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Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez on early leads; Nats’ seven home run barrage in CBP

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Davey Martinez knew the runs would come eventually, but a seven-home run, 17-run barrage? Hard to see that coming...

MLB: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

“We’ve got to start working better at bats early in the game,” Davey Martinez told reporters after a late rally by the Washington Nationals fell short in the series opener in Citizens Bank Park on Thursday night.

“We’ve got to try to score first, that’s the key, put the pressure on the other team, we’re not doing that right now,” the first-year skipper added.

Of course, the Nationals did score first that night, but gave it right back, and Martinez was likely speaking more generally than about that game in particular.

The Nationals didn’t score again until the ninth in what ended up a 4-3 loss in the first of four in Citizens Bank Park.

With some help from Phillies’ starter Nick Pivetta, who’d given up five home runs in his last four starts and 22 13 IP after giving up five total in his first 12 starts and 62 innings this year, the Nationals jumped out to an early lead in the second of four with Philadelphia, with Trea Turner and Juan Soto both hitting two-run blasts off the right-hander in the top of the first.

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Anthony Rendon improved to 2 for 2 on the night and 6 for 10 in his career vs Pivetta with a three-run blast in the second, and the Phillies’ starter didn’t last long after that, leaving the mound with a runner on and the Nationals up 7-0.

Bryce Harper hit an opposite field, three-run blast off Yacksel Rios on a 98 mph 0-1 fastball in the top of the fourth, and an RBI double by Wilmer Difo put the Nationals up 11-0.

Their 12th run of the game scored on a sac fly by Mark Reynolds in the sixth, before Brian Goodwin added the Nationals’ fifth home run of the night in the ninth, making it 13-7.

Juan Soto hit the Nationals’ sixth home run, his second of the night, one out later, with two runners on, 16-7, and Reynolds hit No. 7 for the Nationals before the top of the ninth inning came to an end, a solo shot that made it 17-7.

“We needed that,” Martinez said after the Nationals snapped a three-game losing streak in a big way. “The bats came alive and they came alive big, so hopefully they keep it going.

“I know it’s one game, but we needed that game and hopefully they come out tomorrow with the same intensity.”

As he’s said in the last few days, with all the talent on the team, they were going to hit at some point, after getting shutout in back-to-back games in Tampa Bay and scoring just three runs in the series opening loss in Philadelphia.

“It was just a matter of time,” he reiterated. “I really believe that these guys are good hitters, and we talked a lot about getting balls in the strike zone and working counts and today they were really good.”

He also talked before the second game with the Phillies about staying up the middle of the field, and how that would lead to good things for his hitters, telling reporters before the big outburst, “... the days we have good at-bats we have hit the ball up the middle.”

Is that the approach he saw on Friday night?

“I think their approach was to stay in the middle of the field,” he said.

“A lot of the home runs were more towards the middle of the field. Soto’s ball, left-center field first, center field, Harper the other way, but the approach was phenomenal today.”