Adam LaRoche's bat finally woke up last night and he led a parade of big hitters who battered the visiting Chicago White Sox pitchers, leading the home team to an 8-7 win last night at a warm and steamy Nationals Park.
"You get into the second week of the season," LaRoche said, "that's never a good feeling to look up there and not have a hit."
Washington's first baseman fixed that feeling last night, crushing two home runs to provide the winning margin. LaRoche scored two runs and drove in 3 RBI. He was 0-15 coming into the game last night. As a team, the Nats now have 10 homers in the last 3 games.
RF Jayson Werth and SS Ian Desmond also hit home runs and the top six batters in the lineup went 10-21 with 7 runs scored, 8 RBI and two walks. Said Werth after the game: "We've got a really balanced lineup. That's something that we have that most teams don't. It's tough on matchups. It's tough on pitchers, really," Werth said. "There's not really an easy spot in our lineup."
Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche (25) hits a two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Nationals Park.
Werth and LaRoche both smacked 2-run homers in the 6th to chase Chisox starter Jake Peavey and open a 6-2 lead. Werth cracked an RBI single in the 7th, driving in Steve Lombardozzi, and LaRoche later added a solo shot in the 8th, adding an insurance run the Nationals would later need.
That's because the team made plenty of mistakes on the basepaths and the pitching mound. Starter Gio Gonzalez struggled through five innings, balking in a run in a 33-pitch first inning, but otherwise wriggling out of jams. Gio left after the fifth inning, having given up only one earned run, but tossing 99 pitches to get there.
LF Bryce Harper and Gonzalez both got thrown out by White Sox RF Alex Rios trying to stretch singles into doubles. [Incidentally, Gonzo is now hitting .667. How long before Manager Davey Johnson starts using him as a pinch hitter?]
Even bigger problems occurred with the bullpen, though, as Nats relievers struggled to get the team out of the game with the win the offense earned. Craig Stammen [2-0] got the win despite giving up a run and three hits in the 6th inning. Tyler Clipperd come on for the seventh and promptly gave up 2 hits and three runs, with one of those hits going yard -- a two-out, three-run shot by DH Paul Konerko.
Drew Storen pitched the 8th and turned out to be the only Nats reliever in the game who didn't embarrass himself. Storen threw ten pitches, 7 for strikes, struck out 2 and retired the side in order.
However, Rafael Soriano got rocked again in the 9th inning, raising his ERA to 9.00. With one on and two outs and the Nats clinging to a precarious 3-run lead, Soriano gave up a 2-run homer to Rios, making the game an 8-7 nailbiter. Soriano managed to get Konerko to fly out to center, ending the game and giving Soriano his third save in four opportunities. Didn't feel like he earned this one, though.