The Washington Nationals lead the National League East division by 1.5 games after winning three of their last five games from July 21 to July 26. The Nats took two of three from the Colorado Rockies in Denver before splitting the first two games of a three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati. The Nationals hold a 56-45 record as of July 27.

Danny Espinosa

Washington Nationals’ Danny Espinosa slides safely into third base with a steal against the Colorado Rockies in the fifth inning of a baseball game in Denver on Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

July 21-23: Nats Win Two of Three Over Rockies

Washington opened its week with an impressive 7-2 win over the Rockies in Game One of a three game serieson July 21. Shortstop Ian Desmond was on fire from the plate with a game-high five hits, including his 17th home run of the season. Starting pitcher Doug Fister lasted into the sixth inning, but gave up two earned runs on nine hits.

The Nationals rallied to claim a 7-4 win in Game Two. Jordan Zimmermann got the start and surrendered four runs before being pulled after the fifth inning. However, Nats relievers Craig Stammen, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano, shut out the Rockies the rest of the way. First baseman Adam LaRoche broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh inning with a three-run homerun, and Soriano earned his 23rd save of the year.

Another rally in Game Three fell short, however, as the Rockies claimed a 6-4 win on July 23. Starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg allowed nine hits and four earned runs in five innings, and Colorado took a 6-2 lead by the seventh inning. A series of four two-out singles in the ninth inning, including a pair of RBI base hits from right fielder Jayson Werth and third baseman Anthony Rendon, made the score 6-4, but shortstop Ian Desmond struck out to end the comeback bid.

Bryce Harper, Zack Cozart

Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper (34) safely returns to second under Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart (2) after a pickoff attempt in the fourth inning of a baseball game, Friday, July 25, 2014, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)

July 25-26: Nationals Split Two Games with Reds

Washington claimed a 4-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in Game One of a three-game road series. Starting pitcher Tanner Roark was stellar on the mound, allowing only three hits and one earned run in seven innings. Soriano picked up his 24th save. Center fielder Denard Span led the team with four hits and one RBI.

But the Reds scratched out a 1-0 win in Game Two as Washington struggled to generate offense. The Nationals had just four hits and wasted a strong start from Gio Gonzalez, who lasted seven innings and gave up only four hits and one run with eight strikeouts.

Next Up: Washington will take on the Marlins in a three-game series in Miami from July 28 to July 30, and then host the Philadelphia Phillies in a four-game series from July 31 to Aug. 3.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor