Stephen Strasburg, Carlos Gomez

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws out Milwaukee Brewers’ Carlos Gomez on a bunt attempt during the third inning of a baseball game Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Four wins and three losses during the week of June 23 left the Nationals with a 43-38 record and tied for first place in the NL East with the Atlanta Braves.  The Nationals beat the Milwaukee Brewers in two games on the road, before splitting a four-game series with the Cubs in Chicago.

June 23-25: Nationals Take Two from Brewers

The Nationals shut out the Brewers, 3-0, in Game One on June 23, thanks in large part to the pitching of starter Gio Gonzalez. Gonzales pitched the first six innings to near perfection, giving up just three hits. The Nationals’ bullpen maintained control of the game and Tyler Clippard closed out the ninth inning for his first save of the season. Right fielder Jayson Werth led the game with three hits and first baseman Adam LaRoche had two hits, a home run and three RBI.

The Nationals also won Game Two, outlasting the Brewers in 16 innings for a 4-2 win.  Starter Jordan Zimmermann went six innings, allowing two earned runs and just six hits. The Nationals’ bullpen didn’t give up another run, but it took until the 16th inning for outfielder Ryan Zimmerman to blast a two-run home run to push Washington ahead. Zimmerman had three hits and third baseman Anthony Rendon also had three hits and a home run.

But the Nats blew their shot at a series sweep over the Brewers with a 9-2 loss in Game Three on June 25. The Nationals struggled offensively with just two hits and starter Stephen Strasburg fell apart over five innings, giving up seven earned runs and two home runs with just two strikeouts.

Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span catches a fly ball hit during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Saturday, June 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

June 26-28: WashingtonSplits Four-Game Series with Cubs

Washington started a new series on June 26 in the same way they ended the Brewers series.

Poor hitting and pitching resulted in a 5-3 loss to the Cubs in Game One. Starter Doug Fister lasted six innings, but gave up seven hits and three earned runs. Relief pitcher Craig Stammen didn’t do much better, giving up two more earned runs in two innings. Washington had just eight hits on offense and couldn’t put together any scoring runs in the final two frames.

The Nats losing streak extended to three games with 7-2 loss to the Cubs in Game Two on June 27. LaRoche hit his 10th home run of the season, but Washington had just seven hits as a team and couldn’t make amends for starting pitcher Tanner Roark’s poor start to the game. Roark allowed 10 hits and four earned runs in six innings.

A June 28 doubleheader proved the cure for Washington’s ails, as the Nats won 3-0 in Game Three and 7-2 in the Game Four nightcap. Gonzalez started the first game and allowed just two hits in seven innings. Rafael Soriano closed out the ninth inning for his 19th save of the season. The Nationals didn’t need much offense for the win; Rendon led the way with three hits and one RBI.

Washington finally woke up on offense in the second game of the day as LaRoche and catcher Wilson Ramos both hit home runs and the team had 10 hits total, the first time they recorded double-digit hits in three games. Blake Treinen got the win while Ross Detwiler earned the save.

Next-up: The Nationals will host the Colorado Rockies in a three-game home series at Nationals Park on June 30 to July 2. Washington will then host the Cubs in a three-game series on July 4 to 6.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor