Despite Sunday loss, Nationals' homestand one for the ages

The Nationals lost 8-0 to the Miami Marlins on Sunday, but the 11-game homestand was a rousing success and will be an example of another major step in their most memorable season to date. The Nats went 8-3, sweeping Chicago Cubs, getting three of four against the Cardinals and one from the Marlins.

Starting Monday, the Nationals have a 5 1/2-game lead over the Braves. The Nats match up with their final regular season series with Atlanta this weekend at Turner Field.

But back to an amazing homestand. The Nationals showcased the power potential with a display in the first 10 games of the homestand that will be tough to equal. Dating to the last game of the Marlins series in Miami at the end of August, the Nationals crushed 30 homers in 11 games, and 20 homers in the past five games. The Nationals have scored 287 runs since the All-Star break.

Adam LaRoche had an incredible homestand, going 15-for-40 with six homers, 14 RBIs and 10 runs.

The Nationals' front-line position players were making big contact during the games against the Cardinals, Cubs and Marlins. During the 11-game run at Nationals Park, six players had 13 hits or more. Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond led the way with 17, LaRoche, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman each had 15, Michael Morse had 14 and Jayson Werth added 13.

Desmond and Zimmerman combined for 32 hits in 10 of those games, even with a day of rest Sunday.

Take a closer look at those top seven in the batting order from a home run standpoint and the numbers get even more gaudy, with six players producing 13 homers or more this season: LaRoche with 29 (three off his career high 32 with 22 games remaining), Desmond 21, Zimmerman 20, Harper 18, Espinosa 16 and Morse 13 (even after missing 50 games).

The Nationals are also getting guys home, with strong statistics with runners in scoring position (RISP), with eight players .276 or better: Roger Bernadina (.370), Corey Brown (.333), Morse (.329), Chad Tracy (.294), Steve Lombardozzi (.289), Zimmerman (.287), Tyler Moore (.286) and Desmond (.276).

And when the Nationals score three or more runs since the All-Star break, they are winning, with a record of 36-6. They are 1-14 since the break when scoring below three runs in a game.

Which brings us back to the homestand finale Sunday and a 8-0 setback to Ricky Nolasco.

Sunday was the first time in 11 games the Nationals did not score a run since they faced Nolasco in Miami in a 9-0 loss on Aug. 28. The Nationals went 9-2 in those games.

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