After splitting open a close game last night with a Jerry Hairston Jr. grand slam in the ninth inning, the Nationals haven't wasted nearly as much time flexing some offensive muscle tonight. They scored three runs in the first and three runs in the third, and they lead the Dodgers 6-5 after three innings in Los Angeles.
They've tagged Ted Lilly for seven hits, two of them from Ryan Zimmerman, and have a lead despite a ragged start from Tom Gorzelanny, who's allowed five runs and seven hits and thrown two wild pitches in the first three innings.
The Nationals also caught a couple of breaks in the third inning - or rather, they caught one break and benefitted from a bad decision.
When Lilly hung a curveball to Rick Ankiel and the center fielder flattened it, sending it down the right-field line for a double, it bounced off the fence instead of hopping a foot higher and clearing the fence. Had it left the park, Jayson Werth would have been stuck at third. Instead, he scored when the ball stayed in the park.
Then, Rafael Furcal threw to first on Ian Desmond's chopper through the infield, even though he had no chance to get the shortstop. Ankiel raced home all the way from second on the play, scoring the Nationals' sixth run.
And Werth has continued his turnaround, driving in two runs with a first-inning double and drawing a walk. He's got six hits in his last 13 at-bats, and has driven in four runs in that time.
The middle of the Nationals' order is starting to come around, and not coincidentally, they're having one of their better offensive stretches of the season. They'd scored 33 runs in their last six games before tonight, and already have another six tonight.
They'll have to see if Gorzelanny can stay in the game long enough to benefit from the run support and get a win. He's thrown 66 pitches so far, and it seems like he could be gone before the end of the fifth. In his last start, Gorzelanny exited early with a sprained ankle, and the Nationals' bullpen had to work 6 2/3 innings. They could be looking at a similar workload tonight.