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Nats halt 7-game skid with 'huge team effort'

@jessicacamerato
September 5, 2020

A roller-coaster showdown that could have gone either way ended in a 10-9 Nationals win on Friday night at Truist Park in Game 2 of a doubleheader, snapping Washington’s seven-game losing skid after it lost the first game, 7-1. One day after hitting an inside-the-park home run, Trea Turner put

A roller-coaster showdown that could have gone either way ended in a 10-9 Nationals win on Friday night at Truist Park in Game 2 of a doubleheader, snapping Washington’s seven-game losing skid after it lost the first game, 7-1.

One day after hitting an inside-the-park home run, Trea Turner put an exclamation mark on the Nats’ first victory since Aug. 28 when he sent a slider from Will Smith a Statcast-projected 411 feet into left-center field for a go-ahead solo homer. But unlike recent games where it was one or two players getting hot, this was a total team effort at the plate -- even without heavy-hitting Juan Soto, who didn’t play in the twin bill because of left elbow soreness.

Box score

“These guys, I say it all the time, they don’t quit,” manager Dave Martinez said. “We could be down, and they just find a way to stay in the game and do what they do. It was a battle today.”

Searching for an offensive jump-start, the Nationals got on the board in the first inning when Asdrúbal Cabrera drove in Victor Robles on a sacrifice fly to put their hitting wheels in motion. In the following frame, Brock Holt recorded his first hit as a National -- an RBI single to plate Josh Harrison, who started in left field in place of Soto.

Those early innings set the tone for a collaborative team win. By the end of the night, six Nationals players had recorded RBIs, led by three from Michael A. Taylor and two from Eric Thames.

“This was a huge team effort,” Martinez said. “I’m proud of all these guys. These guys that don’t play every day, they step up and they give you everything they’ve got. … All these guys, they’re a big part of our team.”

The Nationals would need all hands on deck to edge the Braves. After taking a 7-3 lead on a five-run third inning, Tanner Rainey, who entered the game with the seventh-lowest ERA among National League relievers (1.10), surrendered a grand slam to Freddie Freeman. The Nationals’ lead was erased into a 7-7 tie, setting the stage for Turner to pull them ahead.

“He’s been unbelievable this year,” Martinez said. “It was a big lift for us because we battled to get where we were. We gave a lead back to tie, and he comes up there and he hits a home run. To me, that was huge.”

The Nationals will need more games like this if they want to make a comeback postseason push this month. Soto is day to day, and they can’t rely on one or two players -- or one or two big moments -- to carry them. Friday’s victory was the culmination of 10 hits by seven players.

“It felt good to put up a bunch of runs and everyone contribute,” Turner said. “It felt like that’s one of the first games that the lineup from top to bottom has been really solid and really good.”

The Nats will play two more contests in Atlanta this weekend before returning to Nationals Park for a six-game homestand. They hope by the time they travel back to Washington that they will be carrying some momentum from this hard-fought victory.

“I’m happy for our club, I really am,” Martinez said. “They battled all night long. It felt good to get back on the board with a win. Let’s come back tomorrow and go 1-0 tomorrow.”

Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.