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Potent offense keeps Nats rolling in win

Washington tallies fourth straight victory, 11th in past 13 games
@JamalCollier
August 24, 2019

CHICAGO -- From top to bottom, this Nationals lineup continues to be a nightmare for opposing pitchers. The Nats remained red-hot on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, knocking Cubs starter José Quintana, who had not lost a contest in two months, out of the game after four innings en route

CHICAGO -- From top to bottom, this Nationals lineup continues to be a nightmare for opposing pitchers.

The Nats remained red-hot on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, knocking Cubs starter José Quintana, who had not lost a contest in two months, out of the game after four innings en route to a 7-2 victory. This offensive outburst has helped carry Washington to its fourth win in a row and 11th in its past 13 games. During this span, the Nationals have scored 114 runs, or roughly 8.8 runs per game.

Box score

“It’s just fun,” said Trea Turner, who went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored. “Fun scoring runs. It’s fun winning, too.”

Lately, the list of contributors joining in on the fun spans up and down the lineup.

Turner has set the tone at the top of the order by reaching base in a career-best 31 consecutive games, the longest active streak in MLB. Adam Eaton has reached base in 16 straight games and homered five times in his past 10 games. Anthony Rendon (RBI, two walks) extended his hitting streak to 11 games, and he and Juan Soto (RBI, walk, two runs) have a case for the best combo of Nos. 3 and 4 hitters in any lineup.

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Those top four hitters are the constant, and the hitters behind them make this lineup intimidatingly deep. Howie Kendrick’s second RBI of the day provided an extra insurance run in the ninth inning with a double, and he is hitting .486 in his past 11 games. Victor Robles has reached base in all 13 games of the Nats’ hot stretch. Yan Gomes is hitting .471 in his past four games.

“We were talking about it down in the bullpen a little bit. Our lineup is stacked from top to bottom,” reliever Hunter Strickland said. “That’s definitely a blessing to go in everyday with that lineup and know that you’re going to get some run support.”

Some days the Nationals win with power. But they are also capable of a day like Saturday, where they scored seven runs without the benefit of a homer. Washington collected nine hits, drew nine walks and pestered Quintana and the Cubs’ pitching staff for the entire afternoon.

“They have like three legitimate leadoff hitters in their lineup,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Robles and then the two guys at the top already. They've got a combination of speed and power that a lot of teams don't have right now, so they're able to piece things together even if they're not hitting.”

It’s a lineup operating without many holes at the moment and it’s made life a lot easier for manager Dave Martinez as the team proceeds in the absence of closer Sean Doolittle, who is on the injured list with right knee tendinitis. Washington’s bullpen held the Cubs to one hit in 4 2/3 scoreless innings Saturday, a welcome sign for a relief core that has struggled all season.

Perhaps a day will come where Martinez will ask his bullpen to close out a tight game without Doolittle, but it has not been an issue so far this week, thanks to a lineup that continues dominating on offense each day.

“I like the fact that the games are lopsided right now,” Martinez said with a laugh prior to the game. “When the game decides to not be lopsided, then we’ll make those decisions.”

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.