WASHINGTON, D.C. -- When you see Democratic and Republican lawmakers patting each other on the back, wearing their hometown baseball team jerseys and posing for pictures with "fans," you know you are not in the Capitol building anymore.
The 55th Congressional Baseball Game, played between Democrats and Republicans at Nationals Park on Thursday night, saw senators and House members compete to raise close to $500,000 for charity.
More than 60 members of Congress and several thousand fans attended. Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Sleep-deprived Democrats, who had earlier ended a 25-hour sit-in on the House floor over gun control, broke their seven-year winning streak, losing to Republicans 8-7.
Republicans roared out of the gate with a 6-1 lead after six innings before Democrats threatened to steal the game by scoring six runs in the late innings. But the GOP closed the deal by scoring a walk-off winning run to win the game.
Star pitcher Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana was the Democrats' jeweled prince -- fans swarmed for selfies with him. Even GOP team manager Rep. Joe Barton of Texas called Richmond the Democrats' all-star. Richmond, who played baseball for Morehouse College in Atlanta, has been part of the winning Democratic side for the last five years, with 45 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched.
"He is a good pitcher, he throws hard, he bats well, he is an all-around good athlete, and they'd [Republicans] love to have him," said the Democrats team manager, Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania.
Richmond did not have his best game Thursday, giving up six runs in six-plus innings.
On the Republican side, the team counted on pitcher Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina. Rep.
"Mark's a good pitcher. He has a funky knuckleball and he has a great attitude," Barton said.
Doyle and Texas Rep. Roger Williams, a GOP coach, rallied the team: "Let's go get this boys ... Let's bring it home."
Doyle, who played on the field for 12 years before switching to coaching, said he looks forward to the event every year.
After a sleepless night due to the sit-in, Doyle said the players wanted to leave partisan disagreements behind and compete for a good cause. The congressmen have been practicing since March, said Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga.
Doyle and fellow Democrat Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania posed for a photograph with their team jerseys – Pirates for Doyle and Phillies for Boyle – eliciting a round of laughter from the congressmen. Doyle joked that members of those two major-league teams would probably never pose together – their fans would be outraged.
Thursday's game benefited the Boys and Girls Club of Washington, the Washington Literacy Center and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.