Nothing like a visit to Coors Field and a few innings against a struggling Colorado bullpen to get a slumbering offense going again.
Adam LaRoche hit two home runs and Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-5 with his 1,000th career hit and his first homer in more than five weeks to key a four-homer, 21-hit attack, and the Nats beat the Rockies 12-5 to snap a two-game skid and win for just the fourth time in their past 11 games.
The Nats’ dozen runs were more than they had scored in their previous five games, while their 21 hits tied their high since moving to Washington in 2005, and their 11 extra-base hits were their most since the move.
As the Colorado wildfires scorched mountainsides in the distance, the Nationals, averaging just 2.5 runs over their their past 10 games, torched Colorado reliever Guillermo Moscoso for eight runs on eight hits in just 1 2-3 innings to break open a game that was close when he entered in the fifth inning. That was more than enough support for Gio Gonzalez (10-3), who allowed five runs, four earned, on eight hits in six innings of work. He struck out seven and walked just one, although he allowed his first two homers on the road this season, solo shots to Dexter Fowler in the fifth and Jonathan Herrera in the sixth.
LaRoche’s shots bookended the scoring. He put the Nationals ahead 1-0 in the second inning with his 14th homer of the season, to left. His 15th of the year, also the opposite way, came in the sixth inning and put the Nats ahead 12-4.
After a two-run double by Michael Morse made it 3-0 in the third, a rookie mistake by Bryce Harper allowed the Rockies to tie the game. Jordan Pacheco singled with one out and scored on Carlos Gonzalez‘ double. Michael Cuddyer then walked to put men on first and second, and Todd Helton dropped a single in front of Harper in center field to score Gonzalez. But instead of hitting a cutoff man to save the run, Harper fired wildly to the plate and the ball got by Jesus Flores, allowing Cuddyer to score from first and Helton to take second.
Gio Gonzalez broke the tie in the top of the fourth when he singled to center to score Flores, who had doubled with one out. The Rockies, using a four-man rotation with strict pitch counts, then relieved starter and loser Christian Friedrich (4-5) with Moscono with one out in the fifth, and the fun began for the Nationals’ offense.
Before Moscono had retired a batter, the Nats had two runs in. It started when Zimmerman became the first National to reach the 1,000-hit mark with a hard grounder past a diving Chris Nelson at second. Morse followed with another single, and LaRoche walked. Ian Desmond broke it open with a double, scoring Zimmeman and Morse. Tyler Moore then unleashed a deep blast to left-center for his third homer of the season.
After Foster’s homer in the sixth, the Nats padded their lead. With one out and the bases empty, Zimmerman cleared the left-center field fence for his third homer of the season, and first since May 19. LaRoche’s second homer of the game, a two-run shot, came after Morse walked.
The Rockies put men on base in each of the last three innings, but Stammen worked out of a two-out, two-on situation in the seventh by inducing a ground ball to third from Pacheco, and got out of the eighth by getting Eric Young to ground out to first. Michael Gonzalez had a man on second with one out when he struck out Tyler Colvin and got Jason Giambi on a ground ball to second.
Champ of the Game: Zimmerman: After struggling since coming off the disabled list in mid-May, his troublesome shoulder is feeling better with the help of cortisone and painkillers. The result was his third straight multi-hit game and his third straight with an RBI.
Chump of the Game: Harper. In addition to his throwing gaffe in the third, he failed to reach base in his first four at-bats, extending an 0-f-r-8 skid before a meaningless single in the seventh.