Offense catching up to pitching boosts Nats’ confidence

The Nationals begin their second road trip of the season tonight in St. Louis against the Cardinals, looking for their first four-game win streak of the campaign and their first back-to-back series triumphs. It will be a difficult task at Busch Stadium, where the Nats haven’t won a game since 2007.

First baseman Adam LaRoche said a major reason for their modest win streak is the offense finally helped out the pitching in a weekend sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.

“I think what is really impressive is our offense really hasn’t been clicking the way it is capable of,” LaRoche said. “You will have a couple guys hot at a time, but we haven’t had five or six guys seeing the ball, other than the last couple of days. I think that kind of proves that when we are seeing the ball and hitting the ball well, and you know what our pitching can do, we can score some runs.”

There are 147 regular season games to go. The Nationals also started last season 8-7. So LaRoche said he is cautious about the start, but he sees some signs in the team’s play that could change those awful Aprils prior to 2010.

“Fifteen games is nothing. We have a long way to go and a lot can happen, but we keep playing like this, it might be a good situation right in the end,” he said.

Third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr., said it is good to finally get going offensively and he has preached to his youthful teammates to just keep working hard at the plate.

“We got a lot of veteran guys,” Hairston said. “We try to tell the young guys, ‘Listen, don’t panic. It is two weeks.’ Six, seven, eight, 15 games is nothing over the course of a long season. Just continue to grind. Just continue to believe in yourself and believe in your teammates. Hopefully this is the start of something good.”

Shortstop Ian Desmond feels the pitching has allowed the offense some time to get going and that has helped the Nationals stay in games.

“I think that is a big thing,” Desmond said. “Last year, we were down early, everyone started to lose focus or whatever it may have been. When you are in a game it is much better defensively.

“Pitchers are moving quick. They are going seven innings now, obviously that means they are pitching well. It keeps us in more games.”

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