The weekend in review for the Nationals (Sunday's recap includess previews and standings information)...
Nationals 4, Colorado Rockies 2
WP: Esteban Loaiza (7-8)
LP: Jamey Wright (6-13)
S: Chad Cordero (38)
The Nationals used a three-run first inning against the Rockies to get back in the win column after dropping their last two against the Astros. Nick Johnson had an RBI double and Jose Guillen had a two-run single in the first inning to give the Nats a lead that they would not give up. Esteban Loaiza pitched 6.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits to get the win.
Brian Schneider hit an RBI double in the fourth inning to make it 4-1.
Chad Cordero worked a scoreless ninth to record his 38th save.
Nationals 8, Colorado Rockies 0
WP: Tony Armas Jr. (7-5)
LP: Byung-Hyun Kim (3-9)
The Nationals put on an offensive display at Coors Field on Saturday, scoring in five different innings to take an 8-0 win and guarantee a series victory over the Rockies.
Tony Armas Jr. scattered nine hits in six innings of shutout ball, and six different Nationals had RBIs in the victory. There were no homers in the game, but Vinny Castilla, Nick Johnson, Brian Schneider and Jose Guillen all had RBI doubles (Johnson had two). Cristian Guzman and Preston Wilson both had RBI singles, and Guillen added a sacrifice fly.
Nationals 9, Colorado Rockies 2
WP: John Patterson (7-3)
LP: Jose Acavedo (2-3)
WAS: 62-55 (3rd in NL East, 5.5 behind Atlanta, 0.5 behind Philadephia, 1 ahead of Florida, 3 ahead of New York; 1 behind Houston for Wild Card)
Just three days after falling three games behind Houston for the Wild Card in what Frank Robinson said was the lowest point of the season, the Nationals are back within one after sweeping the Rockies. Houston helped out by dropping the last two games in a three game set with Pittsburgh, and the Nationals are still in the midst of a tight playoff race.
On Sunday, the Nationals blew out the Rockies for the second straight day, scoring nine runs before Colorado got on the board. Nick Johnson led the way with four RBIs while Preston Wilson and Jose Guillen each added a pair of their own. The Nats put up five runs in the fifth inning, including a three-run bomb by Johnson.
John Patterson was stellar again for Washington, pitching eight innings and giving up just one run on nine hits. He struck out five Rockies in lowering his ERA to 2.44.
Washington now starts a four game series against the team that is a half-game ahead of them in the NL East and Wild Card standings, the Phillies. Tonight at 7:05 in Philadelphia, Nationals ace Livan Hernandez (13-5, 3.51 ERA, throws right) will go against Brett Myers (10-5, 3.46 ERA, throws right). The numbers are similar for the two pitchers on the season, but Myers has won his last four decisions, while Hernandez has lost three of four.
Leave it to the Nats pitching staff (and the Rockies terrible offense) to hold a team to just four runs in three games in Coors Field.
Meanwhile, the Nats bats got a nice boost from the thin air and tiny stadium in Denver, scoring 21 runs in the series.
The sweep has put the Nationals right back in the thick of the Wild Card race, thanks to Houston laying an egg in the last two games in Pittsburgh.
Now the Nats play a GIGANTIC four game series against the Phillies with both teams jockeying for second place in the Wild Card and in the NL East. While that series goes on, Houston gets a pair of sub-.500 teams when the play three against the Cubs and then start a series against the Brewers.
Even a split with the Phillies in this four game set could mean dropping another game or two back in the Wild Card standings, while taking three of four or sweeping could boost the Nats to the Wild Card lead. So now you see why this series is huge.
The Nats definitely need to come out and set the pace tonight, because they will have to rely on Ryan Drese tomorrow.