Winning Streak Pushes Nationals to Second Place in NL East


(July 1-4) Washington Splits Series with Brewers

The Washington Nationals split their first series of the week against the Milwaukee Brewers and it all started with a 10-5 win in Game One. It’s been rare for Nats fans to be able to watch a fully healthy Washington batting lineup this season, but they were fortunate to have that moment on July 2 when Bryce Harper returned from the disabled list after sitting-out a month with an injury. Harper’s impact was immediately felt as he hit a home run in his first at-bat. His teammates fed off his energy as Jayson Werth had five RBI’s and Ryan Zimmerman had two RBI’s. It was the first game where Zimmerman, Werth and Harper had played together since April. Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmerman earned his 12th win of the season.

Unfortunately, the Nationals’ bats struggled in the next two games as Washington scored just one run through Game Two and Three combined. Brewer’s starter Wily Peralta pitched five shutout innings and Milwaukee’s bullpen sealed the deal for a 4-0 win in Game Two. The only bright spot in the game for Washington was Stephen Strasburg, who pitched seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts. But relief pitcher Drew Storen blew the game by giving up four runs in the eighth inning.

Game Three was another at-bat nightmare for the Nats, especially for the young gem Bryce Harper. Following his first inning home run in Game One, the 20-year-old batter went 11 straight at-bats without a hit. The rest of Washington’s batting order also struggled, recording just five hits in a 4-1 loss. Nats starting pitcher Ross Detwiler started off the game strong, giving up no runs through the first four innings. But he eventually cracked in the fifth inning for two earned runs and two more earned runs in the sixth inning. Brewers starter Kyle Lohse picked up the win, pitching eight innings with seven strikeouts.

Game Four of the series was just what the Nats needed as it would spark a three-game winning streak. Nats’ catcher Wilson Ramos returned from the disabled list just in time and revitalized the batting lineup with timely hitting. Facing a tied game in the seventh inning, Ramos smacked a three-run home run to help give Washington an 8-5 win; he finished the game with five RBI. Rafael Soriano earned his 22nd save of the season in the victory.

(July 5-6) Nats Take Back-to-Back Wins over Padres

Washington extended the win streak in their series against San Diego starting with another 8-5 victory on July 5. Ramos had three more RBI’s and Soriano earned another save, his 23rd of the season. Ace pitcher Gio Gonzalez lasted six innings for the Nats, striking out just five batters, but pitched well enough to get his sixth win of the season.

Soriano earned his third straight save, and 24th of the season, in a 5-4 win in Game Two against the Padres. Bryce Harper had three RBI’s and Adam LaRoche hit his 13th home run of the season.

Analysis:

The Nats (45-42 record) are three games above .500, good for second place in the National League East division, just five games out of first place behind the Atlanta Braves. They earned four solid victories during the week, thanks to the return of some of their best batters in Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos. Harper struggled in spots, but he’s young and filled with confidence so he shouldn’t have much of a problem regaining his hitting rhythm. The Nats proved that when they’re healthy, they can win plenty of games. If they can stay off the disabled list, they should remain in contention to win the NL East.

Nats Player of the Week: Wilson Ramos
Ramos only played in two games this week after returning from the disabled list, but his production in those games was enough to propel Washington to two wins. Ramos had eight RBI’s, five hits and a home run July 4-5.

Next-up:
Washington will face the Philadelphia Philles in a four-game series from July 8-11, and then will take on the Miami Marlins in a three-game series on July 12-14.

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Winning Streak Pushes Nationals to Second Place in NL East

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