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Image: Matt Slocum/AP/Press Association Images

Long day at the office: Phillies need 19 innings to record 5-4 victory over Cincinnati

WATCH: Second baseman Wilson Valdez pitches a hitless 19th inning to give Philadelphia a win after six hours and eleven minutes.
May 26th 2011, 4:28 PM 113 0

WILSON VALDEZ HAS a new career as a late-inning reliever.

Late. Really, really late.

Valdez shifted over from second base and wound up as the winning pitcher early Thursday when the Philadelphia Phillies needed 19 innings to outlast the Cincinnati Reds 5-4.

In front of a dwindling crowd at Citizens Bank Park, Raul Ibanez hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to decide the longest major league game of the season. It ended at 1:19 a.m. local time after 6 hours, 11 minutes.

Shaving cream nestled in his beard and dripping off his ear in the locker room, Valdez wanted to keep pitching.

“I can go for three more, four more (innings). Whatever,” he said.

Who knows? The Phillies might need him on short notice

Not much time for rest, either. The teams were set to play again Thursday at 1:05 p.m.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel strolled through the clubhouse after 1:30 a.m. wishing everyone a good morning.

He had every reason to smile because of Valdez.

Valdez threw a hitless 19th inning in his first professional pitching appearance. Phillies fans stood and chanted “Let’s go, Wilson!” when the 33-year-old Valdez shifted from second to the mound.

The first batter he faced was Joey Votto, and the reigning NL MVP flied out to deep center field.

Valdez acted like a seasoned closer. He hit 90 mph on a fastball to Votto. He shook off catcher Dane Sardinha. And he showed no fear.

“If he hits a home run, they’re not going to say anything to me,” said Valdez, laughing.

Not bad for a journeyman infielder who became the first position player to earn a win since Colorado catcher Brent Mayne on Aug. 22, 2000, according to STATS LLC. Mayne went one inning in a 7-6 victory over Atlanta in 12 innings.

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Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard put his mitt over his face to hide his smile when Valdez shook off his catcher.

“I was like, ‘What is he going to throw? What does he have?’” Howard said. “It was funny, but he got it done.”

Some fans, young and old, already were asleep in the stands as the game played on. But plenty of the die-hards who stuck around made it a lively atmosphere, especially when Valdez took over as Philadelphia’s ninth pitcher.

Valdez threw one pitch to the backstop and hit Scott Rolen. But the Phillies’ newest right-hander then retired Jay Bruce on a fly ball and got Reds reliever Carlos Fisher (0-1) on a popup.

By the time it was over, the Reds and Phillies still had a long way to go to match the latest-ending game in the big leagues this year. It was 2:45 a.m. at Fenway Park when the Los Angeles Angels beat Boston in the 13th inning of a rain-delayed game earlier this month.

– AP

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