- - Thursday, August 2, 2018

Daniel Murphy slid into home plate in the third inning and clapped his hands with glee, with his no-longer white pants planted in the dirt like a 10-year-old’s during playground recess.

Murphy had just scored yet another run for the suddenly-potent Nationals, who erupted for six in the second inning and defeated the Cincinnati Reds 10-4 Thursday night at Nationals Park. Shortstop Trea Turner had two hits, including a homer, and drove in four runs and Bryce Harper blasted a long homer — his 26th — in the eighth.

Third-place Washington (55-53), which scored 25 runs Tuesday, has won three straight and six of its last eight. Washington began the day five games back of the first-place Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East.

The Nationals certainly didn’t need a huge offensive outburst with Max Scherzer on the mound, but they broke through anyway as Reds starter and loser Tyler Mahle (7-9) didn’t get past the second.

And Scherzer (15-5) aided the cause, getting a hit and a victory in his fifth straight start while winning his league-high 15th game. In six innings he struck out 10 batters and leads the league with 210.

The offensive firepower came just hours after several of the Nationals spent Thursday afternoon at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in southeast Washington.

That included outfielders Juan Soto and Adam Eaton and third baseman Anthony Rendon, who has become the team’s liaison at the academy.

“Hitting is definitely contagious,” Rendon told 106.7 The Fan. “We know we have not played to our full potential. We finally have a full lineup. We are going to get on that bandwagon and roll with it. We will make that (playoff) push.”

Rendon was 1-for-5 Thursday while Eaton, hitting in the leadoff spot, was 1-for-4 with a run and RBI.

Soto, 19, was 1-for2 and had three walks just hours after he was named the National League rookie of the month for July – the second straight time he has been honored.

“I feel very happy. I know what I work (for) is success. I feel very good,” Soto said.

The Nationals erupted for six runs in the last of the second inning for a 6-0 lead.

Matt Wieters drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly and Scherzer made it 2-0 with an RBI single. Later in the inning, Turner had a two-run single, and Harper and Soto walked with the bases loaded to make it 6-0.

Eaton had an RBI single in the third to score pants-stained Murphy for a 7-0 lead.

The Reds finally solved Scherzer in the fourth, as Eugenio Suarez cranked a two-run homer to make it 7-2. Turner and Harper homered in the eighth to account for the final tally.

“We have to continue to fight all nine innings and we will be successful,” Eaton told The Fan. “We are tired of playing around. I think we have responded the right way. We have to make the most of it. We have to make headway in the division.”

While the Reds are in last in the National League Central, they actually have a better record than the Nationals since June 1. The Reds are 22-24 while the Nationals are 22-30.

The series continues Friday at 7:05 p.m. with Gio Gonzalez (6-7, 3.78) pitching for Washington against Anthony DeSclafani (4-3, 5.47) of the Reds.

NOTES: It was Department of Commerce Night and Decade Night (‘90s) at Nationals Park. Karen Dunn Kelley, undersecretary of the Department of Commerce, threw out the first pitch … Injured pitcher Stephen Strasburg began throwing Wednesday off flat ground. “I watched him yesterday, and he was throwing the ball real good,” manager Dave Martinez said … Turner swiped his 30th base in the sixth.

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