LaRoche and Nady smack back-to-back jacks (Nats win 7-4)

The Nationals now have three solo home runs so far tonight, and if Bryce Harper’s blast in the first inning had traveled just a few more feet, that total would be four.

After Ian Desmond went yard in the third, Adam LaRoche and Xavier Nady blasted back-to-back homers in the sixth, opening up a 4-1 Nats lead on Erik Bedard and the Pirates.

Bedard had set down 11 hitters in a row following Desmond’s homer, seven of which came via the strikeout.

But LaRoche crushed a 1-2 fastball into the seats in right-center and Nady followed by hitting an 0-1 changeup about three-quarters of the way up the seats in left.

The LaRoche home run was his seventh of the season and gives him 26 RBIs on the year, both team-highs. Nady’s longball gives him two in his last four at-bats after his solo shot two nights ago.

Gio Gonzalez has struck out nine Pirates entering the seventh inning, giving him 59 Ks on the season. That ties the Nationals’ lefty with the Yankees’ CC Sabathia for the most strikeouts in the majors.

Update: Gonzalez topped Sabathia by notching his 10th strikeout of the game, but he also surrendered a two-run shot in the seventh to Pittsburgh’s No. 8 hitter, Josh Harrison, who entered today hitting .188 with one home run on the season.

It’s the first homer Gonzalez has allowed all season, snapping his streak of 58 innings pitched without giving up a longball.

We now have a 4-3 game and are quickly approaching Henry Rodriguez territory. There is a possibility Davey Johnson goes to someone else in a save situation, but he did say Rodriguez would be ready tonight if he was needed.

Update II: Why would you pitch to LaRoche right now? Even more, why would you walk the two guys in front of him to load the bases for the Nationals’ red-hot slugger?

Pirates right-hander Evan Meek clearly had no intentions of loading the bases to get to LaRoche, but he paid a heavy price for doing so. LaRoche ripped a first-pitch double into the corner in right with two outs in the seventh, clearing the bases and giving the Nats three big insurance runs. They now lead 7-3 entering the eighth.

The double was LaRoche’s 1,000th career hit. He got a standing ovation after the achievement was shown on the big board at Nats Park, and then got another huge round of applause when he walked to his position at the end of the inning.

Update III: The Nats hung on to beat the Pirates 7-4, with Henry Rodriguez closing it out for his ninth save in 12 chances.

Back with more from the clubhouse in a bit.

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