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Big bats show up for Nationals in slugfest win

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,Brian McNally

Desmond, LaRoche and Werth all go deep

Asked before Tuesday's game against the Chicago White Sox how he felt about his red-hot catchers, Nationals manager Davey Johnson acknowledged the strong starts to the 2013 season from Wilson Ramos and Kurt Suzuki. Then he joked that maybe he needed to start platooning the rest of his lineup to get similar results.

That won't be necessary, apparently. Ian Desmond, Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche -- twice -- all homered for Washington en route to an 8-7 victory over Chicago at Nationals Park.

Desmond hit a solo home run in the fifth inning and Werth and LaRoche both followed with two-run homers in the sixth off White Sox starter Jake Peavy, who until then had allowed just one run on six hits with one walk. But thanks to three Nats' mistakes on the base paths -- two runners thrown out trying to stretch singles into doubles and another caught stealing -- Peavy was rarely in danger.

But a conference on the mound with interim pitching coach Bobby Thigpen turned sour when Peavy's first-pitch fastball to Werth was smashed into the left-field stands. That broke a 2-2 tie. Minutes later, LaRoche, who had missed the previous two games with a sore back, laced a pitch directly over the 402 foot sign in dead center to make it 6-2.

That lead didn't stay comfortable for long. Set-up man Tyler Clippard walked a batter and allowed a single in the seventh inning before Chicago slugger Paul Konerko launched a three-run homer to left to make it 6-5.

Werth added an insurance run in the bottom of that frame, however. Steve Lombardozzi drew a pinch-hit walk and then took third on a two-base throwing error by White Sox reliever Donnie Veal. Werth smacked an RBI single into left field to make it a 7-5 lead for Washington.

The Nats won despite a shaky effort from left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez, who needed five innings to throw 99 pitches. Gonzalez struggled from the start, but at least kept the damage to a minimum. He threw 33 pitches in the first inning alone, allowing a pair of singles and a walk. But just when it appeared he would escape unscathed, Gonzalez balked home a run. He screamed into his glove in frustration and was still hot as he left the mound a few pitches later.

Chicago put runners at first and second in the third, but Gonzalez stuck out Dayan Viciedo. A double in the fifth by Alejandro De Aza gave Chicago another shot at a run, but Jeff Keppinger popped into a 6-4 double play with De Aza running on the pitch.

Washington reliever Drew Storen pitched a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts. LaRoche followed with his second homer of the game, this time to right field. Ryan Zimmerman had earlier driven home a run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Closer Rafael Soriano, who suffered a minor leg injury during Saturday's win in Cincinnati, was back on the mound and earned his third save -- though not before giving up a two-run homer in the ninth to Alex Rios. The Nats improved to 5-2 and remain unbeaten at home in four games.

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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