Tyler Moore, Michael Taylor

Washington Nationals center fielder Michael Taylor (3) celebrates with thirdbase coach Bob Henley after hitting a grandslam in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Washington Nationals continued their winning ways in the month of May, winning four of six games from May 11 through May 17, including series victories on the road over the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres. Washington holds a 22-17 record, and sits in second place in the National League East.

May 11-13: Nationals Win Two on Road Against Diamondbacks
The first contest in a seven-game West Coast swing brought Nationals Manager Matt Williams back to Chase Field, where he was afirst- and third-base coach for Arizona before joining Washington.  In Game One on May 11, Denard Span hit a leadoff home run into the right-field seats as Washington went on to crush Arizona.  Ryan Zimmerman also homered in the first inning as the Nationals scored 10 runs in the first two innings. Washington’s potent offense gave ace pitcher Max Scherzer a sizable cushion to work with; he allowed only one run through seven innings of work.  Scherzer (3-3) shut out the Diamondbacks before giving up a home run in the sixth.

Game Two on May 12 saw starter Stephen Strasburg continue his puzzling season. Strasburg delivered possibly the worst start of his young career en route to a 14-6 loss. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Nationals. Diamondbacks’ Mark Trumbo’s mammoth three-run homer into the second deck in left field with one out in the fourth inning ended Strasburg’s night. The eight runs allowed were a career worst for Strasburg (2-4), and the seven earned runs he gave up matched a career high.  Bryce Harper hit his seventh home run in six games in the losing effort.

In the rubber match of Game Three, pinch hitter Michael Taylor turned a negative episode for Washington into a positive outcome by crushing a game-winning grand slam in the ninth inning for a 9-6 comeback win. Harper was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing with the home plate umpire and Washington surrendered the lead in the eighth. But Taylor’s clutch homer, combined with reliever Drew Storen throwing a perfect ninth inning, gave the Nationals their fifth straight series win.

Washington Nationals’ Wilson Ramos flies out while batting against the San Diego Padres during the third inning in a baseball game Saturday, May 16, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

 May 14-17: Washington Takes Series over Padres

In the Game One of a four-game set in San Diego, the Padres hit a combined three homers off Washington starter Doug Fister in a 8-3 win for San Diego. Former National Derek Norris, now with the Padres, contributed with five RBIs. A two-hour rain delay seemed to have an effect on Fister, who had his worst start of the season, allowing seven runs and eight hits in just two innings pitched.

Jordan Zimmermann continued his mastery of the Padres in Game Two at Petco Park, striking out six batters and allowing only six singles in a 10-0 shutout for Washington. The Nationals offense contributed a season-high 16 hits, which included Bryce Harper’s 13th of the season. Zimmermann (3-2) improved his record at Petco Park to 3-1 with a 0.50 ERA in five starts.

In Game Three, Scherzer was nothing short of brilliant, striking out 11 Padres in seven innings in a 4-1 victory. The win marked Washington’s 14th victory in 18 games. Scherzer (4-3) set a personal season-high in strikeouts and allowed only four hits and two walks. Wilson Ramos’s RBI single was part of a three-run first inning for the Nationals and extended his career-best hitting streak to 18 games, the longest in the majors this year.

The Bryce Harper Show continued in Game Four, as he went 3-for-4 at the plate with four RBI, including his 14th home run of the season. Strasburg gutted through five innings and delivered seven strikeouts to notch the win in a 10-5 Nationals victory. Harper improved his batting average to .338 in the young season, along with 37 RBIs.  Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa hit a two-out, three-run homer to give his team the decisive runs.

Analysis: In the month of May, the Nationals have gotten healthy, and with health comes production. Production for this roster should make them a dominant force in the National League, and that is exactly what the team has been over the last four weeks.  With Harper developing into a legitimate MVP candidate and the Nationals getting key contributions from Danny Espinosa and Yunel Escobar, the offense has revved up and the wins have piled up.

Next: The New York Yankees come to town for two-game series on May 19 and 20, followed by a three-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies from May 22 to 24.