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Nationals win four straight vs Pirates, five overall: Davey Martinez on trying to keep things rolling, cleaning some things up...

The Nationals swept the Pirates, and they’ve won five straight, but there’s room for improvement, of course, and Davey Martinez wants to make sure they stop giving opponents extra outs...

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Washington’s fourth straight win over the Pittsburgh Pirates gave the Nationals five straight wins overall, and got the back-to-back defending NL East champs back to .500 (16-16) and within 4.0 games of the currently division leaders, the Atlanta Braves (19-11).

With six wins in the last ten games the Nationals are starting to turn things around after a rough start to the 2018 campaign.

“We lost a ton of one-run, two-run — just a lot of close ballgames there early,” right-hander Jeremy Hellickson told reporters after throwing 5 23 scoreless against the Pirates, “... so I think — everybody in here knew it was going to turn around, and it’s definitely nice to get four. You never really expect to get four, but especially against these guys it was good to get four.”

“It’s awesome,” Davey Martinez said when the Nationals’ manager was asked about the four-game sweep of the Bucs.

“Guys are playing well, they’ve been playing well, for the guys to gather 4-5 wins in a row, it’s awesome, and I just want them to keep going, keep playing hard, that’s it.”

That’s not it-it though, since Martinez said he’d also like to see the Nationals clean some things up.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The Nats had two chances to turn double plays late in Thursday’s game, and didn’t manage to do it, and Wilmer Difo let a foul pop fall to give the Pirates extra outs, something the first-year skipper has said from the start this season the Nationals have to avoid.

Howie Kendrick misplayed a grounder with Ryan Madson on the mound on what could have been an inning-ending double play that instead loaded the bases, and a second ground ball to second in the next at bat could have gotten Nationals’ closer Sean Doolittle two outs, but the Nats settled for one when they couldn’t turn a 4-6-3 DP.

“For me it’s just, they work, there’s no doubt about it,” Martinez said when asked about his current double play combination. “They work with [Tim Bogar], and just like I said, in those big moments, we’ve got to get those outs, we have to.”

As for the foul pop that Difo let drop in the ninth? It was far out in foul territory in left field.

Should the Nationals’ shortstop have been over there making an attempt at it a reporter asked in the manager’s post game press conference? Should Difo have made the catch?

“No, I mean, you think [Turner] should be there, and you’re right about it,” Martinez said, “but Difo was there, and the ball was hit so high, he just misplayed it, and like I said, these are the little things that we need to clean up. Giving away outs, shouldn’t happen.”