WASHINGTON -- The Nationals entered Friday having lost six of their past seven games and averaging fewer than three runs during that stretch.
A large part of the team's struggles have resulted from offensive lapses with men on base. During the seven-game span, the Nationals are hitting .127 with runners in scoring position.
"When we're rolling, there's a lot less pressure in those situations. You're not as concerned about it," said first baseman Adam LaRoche, who returned from the 15-day disabled list on Sunday. "You know we're going to have more opportunities. You know that if you don't get it done, the guy behind you will get it done. When you're not, when you're up there at the plate knowing that this may be our only opportunity to score, it absolutely makes it tougher. And that's what we're fighting for now."
In an 8-5 extra-inning loss to the Marlins on Wednesday, the Nationals stranded the bases loaded on two separate occasions and finished the night 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, with the game tied at 4, walks to outfielder Nate McLouth and pinch-hitter Scott Hairston, along with a bunt single from Denard Span, loaded the bases with the Nationals' No. 2-4 hitters -- Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth and LaRoche -- due up.
Rendon and LaRoche both put together quality at-bats and fouled off a number of pitches, while Werth received a good pitch to hit, but the trio ultimately went down in order, spoiling a tremendous opportunity to take the Nationals' first lead of the night.
"Especially if you're not scoring a lot of runs, you can put too much pressure on yourself in that situation," said McLouth, who went 4-for-4 Wednesday night, including a two-run double in the sixth inning. "But usually it works best when you just relax and take the same approach you would with nobody on base."
Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.