|Chi. Cubs (51-85)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||4||0|
|Washington (84-52) «||1||0||4||0||0||1||3||0||x||9||13||1|
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals are closing in on their first postseason berth and they're not easing up -- even against one of baseball's worst teams.
For the second successive game, Washington tied a franchise record with six home runs Wednesday night in a 9-1 rout of the Chicago Cubs.
Bryce Harper hit two home runs and Gio Gonzalez won his 18th game. Adam LaRoche kept up his tear at the plate with three hits for the Nationals, who have won four straight and own the best record in the majors at 84-52. They maintained a 7½-game lead on Atlanta in the NL East.
"Good teams take nothing for granted," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "Guys down at the bottom, sometimes they have more energy and more to prove than guys at the top. We've been down there enough. We know what it's like, we're not letting up."
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LaRoche has hit three of those 12 long balls, and his streak of reaching base in nine consecutive plate appearances was snapped by a seventh-inning strikeout.
LaRoche also has four singles and two walks in the past two games.
"It's just one of those stretches that nobody can explain. They don't happen too often," he said.
The 19-year-old Harper had his second multihomer game. Previously, only Mel Ott and Ken Griffey Jr. had accomplished that feat as teenagers.
"I don't think anybody's satisfied where we're at right now," Harper said. "We don't want to let down to anybody. We don't want to play at that level. We want to play at our level."
Gonzalez (18-7), who shut out St. Louis on five hits in his last start, allowed only three singles in seven scoreless innings to tie Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey for most wins in the majors. Dickey beat the Cardinals 6-2 earlier in the day.
Gonzalez struck out nine and walked none. He has yielded eight hits and no runs in his last 16 innings.
He says being a 20-game winner isn't on his mind.
"We're playing such great baseball, it's selfish of me to think of myself," Gonzalez said. "Individual stuff is nice, but all said and done it's a team thing."
Starlin Castro singled off second baseman Danny Espinosa's glove with two outs in the seventh and Welington Castro followed with a single to left. Gonzalez finished the inning by striking out Josh Vitters.
Manager Dale Sveum, whose Cubs have lost five straight, was ejected in the fifth by plate umpire Larry Vanover for arguing balls and strikes.
"I just didn't appreciate him eyeballing our dugout for absolutely no reason at all," Sveum said.
"I just don't think that's right when you're looking in our dugout for no apparent reason at all. Nothing at all to warrant that at all."
The Nationals scored in the first on LaRoche's RBI single.
Zimmerman singled and LaRoche hit his 28th home run -- his fourth in three games.
Harper hit his 17th with one out in the sixth off Michael Bowden.
Volstad allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings. After breaking a 24-start winless streak that began July 17, 2011, he had won his previous two starts.
He was wary of pitching against Washington, which scored at least eight runs in three of four games last weekend against St. Louis.
"They put up runs all over the place against them, too. They're a hot team. A good team and they're hot. It's a tough combo, but you've still got to go out there and make good pitches," Volstad said.
|Celebrations like these have been commonplace in the Nationals dugout the past couple of days. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Joe Mather, CF||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||.202|
|a- Brett Jackson, PH-CF||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.182|
|Dave Sappelt, RF||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|Anthony Rizzo, 1B||4||1||1||1||0||2||0||.290|
|Alfonso Soriano, LF||3||0||0||0||0||2||0||.259|
|b- Bryan LaHair, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.256|
|Starlin Castro, SS||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.276|
|Welington Castillo, C||3||0||1||0||0||1||0||.274|
|Anthony Recker, C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.125|
|Josh Vitters, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||.076|
|Alberto Cabrera, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jaye Chapman, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Darwin Barney, 2B||2||0||1||0||0||0||1||.256|
|c- Adrian Cardenas, PH-2B||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.224|
|Chris Volstad, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.136|
|d- Tony Campana, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.255|
|Michael Bowden, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Blake Parker, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Luis Valbuena, 3B||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.230|
|a-struck out for Mather in the 8th|
|b-struck out for Soriano in the 9th|
|c-grounded out for Barney in the 8th|
|d-popped out-bunting for Volstad in the 6th|
|2B - Welington Castillo (8, G. Gonzalez)|
|HR - Anthony Rizzo (11, Stammen)|
|RBI - Anthony Rizzo (32)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|DP - Volstad-Barney-Rizzo|
|Chris Volstad (L,2-10)||5||9||5||5||4||2||3||6.23|
|IBB - Suzuki by Chris Volstad, by Suzuki|
|Pitches-Strikes - Chris Volstad 89-46, Michael Bowden 24-16, Blake Parker 20-9, Alberto Cabrera 16-9, Jaye Chapman 9-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Volstad 7-5, Michael Bowden 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Chris Volstad 27, Michael Bowden 5, Blake Parker 6, Alberto Cabrera 3, Jaye Chapman 3|
|Roger Bernadina, CF||5||2||2||1||0||0||1||.304|
|Bryce Harper, RF||3||2||2||2||2||0||1||.259|
|Ryan Zimmerman, 3B||4||1||1||1||1||1||2||.282|
|Mark DeRosa, PR-3B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.147|
|Adam LaRoche, 1B||4||1||3||3||1||1||3||.270|
|Corey Brown, LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.188|
|Michael Morse, LF||4||0||1||0||1||1||4||.287|
|Craig Stammen, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Ian Desmond, SS||5||1||1||1||0||3||4||.288|
|Danny Espinosa, 2B||5||1||2||1||0||1||0||.258|
|Kurt Suzuki, C||3||1||1||0||2||0||0||.223|
|Gio Gonzalez, P||3||0||0||0||0||0||5||.105|
|a- Chad Tracy, PH-1B||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.282|
|a-walked for G. Gonzalez in the 7th|
|2B - Danny Espinosa (32, Volstad)|
|HR - Roger Bernadina (4, Volstad), Bryce Harper 2 (17, Volstad, Bowden), Adam LaRoche (28, Volstad), Ian Desmond (21, Parker), Danny Espinosa (16, Parker)|
|RBI - Roger Bernadina (23), Bryce Harper 2 (47), Ryan Zimmerman (73), Adam LaRoche 3 (90), Ian Desmond (64), Danny Espinosa (50)|
|2-OUT RBI - Adam LaRoche (33)|
|SB - Roger Bernadina (15, 2nd base off Volstad/Castillo)|
|Team LOB - 11|
|E - Ian Desmond (14, Throwing)|
|Gio Gonzalez (W,18-7)||7||3||0||0||0||9||0||2.98|
|Pitches-Strikes - Gio Gonzalez 93-61, Craig Stammen 30-19|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gio Gonzalez 6-7, Craig Stammen 2-2|
|Batters Faced - Gio Gonzalez 25, Craig Stammen 7|
|Attendance - 21244|
|Game Time - 3:00|
|Temperature - 83|
|Umpires - Home - Larry Vanover, First Base - Jerry Layne, Second Base - Bill Miller, Third Base - Mike Estabrook|