Nats Too Much for Bucs

PITTSBURGH — The Nationals are on a hot streak at the plate that defies explanation.

“If anyone knew the answer to that, they could write a book and make millions of dollars,” Adam Eaton said.

The onslaught continued Monday night when Asdrubal Cabrera hit the last of Washington’s four home runs and drove in five runs, and three relievers combined for 6 2/3 innings of one-hit ball as the Nationals thumped the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-0.

Eaton, Matt Adams and Trea Turner also connected for the Nationals, who have scored 79 runs in their last eight games while going 7-1. They’ve scored 43 times in their past three, including a 15-14 loss.

Adams added two doubles and had four RBIs. Juan Soto had four of Washington’s 15 hits and walked, reaching base in all five plate appearances.

The Nationals aren’t eager to talk about how they’ve managed to score at least 13 runs in the four of their last five games, for fear of jinxing themselves.

“I’ll leave that to you guys in the media world,” Eaton said.

Starting pitching is considered the Nationals’ strength, with three-time Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer fronting a rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. But manager Dave Martinez believes Washington’s offense stacks up well, too.

“We have a lot of functional pieces,” Martinez said. “We’ve got guys that can get on base, guys that can steal bases, guys who can move the ball around and hit the ball all over, and guys in the middle of the lineup who can juice balls.

“Our lineup is pretty thick right now. I’m proud of the way they’re swinging it. They are swinging at good pitches and willing to take walks, too.”

Javy Guerra (2-1) pitched 3 2/3 perfect innings in relief of Joe Ross, who departed in the fourth inning. Ross was hit in the left shin by a one-hopper off the bat of Josh Bell.

“How about the job Javy did?” Martinez said. “He really saved us from having to go deep into our bullpen.”

Kyle McGowin and Tanner Rainey finished the four-hitter with one inning each for Washington’s 11th shutout of the season.

The Nationals scored four runs off Trevor Williams (5-6) in each of the first two innings.

Williams was removed after the second and was charged with eight runs — six earned — while giving up six hits and three walks. Pittsburgh fell to 7-28 since the All-Star break.

“It’s a really tough stretch right now,” Williams said. “Hopefully, tonight is the bottom. I look forward to coming to the field tomorrow. Being a pitcher, you have to have a short-term memory.”

The Nationals moved within five games of first-place Atlanta, which was idle, in the NL East and continue to lead the wild-card standings.

Eaton homered with one out in the first and Adams added a two-run blast following a sacrifice fly by Cabrera. Turner’s three-run homer highlighted the second, which included an RBI double by Adams.

Cabrera hit a two-run double in the fifth and scored on Adams’ double as the Nationals ran the lead to 11-0. He added a two-run homer in the ninth.

Bell’s single off Ross’ knee in the fourth gave the Pirates runners at first and third with one out. However, Guerra got Colin Moran to hit into a double play.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: Scherzer is scheduled to be activated from the injured list Thursday and start in the finale of the four-game series. He has pitched once over the past six weeks because of a strained muscle in his back. … Ross said he is confident that he will be able to make his next scheduled start Saturday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. … 1B Ryan Zimmerman had his rehab assignment transferred to Single-A Potomac from Double-A Harrisburg.

Pirates: C Elias Diaz was removed after the fourth inning as a precaution after being struck in the facemask by a foul tip.

BABY TALK

Nationals 2B Brian Dozier was placed on paternity leave and INF Adrian Sanchez was recalled from Harrisburg. Dozier can miss up to three days.

HIT NO. 1

Pirates rookie right-hander Montana DuRapau had his first major league hit, a single to right field in the third inning off Ross. It came in DuRapau’s 13th game and fourth at-bat.

UP NEXT

Strasburg (15-5, 3.82 ERA) will face RHP Chris Archer (3-9, 5.23) on Tuesday night. Strasburg is 8-1 with a 3.92 ERA in his last 10 starts. Archer has not won in 12 starts since June 6, going 0-4 with a 5.26 ERA.

