The Washington Post

Four-by-four-bag­gers

NA­TION­ALS 5, PADRES 2 Nats be­come the ninth team to slug four straight home runs

- BY JESSE DOUGHERTY PHO­TOS BY OR­LANDO RAMIREZ/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS Sports · MLB Baseball · Baseball · Washington Nationals · Washington Nationals · Washington · Stephen Strasburg · San Diego Padres · San Diego · New York Mets · New York · Philadelphia Phillies · Philadelphia · National League (Baseball) · Petco Park · Trea Turner · Adam Eaton · Anthony Rendon · National League East · Ian Kinsler · Trey Wingenter

A sunny af­ter­noon was quiet, a drag­ging game was still tied, and the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als’ of­fense was on the verge of wast­ing a dom­i­nant start by Stephen Stras­burg un­til . . .

Boom. And boom. And boom. And an­other big, loud boom.

That was the Na­tion­als slug­ging backto-back-to-back-to-back home runs in the eighth in­ning, breath­ing life into their lethar­gic bats and bury­ing the San Diego Padres in a 5-2 win Sun­day at Petco Park. The four con­sec­u­tive homers — the ninth time that has hap­pened in ma­jor league his­tory — were smacked by pinch hit­ter Howie Ken­drick, Trea Turner, Adam Ea­ton and An­thony Ren­don, all com­ing against former Na­tion­als re­liever Craig Stam­men. And they made a win­ner out of Stras­burg, who turned in an­other strong start by toss­ing seven innings and giv­ing up one run.

Ken­drick got it started with a 421-foot liner that crashed into the dig­i­tal score­board be­yond the left field wall. Turner fol­lowed with a 425-foot shot to cen­ter. Ea­ton’s 402-foot moon­shot just got over the fence in right-cen­ter. And Ren­don’s

trav­eled just 391 feet to right, rais­ing the ques­tion of whether it should have counted at all.

“So I went and looked at the exit ve­loc­i­ties, and he hit his the soft­est — I have no idea how it went out,” Turner said of Ren­don’s blast as the third base­man yelled, “Play the wind!” from one locker over. “He’s got it go­ing for him right now.”

They to­taled 1,639 feet in just four min­utes and turned a 1-1 tie into a 5-1 lead. They squeezed the dam­age into seven pitches, tak­ing ad­van­tage of a curve­ball fol­lowed by three sinkers that caught way too much of the plate. It was the se­cond time in club his­tory that the Na­tion­als hit four con­sec­u­tive homers, with the pre­vi­ous bunch com­ing July 27, 2017.

No one had done it since, and the Na­tion­als are the only team in MLB his­tory to do it twice. This is how those in­volved saw his­tory un­fold:

Ken­drick: “He just hap­pened to make a mis­take, and I haven’t had much suc­cess against Stam­men at all. So right there I was just happy to get the bar­rel on the ball.”

Turner: “I got a fast­ball over the plate and put a good swing on it.”

Ea­ton: “If you said four home runs, I would never be in that mix — any­where. The first one. The last one. In the mid­dle. I was happy that I was in there.”

Ren­don on whether the pres­sure was lifted once the Na­tion­als had built a lead: “No, not re­ally, be­cause you don’t want to be the one that doesn’t hit a homer.”

By split­ting the se­ries, tak­ing the last two games to do so, the Na­tion­als have not dropped one since they were swept by the New York Mets in a four-game set that con­cluded May 23. Since that fourth loss to the Mets, the Na­tion­als (30-35) are 11-4 and hang­ing within seven games of the first-place Philadel­phia Phillies in the Na­tional League East. This was al­ways go­ing to be a softer part of the sched­ule, but a dis­as­trous start added pres­sure to it. And still, to this point, the Na­tion­als have taken close to full ad­van­tage.

The Padres rolled out a stream of re­liev­ers in­stead of us­ing a tra­di­tional start­ing pitcher. That would seem to make it hard for a man­ager to craft a lineup, but the Na­tion­als’ Dave Mar­tinez wasn’t too fazed. He felt com­fort­able fac­ing the re­liev­ers in the last game of the se­ries, rather than the first or se­cond, be­cause his team had spent three days fac­ing San Diego’s bullpen. It may have taken a bit, but the of­fense even­tu­ally fol­lowed that logic.

“You’re get­ting a fresh pitcher ev­ery time, but they have to throw nine innings of re­lief,” he said. “Even­tu­ally, for me, that’s go­ing to catch up with them if we keep putting pres­sure on them and work­ing counts.”

Luis Per­domo got through 31/3 innings be­fore he was hooked, giv­ing up an un­earned run in the first af­ter se­cond base­man Ian Kinsler dropped a rou­tine pop-up. Next came Rob­bie Er­lin, who lasted 12/3 innings and did not give up a run. Trey Win­gen­ter threw a ca

reer-high two innings and mowed through the Na­tion­als. Then Stam­men en­tered and couldn’t stop giv­ing up home runs.

Stras­burg, on the other hand, knifed through the Padres by liv­ing in the strike zone. He threw 22 of 27 pitches for strikes in his first trip through the or­der. He worked in and out of jams, only giv­ing up a run in the fourth, and nav­i­gated around a few mis­takes be­hind him. And when his out­ing was fin­ished, with the score still knot­ted, Stras­burg had thrown 104 pitches and de­liv­ered an op­por­tu­nity to the of­fense.

“You just try to keep the score as close as pos­si­ble for the chance of that hap­pen­ing,” he said. “And it did to­day.”

The out­burst came in the half in­ning af­ter Stras­burg ex­ited, so he was able to hang on it with ev­ery­one else. Ken­drick’s solo homer was his 11th of the sea­son, and he is only seven from the ca­reer high he set in 2011. Turner’s was a good sign as he con­tin­ues to get right af­ter break­ing his right in­dex fin­ger in April. Ea­ton, who hit just five homers last sea­son, has six this year and three since May 22. And Ren­don, the an­chor of Wash­ing­ton’s surg­ing lineup, had Stras­burg jump­ing up and down, arms raised, face filled with a smile as his team­mates danced around him in a cramped dugout.

Bun­dled to­gether, once Stam­men left to boos and the Na­tion­als’ cel­e­bra­tion cooled, those four swings of­fered them his­tory and yet an­other win. They were thrilled to be a part of both.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that,” Mar­tinez said be­fore de­cid­ing that, no, he def­i­nitely hadn’t. “I liked the first one, for sure; that put us ahead. And then it was wow . . . wow . . . and

 ??  ?? 3. Adam Ea­ton de­liv­ered two pitches af­ter that, driv­ing a sinker 402 feet into the stands in right-cen­ter field.
3. Adam Ea­ton de­liv­ered two pitches af­ter that, driv­ing a sinker 402 feet into the stands in right-cen­ter field.
 ??  ?? 4. An­thony Ren­don capped the surge two pitches later with a 391-foot homer to right on yet an­other sinker.
4. An­thony Ren­don capped the surge two pitches later with a 391-foot homer to right on yet an­other sinker.
 ??  ?? 2. Trea Turner fol­lowed two pitches later, send­ing a sinker 425 feet to cen­ter and ex­tend­ing the Na­tion­als’ lead.
2. Trea Turner fol­lowed two pitches later, send­ing a sinker 425 feet to cen­ter and ex­tend­ing the Na­tion­als’ lead.
 ??  ?? 1. Howie Ken­drick’s pinch-hit homer off a curve­ball with one out was a 421-foot line drive that gave the Nats a 2-1 lead.
1. Howie Ken­drick’s pinch-hit homer off a curve­ball with one out was a 421-foot line drive that gave the Nats a 2-1 lead.
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