Nationals 6, Blue Jays 3
Edwin Jackson labored through a lengthy first inning Monday
night. After that, he was lights out.
Bryce Harper had three hits in his return to the starting
lineup, Jackson pitched eight strong innings to win consecutive
starts for the first time this season and the Washington Nationals
beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3.
Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer and Rick Ankiel also connected
as the NL East-leading Nationals won their fourth straight and
extended their lead over second place Atlanta to three games. The
Braves lost to the New York Yankees 3-0.
Jackson needed 24 pitches to get through the first, an inning in
which he also gave up a second deck homer to Toronto’s Colby
”It was like molasses drying or something,” manager Davey
Johnson said of Jackson’s slow inning.
Things were a whole lot quicker after that. Jackson retired 21
of the next 26 batters he faced, including 10 straight at one
”Just an unbelievable performance,” Harper said. ”He had
everything working for him, his fastball was good, his curveball,
his changeup. He was really effective tonight.”
Jackson (3-3) improved to 4-0 in his past seven starts against
Toronto dating to July 30, 2008. The right-hander, who had gone
eight starts without a win before beating the New York Mets in his
last outing, allowed two runs and three hits. He walked three and
struck out three.
Jackson credited his turnaround to a strong connection with
batterymate Jesus Flores.
”Pretty much what I was thinking, he was thinking,” Jackson
said. ”That always helps when the pitcher and the catcher are both
on the same mind frame. I just kept it going, just tried to speed
the pace of the game up.”
Jackson said he’s trying to match or exceed the performances of
Washington’s youthful starters, including Gio Gonzalez, Stephen
Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. It’s the kind of competition
Johnson is happy to see from his deep staff.
”No question about it, everybody is trying to outdo the other
guy,” Johnson said. ”There’s some awful good games I’m seeing
pitched against some awfully good clubs. It’s fun.”
Left-hander Sean Burnett came on after Edwin Encarnacion’s
leadoff double in the ninth and gave up a two-run homer to
pinch-hitter Yan Gomes before finishing off the win.
The Nationals pounded out 14 hits, two shy of their season high
for a nine inning game, and improved to 5-2 in interleague play
this season. Washington has won seven of nine overall.
Harper was held out of the starting lineup Sunday because of
back pain. He went 3 for 4 and also walked and scored twice.
Toronto lost starting pitcher Brandon Morrow just nine pitches
into the first inning when the right-hander strained a muscle in
his left side.
After giving up a leadoff double to Steve Lombardozzi, Morrow
(7-4) motioned for the trainer after missing low on a 1-1 pitch to
Harper, the second hitter of the game. Following a brief discussion
involving manager John Farrell, Morrow walked off the field and
down the steps to the clubhouse.
”I felt it on the first pitch to Harper,” Morrow said. ”I
felt like a stabbing in my side when I threw it.”
Morrow continued to feel tightness in his lower rib cage after
coming out of the game and will be reevaluated Tuesday. Farrell
said the injury was ”probably substantial.”
”He was in considerable pain,” Farrell said. ”There will be
further imaging, further testing in the morning.”
Chad Beck came on to replace Morrow and immediately gave up an
RBI single to Harper.
”That’s never happened to me before,” Harper said of facing
two pitchers in the same at-bat. ”It was kind of weird to go back
up there and get into the zone again and get comfortable.”
Harper went to third when Ryan Zimmerman reached on a fielding
error by first baseman David Cooper, then scored on Michael Morse’s
Rasmus cut the deficit in half with a solo drive to right in the
bottom half, his ninth, but LaRoche responded with a two-run shot
to right in the third, his 11th.
Washington tacked on one more in the seventh on an RBI single by
Ian Desmond, and another in the eighth on Ankiel’s drive to left,
his fourth. The homer came off Blue Jays right-hander Francisco
NOTES: Nationals OF Roger Bernadina strained his right hamstring
while advancing from first to third on a wild pitch in the fourth.
He was initially replaced by Xavier Nady, but Ankiel took over
defensively in the seventh. Bernadina will be re-evaluated Tuesday.
… Beck was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas following the game,
with LHP Evan Crawford and LHP Aaron Laffey recalled from Triple-A.
Toronto will make a second roster move Tuesday to make room on the
roster, with Morrow likely headed to the DL. … The Blue Jays have
lost four of five. … Washington RHP Drew Storen (right elbow)
threw off the mound Monday for the second time since undergoing
surgery. Storen is not expected to return until after the All Star
break. … Nationals RHP Ryan Mattheus (left foot) will make a
second rehab appearance with Class A Potomac on Tuesday, and is
expected to work one inning or more. … The Blue Jays signed 22
draft picks Monday, including first round selection OF D.J.