, up until [his struggles]. I think it was big for him."

The D-backs offense continued to produce as it pushed across a pair of runs in the 11th to grab the lead once again.

There would be no magic for the Nats in the bottom half, as Qualls retired them in order to end the game.

After collecting two runs on seven hits through the first nine innings, the D-backs scored five runs on seven hits in the 10th and 11th innings. That, to Melvin, showed "feistiness."

"We saw a lot of that last year," he said. "We haven't seen near enough of it this year, and we saw it several times tonight."

Reynolds was probably the most relieved person in the clubhouse, as he certainly would have been the one to blame had the D-backs lost.

"I tried to mess it up for us but they picked me up tonight," Reynolds said. "It was a tough night."

But one that could have been a lot worse. Both for Reynolds and the team.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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