Espinosa's home run barrage continues (Werth walk-off wins it)

Danny Espinosa is on some kind of home run barrage right now.

The oft-maligned, light-hitting shortstop has been making a case for himself over the last two weeks with an impressive power display, and he is up to it again this afternoon.

Espinosa's leadoff homer in the bottom of the second gave the Nationals a 3-0 lead over the Phillies and kept his run alive. He has now homered eight times in his last 14 games.

This latest blast, on Adam Morgan's first pitch of the bottom of the second, extended a lead the Nationals already began to build in the first inning. They scored twice off Morgan right off the bat, taking advantage of Michael A. Taylor's leadoff single, three walks, and sacrifice flies by Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos.

espinosa high five dugout sidebar.jpgBut it was Espinosa's homer that brought the biggest roar from the crowd so far in this game. He crushed it to left-center, off the side wall of the visitors' bullpen, cutting right through a strong wind blowing in from left field this afternoon.

Though he continues to have plenty of offensive shortcomings (a .214 batting average and .300 on-base percentage) Espinosa is doing more than his share of damage thanks to his ability to hit the ball out of the park. With 11 homers, he now trails only Bryce Harper (13) among all Nationals players through the season's first 63 games. Daniel Murphy also has hit 11 homers, and is tied with Espinosa.

That has tempered the calls for the Nationals to promote top prospect Trea Turner to take over starting shortstop duties for now.

As has been the case for several of his rotation mates over the last week, Joe Ross is making the most of his offensive run support, going right after Phillies hitters and succeeding.

Ross has completed four scoreless innings on 51 pitches, an efficient total despite his six strikeouts.

Update: Give the Phillies credit. They've hung in there and rallied to tie this game at 3-3 after six innings. Cody Asche managed to slice a changeup from Ross through the wind and over the left field fence for a solo homer in the fifth. Morgan, Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis then strung together three straight hits to open the sixth and bring home two more runs. Morgan has turned his afternoon around completely after giving up three early runs. He has now retired eight in a row, six via strikeout, to give his team a chance as we head to the seventh.

Update II: Holy cow, the Nats rallied to win with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. After Jonathan Papelbon gave up a solo homer to Maikel Franco in the top of the ninth, his teammates stormed back to win it in the bottom of the inning. Singles by Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa and a walk by Clint Robinson loaded the bases with two outs. Jayson Werth then singled up the middle off Jeanmar Gomez, scoring both Harper and Espinosa and setting off a wild celebration. Nats win 5-4 and sweep the series.

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