The Washington Nationals moved into second place in the National League East and sit just a half-game behind the Atlanta Braves after winning three of four games this week and improving their record to 17-13.

April 29-30: Nationals Sweep Short Series with Astros
Washington kicked off the week with back-to-back wins over the Houston Astros in a short series. The Nationals beat Houston, 4-3, on April 29, and then shut out the Astros, 7-0, the following day.

In Game One of the series, first baseman Adam LaRoche had only two hits, but both hits drove in key runs late in the game to lift the Nationals to victory. Starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez delivered an average performance, striking out nine batters but allowing three runs, two earned, in six innings of work.

Game Two of the series went more smoothly for Washington as starter Jordan Zimmermann was nearly flawless, striking out seven and surrendering seven hits over 6-1/3 innings but keeping the Astros off the scoreboard. On offense, Washington leaned on third baseman Anthony Rendon, who had four hits, three RBI and a solo homerun. Second baseman Danny Espinosa also hit a homerun for Washington.

May 2-3: Nationals First Two Games with Phillies
The Nationals made it three straight wins after defeating the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-3, in Game One of a three-game series on May 2. Washington scored three runs in the eighth inning after trailing 3-2 for most of the game. Starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg didn’t give up an earned run but surrendered six hits with five strikeouts in six innings pitched. Closer Rafael Soriano picked up his sixth save of the season.

The winning streak came to an end as the Phillies came out swinging on May 3 and downed the Nationals, 7-2 in Game Two of the series. Starter Tanner Roark struggled against Philadelphia’s powerful bats, allowing seven earned runs in just four innings of work. Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and third baseman Cody Asche both hit homeruns. Washington also struggled on offense, generating just four hits.

Nationals Player of the Week:
Rendon had a very solid performance this week, recording six hits, four RBI, three runs and a homer in four games. His four hits, three RBI and homerun against the Astros on April 30 was one of the finest hitting performances of any Nationals player this season.

Next up:
Following the final game of the Phillies series in Philadelphia on May 4, Washington will return home to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three game series from May 5-7. The Nationals will then head to Oakland to face the Athletics in another three game series from May 9-11.


Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor