Nationals set a record with six homers in win
Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano jogged a few steps back and quickly realized he should not have even bothered.
The ball hit by Nationals rookie Tyler Moore in the fourth inning soared high above Soriano's head on a steep arc that put it well into the left-field bleachers. It was one of six homers for Washington in an eventual 11-5 victory over Chicago at Nationals Park on Tuesday night.
Moore, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Jesus Flores and Adam LaRoche, twice, all homered for Washington, setting a record for the most in a home game by any big league team based in the District. That also tied a franchise record for most homers in any game, road or home, since the organization relocated from Montreal in 2005. The team also hit six homers on May 20, 2011, in a 17-5 win at Baltimore
"This is something that I think going all the way back to spring training we knew we were capable of doing," LaRoche said. "Unfortunately with some injuries and some streakiness this year we haven't had six, seven-game outbursts like this where we've been able to go out and score seven, eight, 10 runs. So it's nice. We owe this to our pitchers for them bailing us out the first couple months."
That power display gave the Nats (83-52) a third win in a row and sixth in seven overall. With the second-place Atlanta Braves (76-60) losing to the Colorado Rockies 6-0, Washington's lead in the National League East is up to 7? games with 27 remaining. The Nats' magic number -- the combination of their own wins and Atlanta's losses -- to clinch the division is down to 20 games.
Starting pitcher Edwin Jackson (9-9, 3.63 ERA) lasted 52Ú3 innings for Washington, though it wasn't until the sixth that Chicago's batters did much damage. Only one runner reached base through the first three innings -- a single by Anthony Rizzo in the first. In the fourth, Jackson wiggled free from a first-and-second, no-out jam with a 1-6-3 double play. He struck out five consecutive Cubs in a span bridging the fifth and sixth innings.
But with two outs and none on in the sixth, Jackson lost his touch. A single, a walk and a two-run triple by Soriano cut the Washington lead to 8-3. Jackson then gave up a run-scoring infield single. Suddenly at 8-4 an easy night took on an added challenge.
"When you change your approach things happen like they did with two outs in the sixth inning," Jackson said. "You allow a good team that can still swing it to come back in the game [with] late-inning runs. Fortunate enough we had a big lead, but games like this you definitely like to pitch further into the game."
But it was too little, too late for Chicago. Zimmerman led off the sixth with a homer. In the seventh, Bryce Harper doubled, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a Jayson Werth single.
Soriano homered in the eighth to make it 10-5. Werth finished his night 4-for-5 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. Desmond hit a two-run homer in the first to get the game started off right for Washington and drove home two more runs with a two-run double in the second. Flores began that inning with a solo homer of his own.
All three of the Nats' runs in the sixth came with two out. LaRoche hit a rare opposite-field homer to left, his 26th of the season. Danny Espinosa doubled and Moore crushed that pitch above and beyond Soriano in left. LaRoche hit his second of the game in the eighth inning -- this time to his normal right field -- to close the scoring. "
"[The Cubs] battled back. I feel like we kind of had to keep the pressure on them," Desmond said. "Anything can happen. We saw that earlier in the year [losing a 9-0 lead to Atlanta]. It was good that we stayed at it and it was a good win."