Monday -- Nationals 5, D-backs 4: LaRoche homer dooms D-backs. Tuesday -- Nationals 8, D-backs 1; Anderson falters early. Wednesday -- Nationals 3, D-backs 2; Arizona loses 5th straight on walk-off. Thursday -- LHP Wade Miley (7-9, 4.46) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-9, 4.06), 12:30 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona.
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Mark Trumbo again is a force in the middle of the Arizona lineup. He is on the kind of run that the D-backs envisioned as a complement to Paul Goldschmidt, before Trumbo was sidelined for about 10 weeks by a stress fracture in his left foot. Since July 31, Trumbo is slashing .351/.429/.474, giving him a .903 OPS. Trumbo has four doubles, a home run and 13 RBIs in his last 16 games.
Rookie center fielder Ender Inciarte had two hits in San Francisco in the final game before the All-Star break, a signal of things to come. Inciarte, 23, extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a perfectly placed drag bunt in the sixth inning Sunday, and he added an RBI single in the ninth. Since that two-hit game by the Bay is hitting .327 with five doubles, six RBIs and two stolen bases as a table-setter in the leadoff spot.
The D-backs will counter one of the best starting rotations in the National League in Washington with two of the hottest pitchers in the league, right-handers Chase Anderson and Trevor Cahill. Rookie Anderson has made six straight quality starts, going 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA. Cahill seems to have recovered from his early-season funk. He has made four straight quality starts, going 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA while winning his first two games as a starter this season.
Manager of the year?
Matt Williams has made a seamless transition into his first year as a manager, leading the Nationals to a 6-1/2-game cushion in the NL East, the biggest division lead in the league. The Nationals have won six in a row and nine of their last 11, putting Williams squarely into contention for NL manager of the year. Williams last week showed his fiery side with a heated reaction when reporters questioned whether scuffling outfielder Bryce Harper should be returned to the minors. He apologized and the Nationals marched on.