Amid their longest winning stretch of the season, the Washington Nationals can’t help but enjoy the way they’ve been playing.
The NL East leaders hope the fun continues as they look for a seventh consecutive victory Monday night against the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks.
A night after overcoming a three-run deficit to beat Pittsburgh 4-3, Washington (69-53) won 6-5 in 11 innings Sunday. Rafael Soriano blew a save by allowing three runs in the ninth when the Pirates took a 5-4 advantage, but Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a tying single in the bottom half and Scott Hairston’s sacrifice fly lifted the Nationals to a sixth consecutive victory and ninth in 11 games.
"It’s a fun team," Hairston said. "We’re an exciting team, we stay in it all the way."
Washington has averaged 5.4 runs while also matching a season high with five consecutive home victories.
Jayson Werth missed five straight games with a shoulder problem, but returned off the bench Sunday to score the tying run and the winner after doubling to open the 11th.
”I don’t want to come back before I’m ready, but at the same time it felt like we’d progressed enough and felt good enough to get in there,” he said.
Werth is batting .350 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in his last 17 games versus Arizona (53-71).
Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann (8-5, 2.92 ERA) allowed an unearned run in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2 win over the New York Mets on Wednesday to improve to 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his last four starts.
The right-hander posted a 2.70 ERA while splitting his first four starts against the Diamondbacks before he allowed five runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings while not factoring in the decision of a 6-5 victory May 12.
"They are going to make you pay for pitches you leave in the middle," Zimmermann told MLB’s official website.
Arizona rookie Ender Inciarte went 0 for 3 against Zimmermann in that contest, but is batting .320 during a rookie club-record 17-game hitting streak.
”I’m not trying to do anything different,” Inciarte said after going 2 for 5 with an RBI during Sunday’s 10-3 loss to Miami.
”I’m just practicing every day and trying to do the same things. Hopefully, I can be more consistent every day.”
Losers in 10 of 14 against the Nationals, the Diamondbacks hand the ball to Vidal Nuno (0-3, 3.92) as he tries an eighth time to win his first game since being acquired from the New York Yankees on July 6.
Though Arizona is 0-7 in games started by Nuno, it’s totaled 13 runs with him on the mound. The left-hander has allowed two or fewer earned runs in four of those outings, including two in 5 2-3 innings while not factoring in the decision of a 3-2 loss at Cleveland on Wednesday.
Nuno will be making his first appearance against the Nationals and fared well against Cabrera, striking him out twice and holding him hitless in three at-bats.