Series against Rangers signals offensive turnaround

Series against Rangers signals offensive turnaround

WASHINGTON -- In the seven games before they opened up their Interleague series against the Rangers, the Nationals lost six times and combined for 19 runs.

In the first two games against Texas at Nationals Park, though, Washington exploded for the same total. The Nats scored nine runs on 15 hits in a 9-2 victory on Friday night, then bested that number by one on Saturday, compiling 10 runs on 12 hits -- including four home runs -- in a 10-2 thrashing.

"We talked yesterday about hitting being contagious," said first baseman Adam LaRoche, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs in Saturday's victory. "When guys are struggling, other guys have a tendency to struggle, especially when it's the core guys. And vice-versa. When those guys are going good, it rubs off on everybody else."

That confidence boost was evident with Anthony Rendon, who entered the seventh inning of Friday's game in a 5-for-43 slump, but has gone 6-for-7 with five singles and a home run since that point.

The hit that set off this furious onslaught from the Nationals offense was Ian Desmond's three-run home run in the fourth inning Friday night. It gave Washington a 3-2 lead they never relinquished, and the team went on to score in six more innings consecutively stretching into Saturday's game.

Desmond's long ball was the Nationals' first three-run homer since April 16. On Saturday, though, LaRoche launched Washington's second three-run shot in as many games -- also in the fourth inning -- to give his team an early eight-run lead.

"It's a funny game," LaRoche said.

Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. He also can be found on Twitter @danielrpopper. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.