Nats keep hit pa­rade go­ing, belt five homers

NA­TION­ALS 14, REDS 4 Mur­phy goes deep twice as Washington rolls

The Washington Post - - SPORTS - BY JORGE CASTILLO

cincin­nati — Most teams don’t en­joy the lux­ury of grant­ing a day off to an all-star first base­man who stands in the top 10 in base­ball in bat­ting av­er­age and slug­ging per­cent­age with­out feel­ing the ef­fects, es­pe­cially with three other ev­ery­day play­ers on the dis­abled list.

But most teams don’t pos­sess the fire­power the Washington Na­tion­als un­leash on an ev­ery­day ba­sis. Most teams don’t em­ploy three other po­ten­tial MVP can­di­dates in the mid­dle of the or­der, and most teams don’t have a backup ca­pa­ble of step­ping right in and mash­ing.

So Ryan Zim­mer­man’s ab­sence from the lineup Sunday af­ter­noon at Great American Ball Park went un­no­ticed dur­ing Washington’s 14-4 thrash­ing of the Cincin­nati Reds. With­out him and four other reg­u­lars in the lineup, the Na­tion­als (55-36) chased Reds starter Homer Bai­ley af­ter four-plus in­nings, stock­piled 17 hits and cracked five home runs to se­cure their third straight win out of the all-star break.

“If you’re on my team, every­body plays,” Na­tion­als Man­ager Dusty Baker said. “We ex­pect them to do the job, which they are, and we had a big of­fen­sive pro­duc­tion to­day.”

Daniel Mur­phy smacked two of the homers, fol­low­ing Bryce Harper’s two-homer per­for­mance Fri­day and An­thony Ren­don’s two blasts Satur­day. It was the third time in fran­chise his­tory that the Na­tion­als have had three in­di­vid­ual multi-home run per­for­mances over three straight games — and the first time with three dif­fer­ent play­ers.

Adam Lind, start­ing in place of Zim­mer­man, also par­tic­i­pated in the home run flurry, wel­com­ing re­liever Ariel Her­nan­dez in the fifth in­ning with a two-run shot shortly af­ter Mur­phy belted a three-run homer. Ren­don added his third in two days in the seventh in­ning, tuck­ing a blast

just in­side the left field foul pole against for­mer Na­tional Drew Storen. Three bat­ters later, Jose Lo­ba­ton, start­ing for catcher Matt Wi­eters, who was given the stan­dard day-game-af­ter-night-game breather, crushed a tworun home run to cen­ter field. The three-run in­ning gave Washington its 17th dou­ble-digit run game of the sea­son, two more than any other team in base­ball.

“It’s just a tes­ta­ment to our of­fense grind­ing out at-bats,” Mur­phy said.

Tan­ner Roark rode the sup­port for six in­nings, al­low­ing three un­earned runs on four hits, right­ing the ship af­ter en­ter­ing with an 8.78 ERA over his pre­vi­ous six out­ings. The right-han­der over­came a rocky first in­ning to re­tire the side in or­der in the sec­ond. Then a strange episode cost him two runs in the third. Bai­ley led off and struck out on three pitches, and the third pitch was a curve­ball down out of the strike zone that Lo­ba­ton ap­peared to catch be­fore it hit the ground. Home plate um­pire Tim Tim­mons ruled it as such, so Lo­ba­ton threw the ball to third base to ini­ti­ate the around-the-horn rou­tine.

But Bai­ley dashed for first base think­ing the ball hit the ground, which would have re­quired Lo­ba­ton to throw to first base to re­tire him. And first base um­pire James Hoye agreed with Bai­ley, over­turn­ing the home plate um­pire’s call. As a re­sult, Bai­ley reached safely, tech­ni­cally on an er­ror by Lo­ba­ton, which was charged to him five in­nings later fol­low­ing mass con­fu­sion on how to score it. Baker emerged to discuss the rul­ing with Tim­mons, but the play wasn’t re­view­able, per rules. So he walked away per­plexed with­out a change.

“Strange play, but it worked out for them,” Roark said. “What­ever.”

The mix-up im­me­di­ately plagued Roark. Billy Hamil­ton fol­lowed with a single. Jesse Winker then walked. Two bat­ters later, Wilmer Difo booted a po­ten­tial in­ning-end­ing dou­ble play ground­ball off Adam Du­vall’s bat as Bai­ley scored. Hamil­ton then scored the Reds’ sec­ond run on Scooter Gen­nett’s ground­out be­fore Roark es­caped.

The Reds (39-52) added an­other un­earned run in the fifth in­ning — fol­low­ing a rare er­ror by Ren­don at third base — but that was all against Roark. The right-han­der ended his day with a nifty play, charg­ing a swing­ing bunt from pinch hit­ter Aris­mendy Al­can­tara and throw­ing him out af­ter toss­ing his 101st pitch. Roark, whose pre­vi­ous out­ing was five in­nings of re­lief, hadn’t al­lowed three or fewer runs over at least six in­nings since May 29.

“I just told him to start his sea­son all over,” Baker said. “He’s 1- 0 in the sec­ond half, and hope­fully he can build off that.”

This time, a day af­ter a de­ba­cle nearly erad­i­cated a 10-run lead, anx­i­ety was evaded in the late in­nings. With Sean Doolit­tle and Ryan Mad­son on their way from Oak­land to bol­ster the be­lea­guered re­lief corps, Enny Romero, Joe Blan­ton and Trevor Gott com­bined to al­low one run and pre­serve an­other gi­gan­tic lead, one cre­ated with per­haps the most pow­er­ful de­pleted lineup in base­ball.

DAVID KOHL/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Daniel Mur­phy, left, cel­e­brates his first home run Sunday with An­thony Ren­don and Wilmer Difo.

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