Small ball produces early lead in D.C. (Nats win 8-0)

The Nationals have relied on the home run often during their recent offensive surge. So far today, they're scoring runs the old-fashioned way: with a string of quality at-bats and timely base hits.

Thanks to four singles, a hit-batter and a perfectly executed squeeze bunt, the Nationals racked up four runs in the bottom of the second this afternoon, storming out to an early lead against the Phillies.

There were no long bombs in this rally, only a bunch of solid hits off right-hander Aaron Nola from all parts of the lineup.

roark-pitching-white-sidebar.jpgStephen Drew drove in the first run with a one-out single to right, giving the backup infielder six RBIs in his last 13 plate appearances. Tanner Roark followed with a well-placed squeeze bunt, then enjoyed the added benefit of reaching base when Philadelphia first baseman Tommy Joseph made an ill-advised (and very late) throw to the plate in a fruitless attempt to retire Anthony Rendon.

After Ben Revere's fly ball to left for the second out, the Nationals added on with back-to-back solid singles in pitchers' counts. Michael A. Taylor lined a 1-2 curveball from Nola to left to bring home one run. Bryce Harper then poked an 0-2 pitch up the middle for another run-scoring single, making it 4-0.

Roark has taken advantage of the run support so far, tossing three scoreless innings. The right-hander hasn't been flawless, though: He has already put five men on base but escaped with some guile and maybe a bit of luck.

With runners on second and third and nobody out in the top of the second, Roark recorded three straight strikeouts. Facing a first-and-third, one-out jam the following inning, he escaped thanks to Joseph's hard line drive right at Clint Robinson, who was able to step on first base to complete the double play.

Update: It's now 7-0 Nats after five innings, thanks to a three-run fifth. Rendon delivered the big hit, a two-run double down the left field line. But the contributions continue to come from everyone. Robinson is now 3-for-3 today in place of Ryan Zimmerman. And Drew now has two RBIs today and seven RBIs in his last 15 plate appearances.

Update II: That's a final. Nats win 8-0, yet another lopsided victory for this team. In the last week alone, they've led games by scores of 8-0, 9-4, 11-0, 10-5 and 10-5. They're also a season-best 14 games over .500 now and will go for a sweep of the Phillies at 4:05 p.m. tomorrow.

Nats breathing easier after week of lopsided victo...
Game 62 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

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