With Sunday's win over the Milwaukee Brewers, the Washington Nationals took four of their last six overall after the six-game losing streak that dropped them a game below .500 for the first time since May 6th.
They fell a game below again after dropping the series finale in Colorado and the opener with the Brewers, but back-to-back wins over Milwaukee left them 62-61.
Unfortunately, the New York Mets continued to win this weekend, so the Nationals are now 5.0 games back in the NL East before they start a three-game set with the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night.
In the series finale with the Brewers, however, things went as planned for the Nats, who scored nine runs on nine hits in their 9-5 win.
Ryan Zimmerman came through with a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the first. Anthony Rendon's two-out walk in the third was followed by a Bryce Harper double, an RBI single by Ian Desmond (on a bounce that went the Nationals' way) and a base-clearing double by Danny Espinosa that bounced off the top of the out-of-town scoreboard in right.
Wilson Ramos hit a solo home run to right-center after the Brewers pulled within two in the top of the fifth, and then Rendon hit a two-out, three-run home run to drive Michael Taylor and Jayson Werth in after they each drew walks.
"In general, our team puts together some pretty long at bats," Matt Williams told reporters when the manager spoke after what ended up a 9-5 win.
"We've got good on-base guys, and then one swing of the bat it means potentially more than one run and that's how you get to games like today. Desi hustling down the line on the chopper and then Danny coming through with a near-homer with the bases loaded. Guys all over the basepaths is what we want and we'll have our opportunities to drive those guys in."
Particularly good for the Nationals, Williams explained, were positive signs from the Nats' recently-returned bats.
"Yeah, [Rendon is] getting there," Williams said. "His timing is better. Zim's timing is better. The double today and a couple of just-missed last night, so I think his timing is good. Jayson with the double in the first, so all of those guys are feeling their stroke a little bit better, which is a good sign for us."
As was Ramos hitting an opposite field single in his first at bat and the oppo-blast in the fifth.
"That's a long homer," Williams said. "That's the kind of power he's got. If he can elevate the pitch and elevate the way he hits the ball, then he can do that. Good single to right in the first at bat and then the homer. Good swings."
Williams was, of course, happy with the fact that the Nationals took two straight from the Brewers and four of the last six, but he didn't think it was a sign of a sense of urgency from the players taking hold just now.
"They've always had that sense," he said.
"It doesn't change from day to day. We have no choice, today included, to forget about it. It's over. So, when it's going the wrong way you have to do that too. So, 'sense of urgency', all of those terms, they have it every single day. They want to win every day."
They do, of course, have to start stringing some wins together and, at this point, hope the Mets manage to lose a few, though they have six games head-to-head with the division leaders remaining.
So can the back-to-back series wins over the Colorado Rockies and the Brewers help build some momentum?
"It can," Williams said. "Hey, losing streaks happen. Winning streaks happen. So our focus every day is to prepare and go play and be aggressive."
And if the offense continues to roll and keep the line moving like they did on Saturday and Sunday, that would help too.
"The offensive approach is important," the second-year skipper said.
"So, the typical at bats that we had today: Jayson at the top of the lineup saw a lot of pitches. Anthony worked counts. Zim walked a couple of times. So that just creates oppportunity. Those type of offensive at bats are important. Yeah, guys are going to hit the ball out of the ballpark on occasion, but that's not the measure of our success.
"It comes from those extended at bats, and extended innings, so that offensively I hope continues to happen. We've got to go on balls in the dirt, we've got to catch it, we've got to pitch it, all of those things. So if we can continue to do that, we've got a chance."