LaRoche shows off speed to go with three hits

LaRoche shows off speed to go with three hits

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals re-signed first baseman Adam LaRoche this offseason for his prowess with the bat, not on the basepaths. But he displayed a little of both in Thursday's 5-1 win over the Rockies.

LaRoche went 3-for-4 at the plate, notching his first three-hit game of the season after accomplishing the feat nine times a year ago. He is 6-for-11 in his past three games after enduring an 0-for-16 stretch over five before that.

LaRoche's first chance to make a difference with his legs Thursday came in the fourth inning, when he singled and stood at second with two outs. Kurt Suzuki's grounder got between third baseman Nolan Arenado and shortstop Jonathan Herrera, trickling into shallow left field. Third-base coach Trent Jewett waved LaRoche home as Herrera went to retrieve the ball, and LaRoche slid home just ahead of Yorvit Torrealba's tag for Washington's second run.

In the next inning, LaRoche drove in two with his deep fly ball to the right-center gap that dropped at the feet of center fielder Tyler Colvin. When the ball then eluded Colvin and rolled to the wall, LaRoche steamed around second and dived head-first into third for his second triple of the season.

The 33-year-old last notched two triples in a season in 2010 and reached three only once in his previous 10 seasons. He also has already matched his career high with two stolen bases this season.

"It's a lot like wine," LaRoche joked about his speed. "It gets better with age. I just get faster with age."

As for his more well-known talents, LaRoche has been through a hot-and-cold season. He hit .136 with a .473 OPS in April, then .330 with a 1.024 OPS in May. June has been quiet -- he still has not homered this month -- but the past three games offer some positives.

Speaking about the Nationals' offense in general, LaRoche said he saw some good signs Thursday, when the team pounded out 11 hits and got starter Jordan Zimmermann some early runs.

"But it's not a change of approach at the plate," he said. "Guys do what they do. We've been playing long enough; it's tough to change what works for you. We just had a bad stretch of luck and had guys not going. We continue to do it, and we've said it from the beginning: If we continue to do it, it's going to show up. It didn't, it didn't, waiting it out forever, but with this group, eventually it will. I can't say as a team we changed something. They just started rolling our way a little bit."

Tom Schad is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Schad. Andrew Simon is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @HitTheCutoff. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.