WASHINGTON (AP) Adam LaRoche says he was ''trying not to pass out'' during his unusual five-RBI game in the Washington Nationals' 14-inning win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
LaRoche spoke Friday for the first time about Wednesday's 8-5 marathon, which he entered as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning and somehow persevered through a trio of maladies - back, elbow and flu - to lift the Nationals to one of their most inspirational victories of the season.
''I was trying not to pass out. I felt that weak,'' LaRoche said. ''I was trying to survive every inning, on defense praying the ball was not hit to me, which is the opposite of what you want your defenders thinking.''
LaRoche wasn't supposed to play in the game because of a nagging lower back strain. The flu weakened him further, and he didn't even bother putting on his uniform.
''I was just drained,'' he said. ''My head was pounding. Just no energy.''
But manager Matt Williams needed a pinch-hitter in the ninth, so LaRoche suited up, borrowed one of teammate Jayson Werth's bats and came through with a game-tying, two-run homer. The Nationals went on to take the lead in the inning, but Werth's error in the bottom of the ninth helped send the game to extras.
So LaRoche batted three more times. In the 11th, he got plunked in the elbow - right on the nerve. It started swelling. When he walked to the plate in the 12th, he didn't think he could swing the bat.
''I had every intention of bunting,'' LaRoche said. ''And I looked up and (Juan) Uribe's playing me like a speed guy, even with the base on the grass, so that was out.''
Instead, LaRoche laced an opposite-field, two-run single.
''Chalk that up to luck,'' he said.
Then again, maybe the injury helped.
''I don't ever want to see any of our guys get hit,'' Williams said, ''but the good part about it was he took a nice easy swing and delivered single to left. It just shows him he can do that anytime he wants to, even when he's not hurting.''
The Dodgers rallied again to keep the game going. Williams started thinking of contingency plans: Who would play first base if LaRoche couldn't continue?
He thought about starting pitcher Doug Fister, but then he used Fister as a pinch-hitter. The only position player on the bench was catcher Wilson Ramos.
But LaRoche stayed in and supplied the game-winning RBI in the 14th with a fielder's choice grounder, barely beating the relay to first to avoid an inning-ending double play.
LaRoche benefited from the Nationals' day off Thursday and was in the lineup for Friday's homestand opener against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Asked to rank his three ailments as of Friday afternoon, he put elbow first, followed by back and flu.
''I feel better,'' he said. ''I don't feel great.''
And, while everyone else is talking about his five RBIs, LaRoche is just happy he finished the game.
''To be honest, I wanted to get through it as quick as possible, so if that meant driving in some runs to get the game over with, then that's what it took,'' he said with a laugh.
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