Thru 4 1/2: Nats cruising

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Amazing how a team can look so wretched one night and then look completely functional the next afternoon. Such is the sport of baseball, as the Nationals are proving today.

After getting trounced 11-3 last night in one of the uglier games of the season, Washington has jumped out to a 7-1 lead halfway through today’s series finale. Some horrible Marlins pitching has contributed to that — starter Chris Volstad lasted three innings and allowed five runs on five hits, five walks and a wild pitch — but the Nats have taken advantage of that.

Despite fielding a lineup without Ryan Zimmerman or Josh Willingham, Washington put its first five batters on base in the top of the first, scoring three of them. Elijah Dukes provided the big hit: a two-run single to right. Two innings later, Pete Orr blasted a two-run homer, his first big league bomb since June 7, 2006 when as a member of the Braves he took Nats right-hander Ramon Ortiz deep. (As Ortiz would say: “It’s crazy, man!”)

John Lannan, meanwhile, hasn’t been at the top of his game — he’s allowed five hits and a walk through four innings — but he’s allowed only one run and barring a late meltdown will earn his first victory since Aug. 5.

Oh, and your daily Ian Desmond update: The rookie is 2-for-3 with a couple of singles and a run scored. He also struck out looking. So he’s now 8-for-11 with 14 total bases as a big leaguer.

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Mark Zuckerman

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