The Washington Times - May 7, 2011, 12:13PM

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — There were a lot of encouraging things for the Nationals to take out of their 3-2 extra-innings victory over the Marlins Friday night, but almost all of them were on the pitching and defensive side.

It was exactly the type of game that Nationals manager Jim Riggleman has been insisting his team needs to win — one where they don’t get a slew of offensive production but do the little things right. Jayson Werth worked three walks, including the one that put him on base to score the winning run.


Ian Desmond brought home the Nationals’ second run on a sacrifice fly despite going hitless in two other at-bats, and Adam LaRoche knocked in the game winner on another sacrifice fly out.

LaRoche’s, of course, took the spotlight because it produced the game-winning run. But it was important for another reason: it was solid contact for LaRoche who literally asked hitting coach Rick Eckstein to check the video for a hole in his bat after his third at-bat of the night.

“I told Rick today, I’ve got to have a hole in my bat,” LaRoche said. “I was like, you need to go watch the video and tell me if there’s a hole in the middle of my bat. I feel like I’m all over it and I’m either swinging under it or over it.

“I feel decent and some of the pitches I’m getting in the zone, I’m swinging right through them. I’m not sure how, just kind of one of those modes right now. It was nice to get something in the air right there and get us that run.”

LaRoche is a slow starter. He knows it, the Nationals coaches know it and the rest of the league knows it. That said, he’d most likely agree that he didn’t expect to have a .200 batting average and .303 on-base percentage on May 7. 

But he’s also gone 4-for-11 with two doubles and two RBIs in his last three games.

“Slowly, it’s coming back,” he said. “But again, it’s kind of at-bat to at-bat. I felt pretty good (Thursday) and coming into (Friday) and didn’t do a whole lot.”

He, and the rest of the Nationals will get another crack at igniting their offense when they face right-hander Chris Volstad tonight at Sun Life Stadium. Last time out, they were able to put together three runs early off Volstad — and several Nationals have done well in the past against him — but they ultimately fell 7-4 late.

Here’s how the Nationals have done in the past against Volstad: 

Danny Espinosa: 1-for-3 (.333), 1 K

Alex Cora: 1-for-2 (.500), 1 2B

Jayson Werth: 1-for-22 (.045), 1 BB, 7 K

Wilson Ramos: Never faced

Adam LaRoche: 3-for-8 (.375), 1 RBI, 1 BB, .444 OBP, 2 K

Michael Morse: 3-for-10 (.300), 1 RBI, 1 BB, .364 OBP, 2 K

Ian Desmond: 9-for-15 (.600), 3 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, .588 OBP, 1 K

Jerry Hairston Jr.: 2-for-8 (.250), 1 BB, .333 OBP, 1 K

Tom Gorzelanny: Never faced


Ivan Rodriguez: 5-for-15 (.333), 6 RBI, .313 OBP

The Nationals are also expected to call up Roger Bernadina before tonight’s game. He’s 2-for-10 (.200), 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K