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Democrats snag series lead in Congressional Baseball Game

A D.C. tradition unlike any other, the annual Congressional Baseball Game took place at Nationals Park Thursday night.

WASHINGTON — Rep. Cedric Richmond overcame shoulder surgery and tossed a seven-inning complete game, leading the Democrats to 5-2 victory over the Republicans in the 54th Annual Congressional Baseball Game.

Heading into Thursday night’s contest at Nationals Park, the political foes had an even record against each other, dating back nearly 100 years. The victory Thursday gives the Democrats the overall edge, and perhaps more importantly, seven consecutive wins.

“Whether I was at 60 or 100 percent, the Republicans played well this year,” said Richmond, D-La., who had surgery on his labrum about six months ago. “It hurt like hell.”

At the plate, Richmond doubled and stole a total of three bases.

The annual tradition came in the middle of a tense debate on Capitol Hill over President Barack Obama’s trade agenda. Shortly before first pitch, members were on cellphones talking about the vote on Friday.

In the middle of the game, Obama made a surprise appearance from the Democrats’ third-base dugout. He shook hands, posed for photos and tried to curry goodwill ahead of the vote.

“He walked in the gate, and I struck out for the first time in six years,” Richmond joked of the president. “And then they started getting hits on me and I was like, ‘I can’t wait until he leaves.'”

The Republicans outhit the Democrats, but couldn’t capitalize on base runners.

Freshman Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., took the ball for the Republicans.

He mixed in a knuckleball to keep hitters guessing.

“You grow up thinking about playing in a big league park one day,” he said. “Who knew at 46 you’d have that opportunity.”

The largest roar from the crowd came when Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., entered the game in the 6th inning as a pinch-hitter. The only woman on either roster wasted no time, lining a first-pitch single into right field.

The Republicans tried to rally late, when Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., ripped an RBI-double that reached the center field wall. It would have been a sure triple at least, but he limped into second base holding his hamstring.

“The physical therapist is going to stretch me out at 8:30 a.m., but then we’ll put up the tough votes,” he said.

The Democrats now lead the all time series 39-38-1.

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