The Washington Nationals have one more game to go today to complete a doubleheader with the Milwaukee Brewers, but thanks to power displays from one of their young stars and one of their grizzled vets, they are guaranteed the series win. Second baseman Danny Espinosa and catcher Ivan Rodriguez both hit three-run homeruns off Milwaukee pitcher Yovani Gallardo in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, to give the Nats the 8-4 victory.
Shortstop Ian Desmond finally stopped his 0-for-28 home hitting skid with a ground-rule double into the Brewers bullpen in the sixth inning, which helped set up Rodriguez's opposite field shot with left fielder Michael Morse also on base. Desmond also homered in the eighth inning. Rodriguez's first homerun of the season also KO'ed Gallardo, who finished the day with 10 hits, seven earned runs and five strikeouts in five-innings of work. His ERA ballooned to 4.62.
Nats starter Jason Marquis started out the day shaky, but settled into "game changer" mode as he nailed down the Milwaukee offense after giving up an RBI single to Gallardo in the fourth inning. From then on, it was all Marquis, who took advantage of a sputtering Brewers offense and at one point retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced. He threw exactly 100 pitches (68 strikes, 32 balls), went seven innings with nine hits, two earned runs, one walk and four strikeouts. The pitcher from Staten Island finished with a 3.26 ERA and his first win of 2011.
The Nationals returned to .500 and a 7-7 record. The second game of Sunday's doubleheader will start approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.