Who knows what it is...? Is it Jim Riggleman's influence? Is it the stern talking-to he gave the Nationals a few weeks back? Is it having Elijah Dukes back in the lineup? Is it Josh Willingham hitting well in the 5-spot behind Adam Dunn? The combination of Nyjer Morgan and the slap-tastic Cristian Guzman at the top of the order? The suddenly-solid bullpen, led by Mike MacDougal, who's converted 10 of 11 save opportunities, or Sean Burnett, who before tonight, hadn't allowed a run since surrendering a home run to these same Florida Marlins in his first appearance for DC back on July 1st? Tyler Clippard? Could he be the difference? Or maybe it's the fact that Ryan Zimmerman has hit 7 home runs and collected 14 RBI's in his last 12 games with Adam Dunn behind him going deep 4 times and driving in 15 runs over the same stretch? Whatever it is, the Washington Nationals, after tonight's 5-4 win over Florida, are 8-4 in their last twelve games, and with a win tomorrow against the Marlins, DC's favorite baseball team will have a season-high five-game win streak and a three-game series sweep for the first time this year...
Sweep the Fish? The Fish who came to DC Tuesday 9-0 against the Nationals in '09?
Tonight's Win? Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn hit back to back blasts in the first, to the right field corner for Zimmer-- THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! and the upper deck in right for Adam Duh--SHAKE...N...BAKE!!! Cristian Guzman hit an RBI double in the second and an RBI triple in the third after Ronnie Belliard started the frame with a solo shot to left. It's 5-1 Nationals after four. DC lefty John Lannan allows just 2 runs on 8 hits in 6.0 IP, 5-2 when Lannan leaves, then 5-4 DC after lefty reliever Sean Burnett gives up a leadoff single and a walk, both of which score though righty Jorge Sosa gets out of the seventh with the one-run lead. Sosa comes back with a 1-2-3 eighth and then Mike MacDougal gets two groundouts and a sweet swinging K out of the best hitter in the league, and the third best in baseball, Hanley Ramirez to end it.
Nationals win, 5-4 final.
• Doghouse - "Game 108: The Curse is Dead."
• Miss The Game? The DC Faithful Were Watching...
• Check Out The SB Nation's Florida Marlins Blog: FishStripes Open Thread And Ichthyomancy.
• The Guz Is Streaking!!!
• "Cool Hand" Gets It Done.
For The Completists, Full Game Report After The JUMP...
Nationals now 36-72. (Countdown To 100 Losses Stuck At...28).
BACKPAGE: (Under Construction)...
• The Guz Is Streaking!!!
Of all the hot hitters currently in the Nationals' lineup, Cristian Guzman might actually be the hottest. After going 3 for 4 with 2 RBI's tonight, including the game-winner on a triple in the fourth, Guzman's 24 for 51 (.471) over his current 12-game hit streak, collecting 5 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HR's (2 walks) and 15 RBI's along the way, and he's seen his average jump from .290 when the streak began on July 23rd to .314 after his home-run-short of a cycle performance against the Marlins. After hitting .256 for June, with a .270..., .a 270 OBP, Guzman's 10 for 21 through the first 5 games in August.
• "Cool Hand" Gets It Done.
John Lannan (8-8, 3.39 ERA), earned his eighth victory of '09 with 6.0 innings of work on the mound tonight, over which he allowed 8 hits but just 2 ER. Lannan threw 102 pitches, 65 for strikes, inducing 9 groundouts and 3 flyouts, while striking out 6. In Lannan's last start before this evening's, on the road in Pittsburgh, the Nationals' 24-year-old lefthander gave up 9 hits and 5 ER in 7.0 IP, but before that Lannan had two strong starts in a row, surrendering just 1 ER in 17.0 IP, with a complete game shutout win over the Mets and no-decision in DC's extra-inning win over the Padres in which Lannan gave up just 1 ER in 8.0 innings pitched.
Lannan got help from the Nationals' D tonight. Ryan Zimmerman took a hotshot to the hot corner off his chest in the third after a two-out single, double and walk had loaded the bases, and only a diving barehand play kept Florida from cutting into the lead. In the fifth, Lannan got a double play grounder with runners on first and third and no outs, surrendering a run, but limiting the damage in what was then a 5-2 game in DC's favor, and in the sixth he gave up a one-out double to Cody Ross and a single to Ronny Paulino before striking out Emilio Bonifacio and pinch hitter Ross Gload to end his final frame of the game. Sean Burnett gives up 2 ER on 1 hit without recording an out, but the newest member of the DC bullpen, Jorge Sosa, settles things down and preserves Lannan's lead, giving "Cool Hand" the win when Mike MacDougal finally saves it.
Florida Marlins At Washington Nationals. Game 108 Of 162.
Chris Coghlan flies out to Nyjer Morgan in center field. Nick Johnson grounds weakly to first for his replacement Adam Dunn. Jorge Cantu K’s staring at a curve that breaks corner to corner left to right across the zone...Nyjer Morgan tests Dan Uggla, who’s up to it. Rick VandenHurk pops Cristian Guzman up and out with one pitch. Ryan Zimmerman takes a fastball on the outside edge and lines it to the right field corner and GONE!!! Ryan Zimmer-THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! 1-0 Nationals. Adam Du-- SHAKE N BAKE!! SHAKE N BAKE!!! Adam Dunn goes upper deck in right, too close to the scoreboard to believe!!! 2-0 Nationals. Josh Willingham chases a two-strike fastball up and in and K’s to end the first.
