Their manager quit, and their interim skipper was ejected in his first game in the new role.
The Washington Nationals keep winning anyway, and help could be on the way. General manager Mike Rizzo has talked to veteran Davey Johnson about replacing Jim Riggleman, who resigned Thursday.
Interim manager John McLaren was thrown out in the eighth inning Friday night, but the Nationals still went on to a 9-5 win over the Chicago White Sox in 14 innings for their 12th victory in their last 13 games.
McLaren said he would run the team again on Saturday. After that, who knows?
Johnson, who has managed four major league teams and led the Mets to the 1986 World Series title, is considered the leading candidate, although the team said after the game it had no announcement.
The 68-year-old Johnson has been a senior adviser with the Nationals since 2009. He also managed the Dodgers, Reds and Orioles.
"I think Davey is a great baseball guy," said Ryan Zimmerman, who capped the 14th with a two-run double after Brian Bixler scored the tiebreaking run on shortstop Alexei Ramirez’s throwing error.
"A lot of us were around him in spring training," Zimmerman said. "We’ve got a good team here. We’ve got a great group of guys and whoever is the manager, whether it’s Davey or whoever it is, they’re going to be real happy with what we have here."
Riggleman stepped down after a 1-0 win over Seattle on Thursday, upset he couldn’t get a conversation with Rizzo about the team picking up his option for 2012. The stunning move came with the Nationals playing their best ball of the season.
"They put things behind them and played the game with as much intensity as I’ve seen in 24 years," McLaren said. "The team is on the move and it was a great win for us."
Bixler, who entered in the eighth when outfielder Jerry Hairston and McLaren were ejected, hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the 12th. But A.J. Pierzynski homered on an 0-2 pitch from Tyler Clippard with two outs in the bottom half to tie it at 5.
In the 14th, Bixler reached on an infield hit against Matt Thornton (0-4) and stole second. Ian Desmond hit a grounder to Ramirez, whose low throw hopped past first baseman Mark Teahen as Bixler scored to give the Nats the lead.
Roger Bernadina then singled in an insurance run before Zimmerman added his two-run double.
Collin Balester (1-0) pitched two innings of scoreless relief.
Laynce Nix’s homer off closer Sergio Santos put the Nationals up 4-3 in the 10th. But Chicago tied it in the bottom half when Todd Coffey threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded.
Starters Jordan Zimmermann of the Nationals and Edwin Jackson of the White Sox each threw seven shutout innings. The game got crazy when the bullpens got involved.
Michael Morse hit a two-run homer off Brian Bruney in the eighth and the Nats added a run in the ninth on Ian Desmond’s RBI single for a 3-0 lead. But Teahen connected for a pinch-hit drive in the bottom half following singles by A.J. Pierzynski and Brent Lillibridge off Drew Storen.
"We just never could get the lead," Pierzynski said. "It was like Teahen with the pinch-hit home run in the ninth, coming back a couple of different times in extra innings."
McLaren and Hairston were long gone by the time the game ended, incensed by a strange sequence in the bottom of the eighth.
Paul Konerko hit a grounder to shortstop Desmond, who fumbled the ball and threw wide to first. Morse tried to tag Konerko as he went by, and umpire Mike Estabrook initially ruled Konerko out. But after Konerko protested, the umpires conferred and reversed the call—after the Nationals had left the field.
An irate McLaren raced out to protest and was quickly ejected. Hairston also was thrown out and had to be restrained by third base coach Bo Porter.
"I released a little anger," said McLaren, acknowledging that he touched the brim of an umpire’s cap with his finger.
"I didn’t do it on purpose, but I’ll take full responsibility. I respect the umpires. I don’t think you all have ever seen me like that. I’m usually the guy in the dugout trying to keep the peace and everybody on an even keel."