Nationals thump Phillies 7-2 to start road trip with sweep

PHILADELPHIA - The weather's heating up, the Nationals are starting to drive the ball out of the park and Max Scherzer is striking out batters left and right.

With homers from Wilson Ramos and Danny Espinosa, plus a string of extra-base hits, the Nationals gave Scherzer plenty of cushion with which to pitch. And the ace right-hander responded with a dominant performance during a 7-2 drubbing of the Phillies to complete a three-game sweep at Citizens Bank Park.

The Nationals seemingly did everything right in this one, putting the Phillies out of their misery with a lopsided victory to cap off an impressive series.

Max Scherzer red.jpgScherzer cruised from the get-go, striking out a pair in the first inning and never letting up the rest of the way. He finished with 11 strikeouts over eight innings, his latest dominant outing in a growing list of them to start the season.

There was the customary home run surrendered: Tyler Goeddel's two-run shot in the seventh, the 16th allowed by Scherzer in 12 starts this season. But the Nationals already led by seven runs at that point, making the blast relatively insignificant.

For that, Scherzer could thank his lineup, which pounced on Philadelphia left-hander Adam Morgan for six runs in six innings.

Ramos provided the most potent bat of the night, with three hits and four RBIs. He drove in Anthony Rendon with an opposite-field single in the top of the fourth, then launched a three-run homer to right in the top of the sixth to blow the game wide open.

That was Ramos' seventh homer of the season, leaving him with 29 RBIs and a .340 batting average on the night the Nationals season reached the one-third mark.

Espinosa followed Ramos' blast with one of his own, the shortstop's fourth in seven days.

Ryan Zimmerman also drove in two runs, giving the Nationals an early lead with a double to right in the top of the first, then driving in Daniel Murphy for the second time with a seventh-inning sacrifice line drive to left.

With their series sweep, the Nationals improved to 33-21, leaving them a season-best 12 games over .500. Their road trip continues Friday night in Cincinnati.

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