- - Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Symbols of the Nationals’ past and future were on display Tuesday night, with former star Jayson Werth and 2018 first-round draft pick Mason Denaburg at Nationals Park.

But the present team certainly didn’t appear as bright, as Eduardo Nunez, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez hit home runs to pace the Boston Red Sox in an 11-4 pounding of the Nationals before a sellout crowd of 42,531 fans on another humid night.

The third-place and wilting Nationals (42-42) have lost seven of their last eight games and began the day seven games back of the first-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East. With more than half of the season completed, the Nationals are a .500 team, which would have been hard to fathom last March.

“It’s hard to play from behind,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “Our starting pitching right now is not giving our offense a chance. In May, we were (20-7) and our starting pitching was really good. For some reason right now we are not doing that.”

Martinez has talked about accountability all season. So what does that mean to him?

“Hey, make better choices. Let’s move forward,” Martinez said, referring to homers allowed when his pitchers are ahead in the count.

The Nunez homer came on an 0-1 pitch from starter Tanner Roark, Bogaerts went deep on a 2-2 pitch from Roark and Martinez homered on a 1-1 pitch from reliever Matt Grace in the ninth.

Tuesday began with news that the Nationals were involved in trade talks with the Cincinnati Reds about pitchers Matt Harvey and Raisel Iglesias. The day ended with Roark (3-10) giving up a three-run homer in the second inning to Nunez and six runs and six straight hits in the fifth.

“It is definitely frustrating,” Roark said. “This is the best I’ve felt in a long time. (But) that’s a good team over there. You are human. I’ll go back … and stay consistent.”

Martinez had a two-run single, Steve Pearce had an RBI hit and Bogaerts drilled a three-run homer in the fifth frame for Boston (58-29), sending Roark to his fourth straight loss and lifting his ERA to 4.60.

The Nationals had trimmed the lead to 3-2 with run-scoring singles by Mark Reynolds and Roark in the fourth before the Red Sox broke loose to make it 9-2.

Catcher Pedro Severino hit his first homer in his 170th at bat of the season to trim the margin to 9-3 in the sixth, but J.D. Martinez went deep in the ninth for Boston to make it 11-3. Brian Goodwin homered in the ninth for the hosts.

Why did Martinez let Roark bat in the last of the sixth and the score 9-3?

“I have to think about tomorrow,” he said of an 11:05 a.m. game Wednesday with the Red Sox. “We have an early game tomorrow.”

The two-time defending division champion Nationals continue to leave runners on base. Trea Turner and Juan Soto (bunt) each singles to start the first inning, but then the next three batters were retired. Michael A. Taylor struck out with the bases loaded to end the fifth against reliever Heath Hembree.

Washington is now 8-17 this season against left-handed starting pitchers, and Boston southpaw Brian Johnson continued that trend in only his third start of the season even though he wasn’t credited with the win. Boston’s Brandon Workman picked up the win.

Memories of Werth, 39, bring more pleasant thoughts to the Nats’ faithful. He played outfield for the Nationals from 2012-17 and was part of four division-winning teams. He retired last month after signing a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners.

Signed on Tuesday, Denaburg was drafted as a pitcher out of a Florida high school last month. “(I’m) pretty excited about that,” Martinez said of Denaburg.

Just 18, Denaburg he is several years from taking the mound at Nationals Park.

The team needs pitching help and in many other areas right now, and Roark wasn’t the answer on Tuesday night.

“They base-hit me death. What are you going to do?” Roark said.

Right now, that is the main question for the Nationals — from the general manager to the manager to the players.

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