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Nats score 14 in final 2 innings to back Pizon

Harper's 3-run double and 2-run homers by Difo, Eaton highlight 8-run 8th, while Reynolds' slam caps 6-run 9th
August 26, 2018

NEW YORK -- Asked Sunday morning what he wants to see from the rest of the Nationals' season, manager Dave Martinez called for "five weeks of fury."Hey, it's better than nine innings of nothing, which is what the Nationals' hitters delivered for three straight days Thursday through Saturday.:: Players' Weekend

NEW YORK -- Asked Sunday morning what he wants to see from the rest of the Nationals' season, manager Dave Martinez called for "five weeks of fury."
Hey, it's better than nine innings of nothing, which is what the Nationals' hitters delivered for three straight days Thursday through Saturday.
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Their stunning scoreless streak finally came to an end Sunday at Citi Field, with a single run in the sixth inning -- and eventually, many more. By the time they were done, the Nationals had a 15-0 win over the Mets and a day that would have been fully satisfying if not for a ninth-inning injury to fill-in closer Kelvin Herrera, who left the ballpark on crutches after hurting his left foot on a play at first base.
The Herrera injury was a disappointment, but the Nationals were thrilled with all the runs and also with six strong innings from rookie starter Jefry Rodriguez (Pizon). Rodriguez allowed just two hits, holding the Mets down until the Nationals were able to break a scoreless streak that they first extended to 32 innings -- the longest by any team in the Major Leagues this season.
The drought finally came to an end in the sixth inning, when Trea Turner (Triple Trea) led off with a double and eventually came home on a slow roller by Juan Soto (Juanjo).

Martinez keeping an eye on Soto's workload
"I ran back into the dugout and said, 'We did it, boys,'" Turner said. "At that point, you've got to make a joke out of it."
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Later, the Nationals were making a rout out of the game, scoring eight times in the eighth for their biggest inning of the season. They had a three-run pinch-hit triple from Bryce Harper (Mondo) and two-run home runs from Wilmer Difo (El De) and Adam Eaton (Spanky).

Mark Reynolds (Sheriff) added a grand slam in a six-run ninth.
"Like I said, these guys can hit," Martinez said.

Rodriguez hadn't gone past the fifth inning in any of his first five starts in the Major Leagues, but Sunday he gave Martinez no reason to pull him before the sixth. Rodriguez walked four and struck out three, but the Mets advanced just two baserunners into scoring position.
"He pitched really well," Martinez said. "We thought about taking him out [after five]. I said, 'I want to see what he does here.' He's good, he's learning and he's going to be very good."
Rodriguez was happy to be given the chance to pitch the sixth.
"It showed the confidence he has in me," he said through an interpreter.
The Nationals' 32 innings without a run gave them the longest drought in the Major Leagues this season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That may or may not be meaningful, since the team that previously had the longest streak was the defending World Series champion Astros (28 innings from April 30 to May 3).
The Astros ended their drought in a 6-5 loss to the Yankees and went on to lose two of their next three games, too. The Nationals are hoping Sunday's blowout win is the start of something much bigger.
Harper in a pinch: Harper has been under the weather this weekend, so Martinez gave him a rare break by leaving him out of the starting lineup. His eighth-inning plate appearance was just his third as a pinch-hitter this season, and just the 16th in his seven-year Major League career. Before Sunday, he was just 3-for-13 as a pinch-hitter (with two walks), and his only RBI came on a home run in April 2016.
"I'm not very good at pinch-hitting," Harper said. "If I'm not going to play, I'd rather not play. But it was a big spot, and I was able to come through."

When Turner lined the first pitch of the sixth inning deep to left field, it looked at first like it might have hit off the railing above the orange line at the top of the fence. If it had, the Nationals' 32-inning drought would have ended dramatically with a home run. But third-base umpire Carlos Torres quickly signaled that the ball had hit the top of the fence and was in play, with Turner reaching second base on a double.
Martinez asked for a crew-chief review, and the umpires quickly agreed. And when the review showed the ball had indeed hit the orange stripe rather than the railing, Torres' initial ruling was confirmed and the play stood as a double.

It turned out not to matter, because Turner scored anyway on Soto's infield out.
"I was hoping it was a home run, because home runs are fun to hit," said Turner, who has 15 homers this season. "But being on second base with nobody out was also a good chance to score."
After winning two of three from the Phillies last week at Nationals Park, the Nationals get another chance at one of the teams ahead of them with a three-game series beginning Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg (6-7, 4.23 ERA) starts the opener against Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin (9-4, 3.93 ERA), with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Danny Knobler is a contributor to based in New York.