Padres 3, Reds 2

CINCINNATI (AP) — Francisco Mejia moved San Diego closer to the club record for homers with his solo shot off the foul pole, Manny Machado had another big hit off Trevor Bauer, and the Padres held on for a victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Kirby Yates escaped a bases-loaded threat in the ninth to save San Diego’s third straight win.

Cardinals 3, Brewers 0

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Dakota Hudson and two relievers combined on a one-hitter, and Paul DeJong homered to lead the St. Louis Cardinals over the Milwaukee Brewers in a series opener between NL Central contenders.

Yasmani Grandal’s ground-rule double with two outs in the eighth inning off Giovanny Gallegos was Milwaukee’s only hit. Hudson was lifted with two outs in the seventh after throwing 111 pitches, and Andrew Miller got four outs for his fifth save.

Astros 5, Tigers 4

HOUSTON (AP) — Yuli Gurriel had two hits and drove in two runs as the Houston Astros built a lead with a big first inning and held on for a win over the Detroit Tigers.

The Astros jumped on Detroit starter Edwin Jackson (3-6) for four runs in the first inning to go on top 4-1. They led by 3 when Detroit’s Ronny Rodriguez hit a solo homer in the sixth before Travis Demeritte added one in the seventh to cut the lead to 5-4.

Mariners 9. Rays 3

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Tom Murphy homered twice and drove in four runs, Austin Nola also went deep and had three RBIs, and the Seattle Mariners beat the playoff-contending Tampa Bay Rays.

Murphy, who had three hits and a walk, hit a three-run drive in the first inning and added a solo shot in the fifth. He has 15 homers in 52 games.

Royals 5, Orioles 4

BALTIMORE (AP) — Nicky Lopez and Nick Dini homered on successive pitches in the seventh inning and the Kansas City Royals stretched Baltimore’s latest losing streak to eight games, defeating the Orioles.

Kansas City (45-80) won for only the sixth time in its last 22 games, and Baltimore (39-86) absorbed its 13th loss in 14 games. The only team with fewer wins than these two struggling clubs is Detroit.

White Sox 6, Twins 4

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jose Abreu hit a towering three-run homer in Chicago’s four-run second inning, helping Ivan Nova and the White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins.

Nova (9-9) allowed 10 hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings, with both runs scoring among Minnesota’s first three batters of the game. Abreu connected for his 27th homer, driving a Kyle Gibson offering deep to the second deck above the bullpens in left-center field.

Indians’ Carrasco pitches for 1st time since cancer finding

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Carlos Carrasco shook off some nerves and returned to the mound.

Two months after being diagnosed with leukemia, everything felt mostly normal for the Indians right-hander.

“It was really special today,” Carrasco said. “Just coming back today out of the bullpen, it feels great.”

Carrasco, who still hopes to pitch for Cleveland again this season, threw one inning of relief Monday night for Double-A Akron against Harrisburg. It was his first outing since being diagnosed in June with chronic myeloid leukemia, a treatable form of cancer.

When he jogged in from the bullpen, Carrasco received a standing ovation from fans at Canal Park. He got another one after striking out his final batter to end the inning.

Carrasco admitted having some jitters beforehand. But once he threw his first pitch, the butterflies were gone.

“Right away I looked back to the scoreboard because I just wanted to find out what was that pitch, and it was 97 (mph),” Carrasco said. “It feels great.”

The 32-year-old is scheduled to pitch again for Akron on Thursday, and he and the Indians will then decide his next step.

His teammates — and Cleveland fans — have rallied around Carrasco. During the All-Star Game in July, he appeared on the field during Major League Baseball’s “Stand Up To Cancer” tribute, and “I Stand With Cookie” T-shirts have become popular around town.

Carrasco said he was touched by the support he received from Akron’s fans.

“Those people were the ones behind me the whole way from day one to now,” Carrasco said.

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