The Washington Nationals ended this past week in a five-game losing slump, losing their series with both the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins. The Nationals rank at the bottom of the National League East division standings with a 7-12 overall record, as of April 26.

April 19: Nats Beat Philly to Close Out Series

Stephen Strasburg allowed only one run, walked two and allowed five hits in his best start of the season as the Nationals took three offour from the Phillies for their first series win of the season.  Denard Span made his season debut a little earlier than anticipated as the fans greeted him to a well-deserved standing ovation.  He finished 1-4 for the day with 1 RBI. Drew Storen worked the ninth inning for his fourth save of the season.

Yunel Escobar

Washington Nationals’ Yunel Escobar hits the game winning solo home run during the 10th inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in Washington. The Nationals won 2-1, in 10 innings. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

April 21-23: Washington Wins Game One, Lose Next Two against Cardinals

In Tuesday’s opener of a three-game set versus arch nemesis St Louis, off season acquisition Yunel Escobar saved with a walk-off homer with two outs in the 10th inning to defeat the Cardinals in dramatic fashion by the score of 2-1.  Aaron Barrett (2-0) earned the victory, pitching the 10th inning after Drew Storen blew his first save of the season.  Gio Gonzales scattered eight hits over six but did not give up a run in his third start of the season. The win improved the team’s overall record to .500 for the first time this season.

In Game 2, Doug Fister was roughed up early, serving up five runs in the first three innings. He was bailed out by a five-run bottom of the third, highlighted by the aforementioned Yunel Escobar’s three-run double, but it was not enough. The bats were silenced from that point on as Nats killer Kolten Wong drove in the tying run in the eighth inning off Blake Treien (0-2) to end the game with 3 RBI’s and a 7-5 victory.

In the matinee rubber match on Thursday, Cards pitcher Michael Wacha out-dueled Max Scherzer, Matt Adams singled in the tiebreaking run in the sixth inning and the Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 4-1.  Six hits was all the lineup could muster against the young Wacha as he only allowed one run over six strong innings.  The Cardinals continued their overall mastery over the Nationals with no end in sight.

April 24-26: Nats Swept in Miami

In the Nationals’ first trip to Miami this season, the team lost all three games and was swept by the young Marlins.  In Game One, the young bullpen could not extend the game as Aaron Barrett gave up an inherited run on a single by Martin Prado as the Marlins won Game One by a 3-2 score.  Again, the Nats could only muster six hits, with two of those hits, and the only RBI, delivered by Bryce Harper.

In Game Two, Stephen Strasburg could not exorcize his Marlins Park demons, as he gave up four runs and eight hits through six innings in a 8-0 thrashing at the hands of Giancarlo Stanton – who homered in the eighth – and the Marlins.  So far in this early season, opponents are batting .317 against Strasburg, and his ERA rose to 4.88. He has a 5.65 ERA in eight career starts at Marlins Park.

Sunday’s finale was more of the same as defensive miscues (a botched rundown) and cold offense (four hits) lead to a 6-2 loss. The defending NL East champion Nationals (7-12) lost their fifth game in a row – their longest skid since July 2013 – and fell to fourth place in the division behind Miami.  Gio Gonzalez (1-2) allowed 10 hits and six runs in five innings, hiking his ERA to 5.01. The left-hander had previously won his past five starts against Miami, his hometown.

Next: Washington heads to Atlanta to face the Braves in a three-game road series, April 27-29. The Nationals then travel to New York to match up against the Mets, April 30 to May 3.