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Nats' big bats bring heat to chilly Colorado

Turner, Zimmerman, Murphy homer; Harper goes 4-for-4
April 27, 2017

DENVER -- The Nationals clobbered their way to another win early, defeating the Rockies, 11-4, on a chilly Wednesday night at Coors Field to win their eighth game on their current 10-game road trip, which ends with Thursday's four-game series finale. The Nationals improved to 15-6, which is tied for

DENVER -- The Nationals clobbered their way to another win early, defeating the Rockies, 11-4, on a chilly Wednesday night at Coors Field to win their eighth game on their current 10-game road trip, which ends with Thursday's four-game series finale. The Nationals improved to 15-6, which is tied for the best start in franchise history, accomplished in 1979 and '81 when they were the Montreal Expos.
Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper each had huge nights, combining to go 12-for-19 and tally nine of the Nats' RBIs. Harper went 4-for-4 with a walk in what was his fifth career four-hit game and third of 2017. Murphy has 12 RBIs since Sunday, Zimmerman is 15-for-33 (.455) with five homers and 14 RBIs in his last nine games, and Turner is 11-for-24 with 11 RBIs and 10 runs scored in six games since coming off the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
"Most of them are swinging pretty good right now," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "We get greedy. We smell blood in the water, and they jump on it."
Road show: Top of Nats' order carries load
The offense spelled a spotty start from Tanner Roark, who lacked command but escaped with just two earned runs in five innings. Roark walked a season-high four, and the Nats have now won four of his five starts.

Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood, who gave up 14 fly balls/line drives in his last outing, a personal high since the start of 2016, kept the ball on the ground for most of the first four innings before surrendering homers to Turner and Zimmerman in the fifth. After finishing the inning, Chatwood was credited with five earned runs on eight hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
"I didn't really command anything," Chatwood said. "My misses were bad. I think that's the big thing that's hurting me. ... That fifth inning, I made two mistakes. I missed over the middle of the plate and they hit them both out of the park."
Rockies' rotation lacking in experience

Turner, Zimmerman, Murphy stay hot: A night after hitting for the Nats' first cycle since 2008, Turner finished a triple shy of a repeat. He hit a solo home run in the fifth, singled in the seventh and finished his night with an RBI double in the eighth. Zimmerman added a two-run shot after Harper walked in the fifth, and Murphy also went yard, in the seventh off left-hander Chris Rusin.
"The first two at-bats I felt [terrible], but I made the adjustments," Turner said. "That's how baseball is. At-bat to at-bat, things click or don't click, whatever it is. You've got to be ready to make adjustments.
"Chatwood is tough. He throws pretty hard and he moves the ball around, a whole lot of pitches that move a lot of different ways. In the first two at-bats he kind of dictated the at-bat, finally I got the pitch I wanted to hit and didn't miss it."

Roark limits the damage: Roark, with a reputation for consistent command, lost it during a string of at-bats in the fifth, when he walked three in a row and gave up two runs. But with left-hander Oliver Perez warming, and on his 104th and final pitch, Roark struck out Carlos Gonzalez on a 77-mph curveball to end the inning. A frustrated Gonzalez slammed his bat before leaving the box, splitting it in half.
"We had him on the ropes there in the fifth inning," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "But he wiggled out of a three-walk inning, deep counts, big pitch count in that inning and ended up squeezing out of it. And their guys got the big hits and we didn't quite capitalize on their guy scuffling a little bit in the fifth inning."

"We won, that's all that matters," Roark said. "It was really that fifth inning that got to me with 41 pitches. That's a lot of pitches to throw in an inning. Guys are swinging it well, and that's the main thing."
"I just wanted to stay focused in there and not give up any more. Keep attacking and keep going at guys. I didn't want to let him beat me. Balls fly here. I didn't want him to hit a three-run jack to make it 5-5. I was trying to do everything I can to get him out. I threw the kitchen sink at him." -- Roark, on the pivotal at-bat vs. CarGo
With a win on Thursday, the Nationals would finish their road trip 9-1, which would yield their best winning percentage on a road trip of 10 or more games.

Charlie Blackmon worked a leadoff walk in the first inning, and he appeared to get the best of Roark on a pickoff attempt when first-base umpire Mike Winters called him safe on a good move from the right-hander. The Nationals challenged the play, and the Replay Official definitively determined that Zimmerman applied the tag prior to Blackmon touching first base. The call was overturned, and Blackmon was out, with the next two batters going down on strikes for a quick inning.

The Rockies countered with a ninth-inning challenge when Pat Valaika grounded to third and legged it out as Anthony Rendon's throw pulled Zimmerman off the bag. Zimmerman swung his glove back to tag Valaika as he crossed the bag, and Winters ruled him out. Without conclusive evidence to overrule the call, the play stood after review.

Nationals:Giovany Gonzalez climbs the hill for Washington in the series finale Thursday (3:10 p.m. ET). He has thrown quality starts in each of his four outings this season, throwing at least six innings each time out while allowing no more than two runs in a game. He has a 6.00 ERA in two appearances spanning nine innings at Coors Field.
Rockies: Rookie right-hander Antonio Senzatela will be seeking his fourth win in as many starts when he takes the mound Thursday at 1:10 MT. He has a 2.08 ERA and pitches his four-seamer effectively and with confidence. Hitters have a weighted on-base average (wOBA) of just .245 against it, tied for fourth-lowest among pitchers who have had at least 40 at-bats end on four-seamers. It has accounted for 74 percent of his pitches thrown, most in the Majors among pitchers who have thrown a four-seamer at least 200 times.
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Daniel Kramer is a reporter for based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to based in Denver and covered the Nationals on Wednesday.