Stop the presses! The Nationals have won a ballgame!
Behind Shairon Martis’ quality start and home runs from Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Elijah Dukes and Alberto Gonzalez, Washington beat the Phillies tonight, 8-2, snapping its seven-game, season-opening losing streak.
Nice effort all around from the Nats, from the starting pitching to the defense to the power display to the relief work.
Willingham, Dukes and Gonzalez provided some insurance runs with their solo homers, each to left field over the final two innings. The Nats then kept their foot on the gas, scoring four total runs in the eighth. That’s something this team has needed to do more regularly: Pile on.
That made life easier for the bullpen — and prevented Joel Hanrahan from having his first save opportunity of the year. That said, this was still a close ballgame in the seventh when Manny Acta first turned to the pen.
Up 3-2, Acta let Shairon Martis start the seventh, just to face one batter. Martis got Lou Marson (great baseball name) to pop out, then after the Phillies announced Greg Dobbs as a pinch-hitter, Acta called for lefty Mike Hinckley. Charlie Manuel countered with Eric Bruntlett, but Hinckley delivered by getting the pinch-hitter to ground out and then Jimmy Rollins to fly out.
Joe Beimel then took care of the heart of the Philly order in the eighth, again with the game still close. Hanrahan then mopped up the ninth.
So there you have it: The Nats are 1-7 and flying high. They’ll head into the weekend series against the Marlins on … a winning streak!