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Yet when LaRoche came up again with two outs and first base open in the fifth, he was again intentionally walked.

“It’s a good idea,” Ortiz said. “We walk the left-hander and get to the right-hander.”

A good idea if Ortiz executed the way his manager wanted him to. Robinson said he didn’t necessarily want his starter to go after Diaz but rather to pitch around the No. 8 hitter and bring the opposing pitcher to the plate.

Instead, Ortiz (9-10) went right after Diaz and again paid the price, surrendering another RBI single that helped turn the game into a rout and sent the Nationals’ pitcher to the showers.

“Each time he hit, it was two outs and a base open somewhere with the pitcher on deck,” Robinson said. “Under the circumstances, he’s not supposed to have a chance to do damage to you. None. … You’re not supposed to be pitching to him.”

Everything after that was academic. Reliever Ryan Wagner served up Jones’ second homer of the night, then Hughes surrendered his third — an upper-deck shot in the eighth that capped a remarkable night for the perennial All-Star, who just came off the disabled list Sunday from a strained oblique muscle.

“I guess he’s healthy,” Nationals catcher Brandon Harper said.

“[Hitting three homers] was probably the furthest thing from my mind,” Jones said. “And that’s probably why it happened. It was quite a thrill.”

But not as big a thrill as Diaz was about to experience. With two outs in the seventh, he tapped a slow bouncer up the middle. Shortstop Felipe Lopez fielded the ball and fired on the run to first, but the throw bounced several times and Diaz beat it out for an infield single — his record-tying 10th in as many at-bats.

The previously unknown outfielder became the 11th player in NL history to accomplish that feat, the first since Cincinnati’s Bip Roberts in 1992.

“It’s not something you prepare for,” Diaz said. “You don’t expect coming into a game, after having a good day yesterday, to have four hits in a row again.”

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To

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