At 12:49 a.m. Sunday morning Saturday night’s dramatic and exhausting slugfest with the Atlanta Braves lasting into the following day Dan Haren fired the game’s 518th pitch. He struck out Jordan Schafer on a splitter and high-fived catcher Wilson Ramos who crouched behind the plate for all 15 innings. Haren sealed the Washington Nationals’ 8-7 win the longest game in team history with his first-ever save. He was one of 18 pitchers to appear in the game along with 26 position players.

It felt like more than five and a half hours however had passed since the game began with drama. The Nationals and Braves took the field at 7:20 p.m. and by the end of the second inning neither starting pitcher was still in it. The frustration that had been brewing between these two teams finally erupted in the opening frame in the form of a Stephen Strasburg fastball to Justin Upton’s thigh. Then it devolved into hours of wildness misery and ultimately exhilaration.

“Golly what a battle” first baseman Adam LaRoche said.

Strasburg wouldn’t complete another inning tossed for the first time in his career after he fired three straight wild pitches in a strange sequence in the second inning.

Manager Davey Johnson also was ejected. Left fielder Scott Hairston joined them after arguing a called third strike late in the game forcing this ongoing saga’s central figure bruised Bryce Harper into action. With two outs in the ninth closer Rafael Soriano blew his second straight save.

The entire bullpen was used. Tuesday’s starter Haren volunteered for duty. Defensive replacement LaRoche provided the deciding home run.

The game had several standout performances: four dominant innings by rookie long reliever Tanner Roark in relief of Strasburg two bounce-back innings from rookie Ian Krol three late powerhouse innings from Craig Stammen Haren’s save and LaRoche’s homer. But the contest served as the venue for baseball players to settle old scores. An early bullpen implosion. A blown save. Twenty-two runners left on base. Thirty-six strikeouts. And two teams with budding distaste for each other.