Nats start homestand by routing Brewers (updated)

It’s always nice to be home. After a 10-game road trip in which they went 3-7, the Nationals were happy to return to D.C. to start this long homestand tonight against the Brewers.

You could feel it in the clubhouse before the game. Despite coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Marlins and getting into town late last night, players seemed to be in high spirits this afternoon. Even manager Davey Martinez was particularly chipper in his pregame press conference.

Did the late arrival time at Nationals Park allow them to catch up on sleep? Or were they over-caffeinated after not getting enough sleep? We don’t know for sure, but whatever it was it led to an 11-5 win over the Brewers in front of 26,111 in attendance on South Capitol Street.

“I am tired. … I got three hours of sleep," Martinez said immediately after tonight's game. "By the end of the game today, I looked at (bench coach Tim Bogar) and said, 'I'm beat.' ”

It was a picture-perfect Friday night in our nation’s capital. With a gametime temperature of 79 degrees and a per usual perfect national anthem from local favorite D.C. Washington, the Nationals settled right into a victory in which they received contributions from all aspects of the roster.

After being outscored 21-7 in Miami, the bats broke out for a complete game in which every starter recorded at least one hit, six recorded multiple hits and six recorded at least one RBI.

The Nationals hit four home runs off one of the better pitching staffs in the league, a solo shot from Maikel Franco leading off the fourth, back-to-back jacks in the sixth from Josh Bell and Keibert Ruiz (the third time the Nats have gone back-to-back this season), and a solo shot leading off the eighth from Nelson Cruz, who finished 4-for-5 with three RBIs.

“Just make sure I hit strikes, first of all, and stay with the pitch where it was throwing," Cruz said after hitting his 455th career home run. "Most of the pitches that I saw today was out over the plate. And I stayed with my approach.”

“I try to just come in every single day and get ready," Franco said after extending his hitting streak to 10 games. "Have a nice game, help my team to win and be consistent in what I do. Don't try to get too much. Just try to go out there and have a good pitch that I can drive. And that's what I do.”

The offense was paced by leadoff man Lane Thomas, who reached on three singles in each of his first three at-bats and scored every time, and No. 2 hitter César Hernández, who reached twice.

That left damage to be done by the big boys. And they came through. Juan Soto, Cruz, Bell and Ruiz combined to go 10-for-19 with a triple, three homers and nine RBIs. They also combined to score more than half of the Nationals’ runs.

“We didn't chase," Martinez said of his team's success against Brewers starter Aaron Ashby. "We tried to get the ball in the strike zone, that was the game plan. I like that kid, he's good. He's got good stuff. So we had to get him in the strike zone, though, and we did a good job of that today. We got some hits that we normally don't get, which is kind of nice, tonight. You need those every now and then. But for the most part, we hit the ball hard. And our big boys came through some RBIs for us today, so that's awesome.”

On the night, the Nats scored 11 runs on 19 hits while going 6-for-16 with runners in scoring position and getting two-out RBIs from Cruz, Soto and Luis García.

Cruz did all of this one night after being scratched from the lineup with back stiffness, going to bed at 3 a.m. and staying up until 5 a.m. due to the pain.

“I don't really know what happened," Cruz said of his ailment. "I don't know if it was my oblique, my back, my ribs. It was something that was pretty painful. Even to breathe, everything. I thought it was the oblique. I was praying last night pretty good. I guess, God listened, and I woke up brand new.”

“He knows himself better than anybody else," Martinez said of Cruz. "And he told me today he was good. So I'm just really grateful that it wasn't nothing serious. Because when you talk about your lower back or your side, you think the worst. But he said he felt good today and he took swings and everything. He was able to play today and you saw what he did. So hopefully, he gets some rest tonight, comes back and does what he does again tomorrow.”

A complete effort from the lineup.

"We have a pretty good lineup. We know that we can hit,” said Cruz. "That's the key. That's how you get production. You have to get traffic on the bases, and today was a good example.

On the mound, Erick Fedde turned in what has become a staple start for him. He ran into some trouble in the second inning in the form of a two-run home run by Jace Peterson to erase the Nats’ early 1-0 lead. But he settled in from there to provide the Nationals some decent length.

Fedde allowed three runs and three walks while striking out four over 5 2/3 innings, one out short of a quality start.

“Yeah, I was pretty happy with it," Fedde said of his outing. "I mean, unfortunately, I gave up the home run. The team gave me the lead, I think, three different times and twice I gave it up, which I'm not happy about. But they put up a ton of runs and I was able to keep them somewhat in control. So a good day.”

Trying not to be too nitpicky after a big victory, Fedde was happy he was credited with the win, no matter how he got it.

“The win always makes the day feel a lot better and I go home, sleep a little better," he said. "But on days like these, it's about feeling good. And then especially when the team gives you that many runs, and honestly, I felt good, so I'm not going to overthink it.”

With the offense running like a well-oiled machine and Fedde pitching into the sixth, it was an easy couple of innings for the bullpen to close this one out. Steve Cishek and Andres Machado combined to allow only two unearned runs (thanks to a fielding and throwing error by Franco on the same play with Machado pitching in the eighth) to score over the last 3 1/3 innings.

After a rough road trip, it was a nice welcome home party for the Nationals.

"They had a really good day today. So I'm proud of the boys," Martinez said. "Like I said, it was a long, long night last night. We got in super late, didn't get much sleep. So let's get some sleep tonight and hopefully repeat what we did today."

* On the farm, Cade Cavalli gave up four runs on six hits over five innings tonight. On the heels of back-to-back dominant starts with Rochester, the Nats' No. 2 prospect surrendered two home runs and walked four while striking out five in St. Paul. His ERA is up to 5.16 after throwing 94 pitches, 56 strikes.

Meanwhile, Jackson Rutledge, the Nats' No. 4 prospect, turned in one of his best outings as a professional tonight. The right-hander pitched six scoreless innings of three-hit ball with one walk and four strikeouts for low Single-A Fredericksburg. He threw 74 pitches, 48 strikes in the FredNats’ 4-3 win over Lynchburg.

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