After a homestand where they took two of three from the Chicago Cubs in dramatic fashion, the Washington Nationals had won five of their last six, eight of 10, and 12 of their last 16 games, playing at a .750 clip since May 29. Add one more win to each as they kept up the good results on the start of a 10-game, 11-day, three-city road trip in San Diego on Thursday night, topping the Padres 8-5 at Petco Park to move a season's best 17 games over .500..
Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Anthony Rendon all hit home runs, and Tanner Roark turned in a workmanlike six innings allowing seven hits and two walks, striking out five.
After the Nats (42-25) went in order in the first, Roark got off to a bit of a rough start. Travis Jankowski led off with a single to center, went to second on a free pass to Wil Myers, and scored on Matt Kemp's seeing-eye single. Yangervis Solarte flied out, but Melvin Upton singled up the middle to plate Myers, who was running on the play. Fortunately, Roark was able to coax a double-play ball from Ryan Schimpf, just recalled from AAA, to end the damage.
The Nats got one back in the top of the second. Wilson Ramos reached out and poked a slider up the middle for a single. Clint Robinson followed with another single. Anthony Rendon grounded to third, forcing Robinson at second and moving Ramos up to third. Stephen Drew then came through with a sac fly to center to plate Ramos, but Danny Espinosa grounded out to end the inning.
With two outs in the third, Jayson Werth singled to left. Then -- what comes as good news to everyone that roots for the Nats -- Bryce Harper hit an opposite field homer, his first of June and 14th of the season, to put the Nats up 3-2. Ramos followed that with his 11th homer of the season, a big shot to right center -- the ninth set of back-to-back homers for the Nats this year, second in the bigs behind the Orioles.
In the bottom of the fifth, Myers drilled a one-out, first-pitch fastball from Roark against the facing of the second deck in left field for his 15th home run of the season.
Anthony Rendon got that one back in the top of the sixth, launching an 0-2 fastball to the stands in left center, his seventh of the year.
In the bottom half, Melvin Upton Jr. led off with a single, stole second, stole third -- after replay overruled the original out call on the field -- and scored on a groundout by catcher Christian Bethancourt.
Former Marlins lefty Brad Hand took over for the Padres in the seventh -- but he didn't make it out of the frame. Ben Revere reached on a fielding error by Solarte at second, stole second, went to third on a Werth groundout, then -- after an intentional walk to Harper and non-intentional walk to Ramos -- scored on Clint Robinson's flyout to center. Rendon followed by crushing a ball to right center, but Kemp made a running, backhanded catch to rob Rendon for the third out.
Blake Treinen came on in the bottom half and worked himself into some hot water, with a walk and single with one out. But Ben Revere made a terrific diving catch of Solarte's sinking liner, and Treinen struck out Upton to preserve a scoreless appearance.
The Nats picked up a couple of insurance runs in the ninth. Revere led off with a single and went to third on Werth's single. Bethancourt tried to pick off Revere at third, but threw it into left and Revere trotted home, with Werth moving over to third. Werth then scored on Harper's single to center that Jankowski dove for, but trapped. Harper, quietly, is now hitting .317/.408/.439 over his last 11 games.
Felipe Rivero got into some trouble in the ninth, giving up a single and ground-rule double, and manager Dusty Baker called upon presumptive temporary closer Shawn Kelley. Kelley got Kemp to fly to center to plate a run and Solarte to ground out to put the win in the books.
WP: Roark (6-4) LP: Johnson (0-4) SV: Kelley (2) HR: Harper (14), Ramos (11), Rendon (7), Myers (15). E: Espinosa (7). Solarte (4), Bethancourt (1).
NEXT GAME: Friday at San Diego at 10:40 p.m. Joe Ross (5-4) faces Christian Friedrich (3-1, 2.12).
- After Wednesday's win over the Cubs, the Nats have won five of its last six, eight of its last 10, and 12 of its last 16 games, playing at a .750 clip since May 29. They've built a division lead from zero games to 5.0 games in that span. During this stretch, Washington is averaging 6.1 runs per game and is outscoring opponents, 97-61.
- At 41-25 (.621), the Nationals have posted their best record through 66 games in club history (2005-pres.), and matched the 1979 Expos for the best record in franchise history.
- The Nationals also boast the second-best record in the N.L., behind only the Cubs (44-20, .688). Washington’s 41-25 record is tied with the Texas Rangers for the second-best record in the Major Leagues.
- Jayson Werth’s walk-off single on Wednesday was his second walk-off hit in the last four games as the Nationals’ elder statesman also connected for a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth against the Phillies on Sunday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the shortest span of days between two walk-off RBIs for any player this season. Wednesday’s win was the Nationals’ fourth walk-off win of the season.
- Since his pinch-hit grand slam against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 29, Werth is hitting .340 with a .443 OBP and a .640 SLG. In that span, he has clubbed three doubles and four homers, walked 10 times and scored 10 runs while two of his 17 RBI drove in the game-winning run and three knocked home go-ahead tallies.
- As a group, the Nationals’ pinch hitters rank second in MLB/N.L. in home runs (9), and third in MLB (second in the N.L.) in slugging percentage (.662). On the season, the Nationals have 19 pinch hits, with 12 of them going for extra bases (3 2B, 9 HR). The nine pinch-hit home runs hit by the Nationals this season are already a single-season Nationals record (2005-pres.).
- Stephen Drew’s pinch-hit home run to give the Nationals the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning on Wednesday was his third pinch-hit home run of the season and pulled him into a tie with Chris Heisey for the most on the team, as well as the most in a career Nationals history (2005-present).
- Since June 1, the Nats' offense ranks among National League clubs in slugging percentage (1st, .472), OPS (1st, .817), on-base percentage (1st, .344), batting average (2nd, .282), and runs scored (2nd, 78). Their 92 strikeouts as a team are the second-fewest in the N.L. over this stretch.