Wednesday, August 14, 2019

In late May, the Nationals were 12 games under .500 and the season was going off the rails.

“Nobody pointed fingers,” said second-year manager Dave Martinez.

Washington reached the opposite extreme Wednesday, blasting the Cincinnati Reds 17-7 at Nationals Park to improve to 10 games over .500 for the first time this season. It was the first sweep at home over the Reds in 11 years.

The Nationals (65-55) won for the fourth game in a row as Kurt Suzuki and Adam Eaton hit three-run homers, Anthony Rendon had a solo shot and newcomer Asdrubal Cabrera had three hits and drove in three runs before a sun-splashed crowd of 23,596.

Suzuki drove in four runs and shortstop Trea Turner reached base for the 22nd game in a row. Juan Soto had two hits and has been on base in 19 straight games.

The Nationals scored a season-high 10 runs in the fifth inning as every player in the lineup scored — the first time that happened in an inning since the team came to Washington in 2005.

“Hitting is contagious,” Suzuki said. “They say that all of the time.”

The most important hit, however, may have been an opposite-field single to right by starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg to drive in the first run in the fifth. Strasburg has a career-high eight RBI this year and he entered the day third in the majors for RBI by a pitcher.

“You just try to grind,” Strasburg said. “They are not expecting you to come through.”

Strasburg matched a career-high with his 15th victory.

Strasburg got his hit off Reds starter Trevor Bauer, who was acquired by Cincinnati from Cleveland at the July 31 trade deadline. Bauer was pounded Wednesday, giving up nine runs and two homers. Strasburg gave up seven hits and four runs with three walks and four strikeouts in 52/3 innings.

“It was definitely a grind out there,” Strasburg said.

The right-hander didn’t take much comfort from a career-high win total.

“Not much, really,” Strasburg said. “It’s August. You have to keep going.”

The Nationals were 19-31 in late May after being swept in four games in New York by the Mets. But since then, they are one of the best teams in the majors.

Strasburg gives Martinez a lot of credit. “He has let the veterans in the clubhouse take over,” Strasburg said.

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