Rendon takes advantage of rest with big series versus Seattle

The Nationals were unable to hold the lead Thursday, but the offense of Anthony Rendon was again the reason they had a shot at the win.

Rendon's solo homer was the first run in a two-run fifth inning, lifting the Nationals to a 2-0 lead over Seattle. The Mariners rode a Nelson Cruz three-run shot to salvage the series 4-2.

Rendon's ninth homer was his fourth homer in the series. He accumulated two homers Tuesday, a three-run shot in the first-inning Wednesday and the solo shot Thursday.

He finished the three-game set 6-for-12 (.500) with a double, four homers, five runs and nine RBIs.

This season, Rendon is hitting .283 with nine homers and 32 RBIs.

His teammate that hit right before him in each game of the series, second baseman Daniel Murphy, appreciates the hot streak Rendon is enjoying this week.

"Getting really good pitches to hit and not missing them," Murphy said. "It's really no more difficult than that. Tony's getting there on time right now, swinging the bat really well. He's getting rewarded for it. Actually, thought the base hit up the middle on the sinker down and in was a really good swing. He's really swinging the bat well right now. I'd like to get on in front of him, try to protect him."

Anthony-Rendon-swing-white-sidebar.jpgWhen you ask Rendon, he says this recent power streak is not the result of a drastic mechanical adjustment or tweak in his approach.

"No, sorry, you guys asked me that question every year, I feel like," Rendon said Wednesday after the game. "No, I don't feel any different. I just try to go out there, try to barrel it. Sorry, wish I had a better answer."

Manager Dusty Baker agrees with his third baseman. But when he sees a player hitting home runs, something is going right.

"I don't see anything different," Baker said. "He's just putting a good swing on his pitch and not missing. He's not fouling it back, he's not popping it up, not hitting it hard on the ground. He's hitting it out of the park. Just keep on doing what you're doing."

After Wednesday's display, I asked Baker about the strength and quickness Rendon generates with his hands in each at-bat. His quick hands with the bat have become a signature for Rendon's ability to barrel up each swing, something Nationals scouts envied as they looked to draft him out of Rice University in 2011.

"His hands were bothering him earlier in the year, but he's as good a hands hitter as there is around and outstanding clutch hitter," Baker noted. "He hits the ball to all fields. And he had a pretty good April for him, but he's had an outstanding May. And now we got four guys with 30 RBI or more, so that's a pretty balanced offense and that's really needed with him batting behind Murph because he's going to get a lot of chances.

"Every time it seems I give Anthony a day off from time to time, he responds with outstanding ability and outstanding offensive outburst."

That was a key this week. Rendon started this onslaught after virtually two days of rest.

Rendon rested for most of Sunday's finale at SunTrust Park in Atlanta. He came in as defensive replacement late against the Braves, but did not get an at-bat. After a scheduled day off Monday, he unleashed five extra base hits, including four home runs, in the three-games of a series victory against the Mariners.

"I just try to take advantage of any day off we have," Rendon said Wednesday. "162 games in 180 days or whatever the heck we play. It's tough. Whenever you get a chance to have a day off, or back-to-back days off, you got to take advantage of it and try to recover the best way you can."

Rendon pointed to the uncontrollable changes in a schedule that can sometimes adversely affect a player and his rhythm in each plate appearance.

"For sure, especially when we've had doubleheaders thrown our way," Rendon said Wednesday. "Then we had Pittsburgh. We had a 7, 4 and a noon, 12:30 p.m. Those times it may not seem like it wears on you as a player, but that extra two hours of sleep that you don't get really kept us up, too, so when you get a day off, you have to take advantage of it."

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