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LeMahieu's big night: 2 homers, 4 RBIs in win

Bettis allows 1 run, strikes out 5 in 7 innings
Special to MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- DJ LeMahieu has won Gold Glove Awards and earned All-Star Game selections, but never in the second baseman's eight-year career had he recorded four RBIs in a single game. That is, before Thursday night at Nationals Park.

LeMahieu kicked off the Rockies' 5-1 win over the Nationals with the first leadoff home run of his career, before knocking in another run with a double in the second inning. Then, in the sixth, LeMahieu went deep once more, crushing the first pitch he saw from Matt Grace into the center-field seats to put the Rockies ahead for good. He doubled again in the top of the ninth with no runners on base.

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WASHINGTON -- DJ LeMahieu has won Gold Glove Awards and earned All-Star Game selections, but never in the second baseman's eight-year career had he recorded four RBIs in a single game. That is, before Thursday night at Nationals Park.

LeMahieu kicked off the Rockies' 5-1 win over the Nationals with the first leadoff home run of his career, before knocking in another run with a double in the second inning. Then, in the sixth, LeMahieu went deep once more, crushing the first pitch he saw from Matt Grace into the center-field seats to put the Rockies ahead for good. He doubled again in the top of the ninth with no runners on base.

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"I feel like I've seen Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez have those kind of games plenty of times. So, it was good to have one those for sure," LeMahieu said.

• Rockies await word on possible suspensions

LeMahieu finished 4-for-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored, emerging as the star in the first outing of a four-game set. Things will get harder for Colorado as the series wears on, with stud right-handers Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg scheduled to start Saturday and Sunday. But on Thursday, LeMahieu and the Rockies had their way with left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who departed after five innings.

Video: COL@WSH: LeMahieu cranks his second homer of the game

Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis turned in the most impressive start of the young season, surrendering one earned run on three hits and two walks against five strikeouts in seven innings. Howie Kendrick's fifth-inning solo blast represented Washington's lone offense.

"I thought he pitched well. Fastball, changeup, looked pretty good. He was mixing it up pretty well tonight and sometimes that's going to happen," Bryce Harper said of Bettis.

Video: COL@WSH: Bettis cruises through seven superb innings

"He pitched great. Just pounding the zone. Hitting spots, working quick. Chad doing Chad things, for sure," LeMahieu said.

Right-hander Bryan Shaw and left-hander Jake McGee combined to pitch a scoreless eighth and ninth inning, respectively, sealing the win for the Rockies.

Video: COL@WSH: Desmond receives ovation from Nats faithful

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Popup gone wrong: Washington cheered center fielder Ian Desmond in his first plate appearance of the evening, a show of respect for his seven years as a Nationals player. The result of his at-bat didn't elicit the same type of warm reaction. Desmond hit a weak popup to Kendrick, who misplayed the ball, allowing it to drop harmlessly to the right-field grass. The two-out gaffe not only extended the inning, but allowed Chris Iannetta to score, giving Colorado a 2-0 advantage before Washington even got a crack at the batter's box.

Video: COL@WSH: Iannetta scores on Kendrick's dropped popup

HE SAID IT
"You could say that he was our offense." -- Rockies manager Bud Black, on LeMahieu

Video: COL@WAS: Black on LeMahieu's two homers in 5-1 win

UP NEXT
Left-hander Kyle Freeland (0-2, 5.56 ERA) takes the mound for the Rockies in the second game of a four-game series against the Nationals, starting at 5:05 p.m. MT Friday. Freeland pitched well last time out, allowing three earned runs in six innings against the Braves, but had no run support and received the loss. Tanner Roark (1-0, 4.50 ERA) gets the start for the Nationals.

Joshua Needelman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.

Colorado Rockies, DJ LeMahieu