WASHINGTON -- That Chipper Jones would homer in three consecutive trips to the plate surprised no one, even if he'd never gone deep that many times in a game and just came off the disabled list.
Now, Matt Diaz tying a National League record by hitting safely in 10 consecutive at-bats? Nobody saw that coming.
"You don't see things happen like that every day: a three-homer game and a guy getting 10 hits in a row -- much less them happening in the same game," said Jones, the first Atlanta player with a trio of homers since 2002. "If you were in the ballpark tonight, you were certainly entertained and got your money's worth."
Diaz, a 28-year-old outfielder who entered this season with 119 career at-bats in the majors, said he was getting conflicting reports from teammates about where his streak stood in history.
The No. 8 hitter in the lineup, Diaz hit a two-run homer in the second and singled in the fourth and fifth Monday, all off starter Ramon Ortiz (9-10) -- and all following walks to No. 7 hitter Adam LaRoche, two intentional. Nationals manager Frank Robinson said he wanted Ortiz to pitch around Diaz, because the pitcher was on deck.
Then, Diaz's single in the seventh off reliever Travis Hughes made him 4-for-4 in the game and allowed him to break the Braves' team record and equal the NL mark, shared with 10 others. Diaz went 4-for-4 on Sunday against Milwaukee, 2-for-2 on Saturday.
"You don't expect to come into a game after having had a good day yesterday and go have four hits in a row again," said Diaz, whose streak ended with a groundout to shortstop against Chris Schroder in the ninth. "So it's not something you even think about, but it was fun as it unfolded, especially in a game like tonight, where we were winning, and I could enjoy it a little bit."
That was thanks in large part to Jones, who came off the DL and played Sunday.
"I guess he's healthy. He hit three different pitches for home runs tonight," Nationals catcher Brandon Harper said. "Fastball away, slider, change -- we tried everything. It didn't work."
Jones hit a two-run homer in the fifth off Ortiz, a solo shot in the sixth off Ryan Wagner, and a two-run shot into the upper deck in right in the eighth off Hughes.
"I never, ever thought I would hit three home runs. I hit three home runs once when I was 12 in Little League, and I thought that was going to be the last time," said Jones, who raised his season total to 18.
He's two shy of reaching 20 for the 12th season in a row, and he's one away from a career total of 350.
"Chipper's Chipper, that's for sure," Hughes said. "He's proved it year in and year out. There's nothing you can do."
One might not expect that to be the case with Diaz -- he pronounces it "DYE-az," not "DEE-az" -- who has spent time in the Royals and Devil Rays organizations, and arrived in a trade with Kansas City in December. He's had his most major league experience this year, making his 34th start Monday.
Diaz showed flashes of ability in the past, with a 22-game hitting streak in 2004 for Tampa Bay's Triple-A Durham affiliate. He's also the Devil Rays organization's career minor league leader with 190 doubles and 789 base hits.
"When I first got called up to the big leagues with Tampa, Aubrey Huff asked me all about my minor league numbers, and I was telling him, and he let me go through every single one of them," Diaz recounted. "Then at the end, he said: 'You know what? None of that matters now.' This one's a lot more fun."
All the hitting made for fun night for Braves starter Chuck James (5-3), who had lost three straight decisions but threw seven innings, allowing three runs - two earned - on eight hits.
The highlights for Washington came from, as usual, Alfonso Soriano, who went 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, a stolen base and two runs scored, including one that tied the game at 3-3 in the fourth.
From there, though, it was all Atlanta.
"The effort was there tonight. We just didn't have a chance to consistently put it into play," Robinson said. "The game got away from us."
- Washington 1B Nick Johnson's double in the third was his career-high 36th.
- The major league record for hits in consecutive at-bats is 12, held by Boston's Pinky Hughes (1938) and Detroit's Walt Dropo (1952). The old Braves record of nine was held by Marcus Giles, who did it from July 27-29, 2003. The most recent NLer with 10 consecutive hits was Cincinnati's Bip Roberts on Sept. 19-23, 1992.
- The last Braves player with a three-homer game was Andruw Jones on Sept. 25, 2002, at Philadelphia.