Johnson seeing improvement in Nats bats

Johnson seeing improvement in Nats bats

WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson has been encouraged by the way his team has been swinging the bats lately, and he is hopeful the club will start packing more punch going forward.

After averaging just 3.4 runs per game in mid-April. the Nationals are now averaging four runs per game in May. Washington fell behind, 6-0, on Saturday night against the Orioles, but chipped away before losing by a run .

Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-5 with a home run in the ninth to give his team some hope. Steve Lombardozzi batted leadoff for the first time this season, and responded with two hits and an RBI.

"Zim had a great game, and that helps. It looks like he's heating up," Johnson said. "[Lombardozzi] had a good game. We started hitting the ball hard, but [Orioles starter Jason] Hammel had some good stuff. He was a tough cookie."

The Nationals have also hit 22 homers in their past 15 contests. So far this month, Washington is second in the National League with 64 extra-base hits, and third with a .447 slugging percentage.

"We just don't have everything cranking like you want," Johnson said. "But I have seen signs of improvement. In the last two or three weeks, guys are starting to feel good up there. To win in this league, you can't have any weak spots in the lineup. Everybody has got to be protected. That's the name of the game."