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The Nationals had no trouble with that on Thursday. Led by multi-hit days from LaRoche and Michael Morse and a three-run knockout punch of a triple by Steve Lombardozzi in the second inning, they chased Yovani Gallardo after five innings, tagging him for four runs in the second and three more in the fifth. They tacked on another in the seventh and did most of their damage (five hits, eight baserunners and six runs) with two outs.

Their usual post-game beats blared through the speakers in the visitors clubhouse at Miller Park. The numbers said this win was significant. That this win was special. The Nationals refused to agree.

“[The best record in the majors means] nothing,” said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. “It’s July. If we have the best record in September or October, then you can talk about it.

“We just come out and perform each night and try to win each night. If that puts us up there with the best teams in the league, then we’ll take it. We have a long ways to go.”