John Lannan gives up a HR to left and into the Nationals’ bullpen on the first pitch of the second to Dan Uggla. 2-1 Nationals. Cody Ross grounds to the hole at short, Cristian Guzman backhands and fires to first, in time. Ronnie Belliard throws to Adam Dunn to get Ronny Paulino. John Lannan walks the wrong guy, since all Emilio Bonifacio can do is run. VandenHurk K’s on a grounder in the dirt and Wil Nieves has to throw to first to end the Marlins’ second...Elijah Dukes lines out to straight center. Ronnie Belliard K’s swinging at VandenHurk’s heater. Wil Nieves grounds into Nick Johnson’s glove.
Chris Coghlan grounds out to Ronnie Belliard at second. Nick Johnson grounds so weakly to short he almost beats Guzman’s throw. Hanley Ramirez hits a two-out single to left, and Jorge Cantu follows with a sharp liner over third and off the seat that extend out into left field. John Lannan walks Dan Uggla this time around, loading the bases. Cody Ross grounds sharply to third and off Zimmerman’s chest, but Zim knocks it down, barehands it as he dives and throws to first, in time!!...John Lannan leads off the third with a groundout. Nyjer Morgan takes one on the toe. Morgan takes second, of course, and he scores when Cristian Guzman doubles to right. 3-1 DC. Ryan Zimmerman grounds out to Jorge Cantu. VandenHurk gives Dunn the intentionals. Josh Willingham loads the bases with an excuse-me single in front of the plate. Elijah Dukes lines out to second.
John Lannan throws a two-strike change by Ronny Paulino. Emilio Bonifacio lines out to first, and Lannan gets the opposing pitcher swinging...Ronnie Belli-YARD!! Belliard takes VandenHurk deeep to left and over the wall, 4-1 DC!!! Wil Nieves K’s swinging for the first out of the fourth. John Lannan K’s chasing. Nyjer Morgan beats out a bunt. Cristian Guzman rips a line drive to right and to the wall, Cody Ross gets there, but he has no chance, Morgan scores, Guzman in safely at third, 5-1 Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman flies out to end the fourth.
Chris Coghlan singles to right to start the fifth. Lannan vs Johnson? Nick Johnson grounds to first and under Adam Dunn’s glove. First and third, no outs for Hanley Ramirez, who grounds to Belliard to Guzman to Dunn, double play. Run scores, 5-2. Cantu grounds out to short...Brian Sanches is on for VandenHurk in the fifth. Hanley Ramirez backs up into left to catch Adam Dunn’s pop out. Josh Willingham lines right back at Sanches, and into his glove. Elijah Dukes takes a two-out walk. With Belliard up, Elijah Dukes gets caught trying for second.
Dan Uggla flies out to Dukes in right. Cody Ross lines to left, and it ties up Willingham who dives desperately at the end but misses it. Ronny Paulino singles, first and third, one out. Lannan throws a two-strike curve by Emilio Bonifacio. Ross Gload goes down looking, backwards K to end the top of the sixth...Ronnie Belliard flies out to Emilio Bonifacio. Luis Ayala gets a grounds ball to second out of Wil Nieves. Jorge Padilla!!! In HIs FIRST MLB AT BAT fouls off a few but lines out to right.
Sean Burnett surrenders a leadoff single to Chris Coghlan in the seventh. Nick Johnson uses his Discerning Eye™ to draw a walk. Jorge Sosa replaces Burnett with Hanley Ramirez at the plate. Ramirez pops up and Dukes drops it after hustling over to foul territory in right. Ramirez hits what should be a DP grounder to third, but Zimmerman bobbles and settles for the force. Jorge Cantu flies out to center, Morgan gets under it. Both runners advance when Nyjer Morgan throws to third ill-advisedly. Dan Uggla lines a full-count fastball to center, and two runs score. 5-4 DC. Cody Ross K’s swinging...Renyel Pinto gives up a leadoff walk to Nyjer Morgan. Morgan takes second right away. Cristian Guzman lines to left, Morgan pulls up around third, and races back to the bag. Guzman’s forced at second on a grounder by Ryan Zimmerman. Adam Dunn K’s chasing. Josh Willingham will face Brendan Donnelly, who gets a swinging K to end the seventh.
Ronny Paulino grounds out to short. Jorge Sosa’s back on the hill. Emilio Bonifacio grounds to third, Zimmerman fields and fires to first. Sosa drops a two-strike change off the outside edge to get Hermida swinging for a 1-2-3 eighth...Matt Lindstrom gets a line drive to Bonifacio out of Dukes. Ronnie Belliard lines out to Chris Coghlan in left. Wil Nieves grounds to short, and Heeeee’re We....GO!!
Mike MacDougal vs Chris Coghlan. Coghlan grounds out to second. Nick Johnson grounds out to second. Hanley Ramirez vs MacDougal...two-strike slider and a swinging K!!! MacDougal gets him!! Nationals win. Nationals win. Four-straight for the Nationals. 5-4 final.
Nationals now 36-72.