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The Nats bats came alive Tuesday night against
the Chicago White Sox as Washington rode four home runs to a tight 8-7 victory.
Last season’s 21-game winner Gio
Gonzalez worked deep into counts through five innings of work against Chicago,
throwing 99 pitches (57 for strikes). Although it wasn’t easy, Gio proved
effective, giving up his only run in the first inning on a controversial balk
call that scored Jeff Keppinger from third.
Gio settled down after allowing three baserunners in the first,
striking out seven batters in the outing and only allowing four hits and two
walks. Gio’s quiet dominance was almost blown by the recently shaky Nats
bullpen on numerous occasions.
Washington received offensive contributions from throughout the
lineup. Span reached base three times and scored two of the Nat’s eight
runs. Shortstop Ian Desmond had his own solo shot in the fifth, his
second of the year, which would give the Nats a temporary lead of 2 to 1. Save
Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman, every National had at least one hit.
The Nationals gained the lead for
good in the sixth inning via Jayson Werth’s two-run homer that scored leadoff
man Denard Span – making the score 4-2. The blast pushed Werth past the
500 RBI mark for his career. Two batters later, LaRoche followed with his own
two-run homer to right field – his first of the season. LaRoche would hit
another homer in the 8th – a solo shot that concluded the Nats’ scoring.
LaRoche’s second bomb chased White Sox starter Jake Peavy from the game
after 5.1 innings.
Entering the seventh inning with a four run lead, reliever Tyler
Clippard gave up a three-run homer to veteran Paul Konerko that brought the Sox
within one run. The Nats would extend their lead by two runs in the bottom of
the inning – making the score 8 to 5. But the White Sox would not go quietly.
Setup man Drew Storen had a
encouraging 8th inning as he set down the side in order while striking out two.
The Reds roughed up Storen last Saturday when he was tagged for two runs,
one earned, in one inning of work. Tonight’s showing from the former closer was
an impressive indicator that the righty is back on track. Having Storen
embrace his new setup roll with dominance is essential to the Nat’s success
Washington would hang by a thread
once more in the ninth. Closer Rafael Soriano, trying to forget his blown save
from last Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds, allowed a two-out, two-run home
run to Alex Rios that would again push the Sox within one run of tying the
game. Despite the ninth inning scare, Soriano got Konerko to fly out and end
the game. Soriano earned his third save of the year in four attempts.
Peavy was saddled with the loss,
his first of the season.
Before the eventual volley of
scoring that would send Nat’s fans home happy, Bryce Harper once again fell
victim to a personal baserunning blunder. In the first inning, with two outs,
Harper tried to extend a routine bloop single into a double and was called out
at second by more than five feet. The mental error adds to recent
criticism from Manager Davey Johnson saying Harper “can’t control his emotions.
He is going to have to learn.” As long as the 20-year-old continues
to hit for average and power, the Nats will do just fine while Harper continues
to play and learn the league.
The Nats are back at it Wednesday at 7:05 as Jordan
Zimmermann squares off against Gavin Floyd. Be sure to check out our full