WASHINGTON -- Rarely have two nicknames proved more appropriate. Red Sox Nation invaded NatsTown for the first time Tuesday night, and the result was no contest - on or off the field.
The Boston Red Sox discovered another home away from home in the nation's capital, drawing a record-setting crowd for an 11-3 win against the overmatched Washington Nationals. Chants of "Let's go, Red Sox!" echoed throughout the evening from the 41,517 fans, the most yet for a 14-month-old Nationals Park that usually has more seats empty than filled.
"It's something that we're used to," Boston shortstop Nick Green said, "but this seemed like a little more than usual."
In their first regular season visit since 1971 -- when Boston great Ted Williams was managing the Washington Senators -- the Red Sox had a season-high 17 hits against the worst team in baseball.
Jason Bay had four hits, including his 19th homer. Jacoby Ellsbury also had four, including first two-triple game of his career. The six-run eighth inning was so long that pinch-hitter Rocco Baldelli actually got to bat twice, leading off with a single and making the third out on a fielder's choice.
"I wasn't even ready," said Baldelli, who had more or less shut himself down for the game when he scored following his hit. "I didn't realize I was going to hit again. Someone said something along the lines of 'You'd better get up there and get ready."'
Manny Delcarmen (2-1) got the win in relief for the Red Sox, who have won 14 of 19 in June. Boston took the lead for good in the seventh inning on Jason Varitek's sacrifice fly off Julian Tavarez (3-5), but it was another bad outings from Kip Wells, Jesus Colome and Joel Hanrahan had Washington manager Manny Acta suggesting that yet another bullpen shake-up was on the way.
"These guys are supposed to just go out there and keep us in the game," Acta said. "And they can't do it."
Boston's three-game visit is expected to be the only series that sells out in Washington this year, and the throng that arrived early to watch batting practice was larger than some that have stuck around for the ends of rain-delayed games this season. Behind the visitor's dugout, fans screamed "Papi" when David Ortiz walked nearby -- and he wasn't even in the lineup because there was no designated hitter.
Inside the posh ballpark's Presidents Club, the menu was Boston baked beans, New England lobster salad, Boston beer and Harvard beet salad. Several lawmakers from New England states -- including Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry -- made the one-mile trip from the Capitol to see their home team.
"I think we're very spoiled," third baseman Mike Lowell said. "I've been on the other side, you know. I've been on the Marlins when visiting teams kind of out-support us."
Trying not to be outdone, Nationals fans mounted a decent roar when they scored the game's first run. Ryan Zimmerman snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a single and was doubled home by Adam Dunn, ending Brad Penny's streak of two starts without allowing an earned run. Zimmerman singled again in the fourth and scored on a wild pitch, and Willie Harris doubled home another Washington run in the sixth.
But Boston had too much firepower. Bay homered in the second, singled and scored in the fourth, then singled during rallies in the seventh and eighth innings. Ellsbury tripled in the fourth and eighth, singled in the second and sixth, walked in the seventh and finished with three RBI and his 30th stolen base.
"It took a while, but a lot of good things happened," manager Terry Francona said. "You spread a game out like that, that's a good feeling."
There was a pregame moment of silence in memory of the nine people who died Monday in an accident on Washington's subway system. ... The Red Sox visited the Smithsonian's American history museum before the game and donated two World Series items: a third base bag used in 2004 and a jersey worn by Jon Lester in 2007. ... Lowell returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sore hip. ... Washington RF Josh Willingham made his first start since returning from bereavement leave following the death of his brother. ... Boston's Dusty Brown made his major league debut, entering the game as the catcher in the ninth inning.