Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth had a double and a home run in a 6-2 victory over the Orioles on Wednesday night.
His homer was one of three solo shots by the Nationals in support of Doug Fister, who improved to 52-52 in his career, the first time he has been at the .500 mark since 2010.
"Warm night, balls flying, small ball park, good to give Doug some run support and he's great to play defense behind," Werth said. "He works fast. To give him some runs and let him do his thing. It was a good win.
Early on, Fister struggled with his location. He walked two batters in the first inning and the Orioles got on the board.
But Fister battled through the inning. With a run in, men on first and third and two outs, Fister was able to get J.J. Hardy to fly out to end the inning.
"There's some pitches that were close," Fister said. "I kind of yanked on a few. It's one of those things, it's going to happen. I'm trying to keep it to an absolute minimum. But after that, it was a matter of I'll attack the zone and just make them hit it. They may put the ball in play and put it in play hard. But that's why I got defense."
"You never feel like you're out of the game when he's out there because I think there's something about how he works," Werth said. "He works quick. He throws strikes. He keeps you on your toes. He gets you back in the lineup. It's a pleasure to play D behind him and watch him work."
Later, Manny Machado hit a solo homer. But that was it for the Orioles offense. A game removed from a three-homer six-run 11th-inning outburst that led the Orioles to an 8-2 victory. Fister held the Orioles to only two runs on seven hits.
The Nationals offense was able to pepper the Orioles and Bud Norris early with runs. The Nationals scored at least one run in four of the first five frames, highlighted by homers from Wilson Ramos and Ian Desmond, and RBI base hits from Werth and Adam LaRoche.
"Guys played very well. Offense came out swinging the bats well," Fister said. "Great plays on defense. Guys are playing well together, we're getting some momentum together. That's kind of where we are at right now. That's good going into the break."
LaRoche felt it was good to get off to a quick start after the 11-inning loss to the Orioles on Monday night.
"Yeah, it is, especially after that first game against these guys," LaRoche said. "They have a really dangerous lineup. Saw signs of it tonight. Hit some balls hard and made some great plays. (Anthony Rendon) saved a few runs over there at third. Doug did a really good job against a really tough lineup."
LaRoche said the Nats took advantage of Norris, who was just returning from a stint on the disabled list with right groin tightness. It was his first start since June 21.
"I thought he was good. I've seen him better," LaRoche said. "I'm sure, coming just back that first start, you're always a little rusty. Left a couple of balls up. Other than that, he still had life on his fastball. We just took advantage of some of the mistakes. The three solo homers and a couple of runs in the first and that was enough."
The Nationals have won eight of their last 10 and continue to play well on the road against first-place teams. In their last eight games against first-place teams on the road, they are 6-2.
With the Mets beating the Braves tonight, the Nationals are in first place in the National League East.
"That's where we want to be," Werth said. "We got a long way to go. We just need to keep rolling. It'd be nice to go into the break in first place, but come back from the break and roll. I think we have a good team. I like the way we play in the second half."
"We got to come in to every day ready to win," Fister said. "That's what we do. We don't look at it. It's only July. It's one of those things. We got to take care of our business before we can even begin to look at anything else."
LaRoche wouldn't mind getting some separation from the Braves with four games left before the break after a see-saw so far this summer in the division.
"We'd love to. Seems like we've been hanging kind of right in there for a while," LaRoche said. "Fall back a couple of games, gain a couple of games. So it'd be nice to just take off here and pick up some ground. A lot of baseball left."
Third baseman Rendon made some more highlight-reel plays to save extra bases and end Orioles innings. Rendon made back-to-back plays on grounders to end the seventh.
"He's just a great guy all around," Fister said. "Both in the clubhouse, on the field, it doesn't matter. He's going to sell out for you. It says a lot about him but it also says a lot about the team. That's the kind of team we have. Guys are going to do that time and time again and it's showing."
"We're seeing it every night and again tonight it's almost routine for him, to turn some really tough double plays and make them look easy," LaRoche said. "He's been really good over there.
"When you're as athletic as he is, it's a little bit easier. It can be tough on a lot of guys. But again, he's comfortable at both spots and he can obviously handle the job wherever he's at."
The power the Nationals displayed could be that it was hitter's ballpark. But could it also be a signal that they might be getting back into a home run groove?
"I think Willy, when he really finds his stroke, he's got a chance of hitting it a long way every at-bat," LaRoche said. "That was good to see. Jayson hammered a couple balls. It's a matter of getting the ball in the air.
"We've been killing some balls, some line drives. You miss those by a half-inch and they turn into home runs. I don't know there's a whole lot there other than keep hitting balls hard and you're going to elevate them."