Nationals focused as win streak builds, feeling different than before Braves series

With the Nationals’ 6-5 victory over the Giants, the win streak reached five games. It is the Nationals’ second five-game win streak of the season, matching an identical streak from May 4-9 against Pittsburgh and Detroit.

It was Nationals outfielder Denard Span who made a spectacular catch in center field off the bat of Hunter Pence with two men on to end the game and preserve the win.

Span said the team learned from the Braves’ sweep last week and concentrated on getting back to work.

“We just turn the page,” Span said. “They came in here and gave us a good ol’ fashion beating. Beat us in small ball, every facet of the game, they did. And we just turned the page. Philadelphia came in, and we went to business. We now have won five in a row. We got to keep going, keep pushing forward and keep grinding.”

Manager Davey Johnson said the five-game streak is built around timely hitting, something that has been lacking from this team consistently all season.

“We are just playing better,” Johnson said. “Throughout the lineup, we are swinging the bats better. Water seeks its level. Sooner or later, guys are going to start getting hits with runners in scoring position. We got too good of talent.

“Anthony (Rendon) got the big base hit with the bases-loaded double. He is learning on the job. I like where we are at. We got a few little things. We got to get some people out out in the bullpen.”

The bullpen saver tonight really was Tyler Clippard. In the eighth inning, when Ian Krol and Ryan Mattheus struggled to get guys out in allowing three runs, Clippard arrived and struck out two to get out of the threat.

He said he feels like the team is more relaxed now and not uptight about trying to catch this team or that team.

“It is one of those things,” Clippard said. “This game in kind of beats you down sometimes. I feel like we kind of hit rock bottom. We were kind of like, ‘You know what, let’s just go out and play.’ Not worry about what is going on. Who is winning what games, focus on ourselves.

“Unfortunately, we did lose three to the Braves. But it kind of let us to take a step back and play baseball and see what happens. That is what we are doing right now, and it is a lot more fun that way. It has been a fun little run these last five games.”

The clubhouse remains quiet and determined after each game, still with no blaring, celebratory music. The guys are happy to get the win. But they are also well aware of the amount of work that is left on the table with 43 games remaining.

Next goal: Get back to .500.

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