Game #7 Recap: Nats Win Rollercoaster Battle Against White Sox

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The Nats bats came alive Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox as Washington rode four home runs to a tight 8-7 victory.

Last season’s 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez worked deep into counts through five innings of work against Chicago, throwing 99 pitches (57 for strikes).  Although it wasn’t easy, Gio proved effective, giving up his only run in the first inning on a controversial balk call that scored Jeff Keppinger from third.

Gio settled down after allowing three baserunners in the first, striking out seven batters in the outing and only allowing four hits and two walks. Gio’s quiet dominance was almost blown by the recently shaky Nats bullpen on numerous occasions.

Washington received offensive contributions from throughout the lineup.  Span reached base three times and scored two of the Nat’s eight runs.  Shortstop Ian Desmond had his own solo shot in the fifth, his second of the year, which would give the Nats a temporary lead of 2 to 1. Save Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman, every National had at least one hit.

The Nationals gained the lead for good in the sixth inning via Jayson Werth’s two-run homer that scored leadoff man Denard Span - making the score 4-2.  The blast pushed Werth past the 500 RBI mark for his career. Two batters later, LaRoche followed with his own two-run homer to right field - his first of the season.  LaRoche would hit another homer in the 8th - a solo shot that concluded the Nats' scoring.  LaRoche’s second bomb chased White Sox starter Jake Peavy from the game after 5.1 innings.  

Entering the seventh inning with a four run lead, reliever Tyler Clippard gave up a three-run homer to veteran Paul Konerko that brought the Sox within one run. The Nats would extend their lead by two runs in the bottom of the inning - making the score 8 to 5. But the White Sox would not go quietly.  

Setup man Drew Storen had a encouraging 8th inning as he set down the side in order while striking out two.  The Reds roughed up Storen last Saturday when he was tagged for two runs, one earned, in one inning of work. Tonight’s showing from the former closer was an impressive indicator that the righty is back on track.  Having Storen embrace his new setup roll with dominance is essential to the Nat’s success this season.

Washington would hang by a thread once more in the ninth. Closer Rafael Soriano, trying to forget his blown save from last Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds, allowed a two-out, two-run home run to Alex Rios that would again push the Sox within one run of tying the game. Despite the ninth inning scare, Soriano got Konerko to fly out and end the game.  Soriano earned his third save of the year in four attempts.

Peavy was saddled with the loss, his first of the season.

Before the eventual volley of scoring that would send Nat’s fans home happy, Bryce Harper once again fell victim to a personal baserunning blunder. In the first inning, with two outs, Harper tried to extend a routine bloop single into a double and was called out at second by more than five feet.  The mental error adds to recent criticism from Manager Davey Johnson saying Harper “can’t control his emotions.  He is going to have to learn.”  As long as the 20-year-old continues to hit for average and power, the Nats will do just fine while Harper continues to play and learn the league.

The Nats are back at it Wednesday at 7:05 as Jordan Zimmermann squares off against Gavin Floyd. Be sure to check out our full Series Preview.

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