WASHINGTON -- This six-game road trip will serve as a strong test for Rangers, as they match up against the team with the best record in each respective league, in the Nationals and Astros. They passed the first game of that test on Friday night as they hammered 13 hits
WASHINGTON -- This six-game road trip will serve as a strong test for Rangers, as they match up against the team with the best record in each respective league, in the Nationals and Astros. They passed the first game of that test on Friday night as they hammered 13 hits -- including a two-run homer from Jonathan Lucroy and solo homer from Rougned Odor -- en route to a 5-2 victory in front of a sold-out crowd of 38,332 at Nationals Park.
Texas had dropped 11 of its last 14 games, while its pitching staff accumulated a 6.05 ERA during that span. But the Rangers received a strong outing from right-hander Andrew Cashner, who threw seven innings of one-run ball with four strikeouts and two walks.
"It's always important to get a win, but even more important when you are facing the two teams we are on this road trip," Lucroy said. "You are talking about two of the best teams in baseball. We played a good game, but I have to give all the credit to Cash. He did a great job."
Meanwhile, the Nationals played a bit sluggish, on the second day removed from a 10-day, nine-game West Coast road trip. They committed three errors on the night as right-hander Tanner Roark, facing the team that drafted him, labored for much of his outing. Roark gave up five runs, just two of them earned, on 11 hits with a pair of walks and four strikeouts before he was removed from the game in the seventh after Odor's homer.
"We were probably just a little bit sluggish on defense today," Nats second baseman Daniel Murphy said. "Probably made him throw some extra pitches that he didn't deserve. But I didn't think he was too much different. They had good at-bats. Just a little mini-blip on the radar, if you want to call it that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Odd cutoff cuts off Nationals:Anthony Rendon, with the Nationals trailing 4-0 in the sixth inning, ripped a two-out single to left to drive home Ryan Zimmerman. Rendon also tried to take second on Nomar Mazara's throw to the plate and Cashner cut the ball off. Normally he should be backing up home plate but he was in position to cut the ball and throw out Rendon at second base.
"He shouldn't have even been there," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "He should've been backing up. But it turned into a big out."
"I was just in no-man's land floating around," Cashner said. "I didn't think it was going to be close at the plate. So I was standing there and Lucroy yelled to cut it."
Lucroy breaks through: The Rangers had 10 hits off Roark through six innings, but the only one for extra bases was a two-run home run by Lucroy in the fifth. It was Lucroy's first home run since May 20. It was also just his second home run in 53 at-bats against National League opponents since being acquired from the Brewers on July 31 last season.
"Well, hanging sliders aren't generally good against anybody, and he took advantage of it," Roark said. "It was just a bad pitch. Just got to execute better."
"I'm going back to Wounded Warriors ... every day." -- Rangers closer Matt Bush, who picked up a save on Friday after visiting Walter Reed Military Medical Center earlier in the day. More >
Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez makes his first start ever against the Nationals at 11:05 a.m. CT Saturday. Perez is 0-1 with a 10.38 ERA in his last two starts. He is 5-5 with a 4.32 career ERA in 15 career Interleague starts.
Nationals: The Nationals will send left-hander Giovany Gonzalez to the mound for Saturday's 12:05 p.m. ET start at Nationals Park. Since 2012, he has been strongest at home during the day, with a 2.94 ERA in 26 day games at Nationals Park.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.