Dukes certainly was the prime reason why the Rangers' night ended in frustration. He hit both a game-tying home run in the bottom of the eighth inning and a game-winning single with two outs in the 14th to give the Nationals a 4-3 victory over the Rangers at Nationals Park on Friday.
The game-winning hit came off of Rangers reliever Jamey Wright, who was pitching for the fourth straight game.
"I felt fine," Wright said. "I had better stuff than the last three games. I was strong. No excuses. I let the winning run score and lost the ballgame."
Wright was the fourth Rangers reliever after Millwood went eight innings. Frank Francisco, Josh Rupe and Joaquin Benoit combined for five scoreless innings before Wright took over.
Wright retired the first batter before hitting Felix Lopez with a 2-2 pitch. He then walked both Paul LoDuca and Ryan Langerhans. Cristian Guzman struck out with the infield pulled in, giving Wright a chance to get out of the inning. But Dukes hit a grounder through the left side of the infield to bring home the winning run.
"He muscled it in the perfect spot," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "The biggest play was hitting Lopez with two strikes. Jamey was doing good until he hit Lopez. He got two strikes on him and then hit Lopez."
The Rangers had just six hits in the game and just two infield hits in their final 12 innings. At one point, Nationals pitchers retired 21 straight batters. Gerald Laird reached on a bunt hit with one out in the third and the Rangers did not get another batter on base until Frank Catalanotto reached on an infield hit with one out in the 11th.
Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and David Murphy all went 0-for-6 in the game. Murphy has just two hits in his last 27 at-bats while Young, who has been playing with a hairline fracture in the tip of the ring finger on his left hand, has just two hits in his last 38 at-bats.
The Rangers offense was also without Milton Bradley, who didn't start for the third straight game because of a strained quad muscle. He did pinch-hit in the 10th, but grounded out on the first pitch.
"We're just going through one of those times," Washington said. "It would be nice to get Milton back in the middle of the lineup."
Laird had two of the Rangers' six hits, but had to leave in the third inning when he strained his right hamstring beating out his bunt. Jarrod Saltalamacchia took over and caught the rest of game. The Rangers got a scare in the 13th when Saltalamacchia took a foul ball off the chin, but he stayed in the game.
Millwood, looking for his fourth win in five starts since coming off the disabled list, took a 3-2 lead into the eighth inning but gave up a leadoff home run to Dukes to tie the game.
"I felt like I threw the ball pretty good," Millwood said. "I felt I had my fastball back. It was a pretty good game for us. It just didn't happen."
Both teams scored early and both teams committed baserunning blunders that possibly kept them from scoring more.
Marlon Byrd led off the Rangers second with a grounder off of pitcher Tim Redding for an infield single. After Murphy flied out, Laird ripped a double off the right-field wall. Byrd went to third, thought about scoring, stopped and then started again when the ball slipped away from cutoff man Dmitri Young at first. Then he stopped again and ultimately was tagged out in a rundown.
Laird went to third and then Redding walked both Ramon Vazquez and Millwood. That brought up Ian Kinsler, who ripped a double off the right-field wall that scored all three runners and gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead.
Millwood got into trouble with two-out in the third when Dukes doubled and Lastings Milledge and Young both drew walks. That loaded the bases for Jesus Flores, who singled to right to score two runs. Young went to second but rounded way too far and was caught off base even though Byrd just lobbed the ball in from right field.