There’s little slowing down the Washington Nationals of late. Not a doubleheader, not a rain delay. And on Wednesday, not the Colorado Rockies.
Patrick Corbin pitched six shutout innings for his first victory in nearly a month, and the Washington Nationals completed a day-night doubleheader sweep with a 2-0 win.
Washington won for the 23rd time in its last 32 home games and improved to 36-15 overall since May 24, the best record in the majors in that span.
“We are playing really good baseball all the way around,” manager Dave Martinez said. “I talked about this from Day One. The little things are going to matter, and they are doing all of the little things.”
The Nationals also posted their fourth straight doubleheader sweep dating to last season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last team to sweep four consecutive doubleheaders was Cleveland from 2003-06.
In the first game, Anthony Rendon homered on the first pitch of the seventh inning to lift Washington to a 3-2 victory.
For a team that started out at 19-31, it’s been quite a turnaround.
“I went to college for a little bit,” Rendon said. “A lot of people wrote us off and saying we need to make moves already, we need to do this, we need to do that. You don’t win the division, you don’t win the pennant, whatever you want to call it in the first 50 games of the season. Or the first 100 games of the season. Anything can happen.”
Corbin (8-5) hadn’t won since June 26, but posted a 2.16 ERA without a decision in four starts in that span. The left-hander had little margin for error after waiting out a rain delay of 1 hour, 41 minutes at the start of the nightcap.
Corbin left the bases loaded in the first, but allowed just one runner to reach scoring position in his final five innings. He struck out seven.
“I had a good mix up there against these guys,” Corbin said. “I have seen them a lot. They can do some damage. These last three games, I mean, they are a good lineup. Our whole staff seems to pitch pretty well against them.”
The Nationals’ pitching has only added to the Rockies’ recent misery. Colorado has dropped nine of its last 10 and 16 of 19, and was 1 of 17 with runners in scoring position during the doubleheader.
“I think runners in scoring position is what’s killing us,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “We’re not syncing up the pitching with the hitting, and when that happens you’re going to have a lot of games like this.”
Sean Doolittle handled the ninth for his second save of the day and his 23rd in 27 chances this year.
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Brian Dozier doubled and Victor Robles’ two-out grounder went through second baseman Garrett Hampson’s legs for an error.
The unearned run was the only damage the Nationals could muster against Kyle Freeland (2-8), who allowed four hits and struck out four in six innings. It was a welcome showing for the left-hander, who entered with a 7.62 ERA, had spent more than a month in the minors and had given up 10 runs in eight innings over two starts since his return.
“It was one of those outings where you can step out and really take a breath of fresh air and really feel like that’s what it’s supposed to feel like,” Freeland said. “It feels like how I’m supposed to be and how I’m supposed to pitch.”
Yan Gomes homered off reliever Jake McGee in the seventh.
Rendon’s drive off Carlos Estevez (1-1) was the difference in the opener, a makeup of Monday’s postponement. Adam Eaton also hit a solo shot for the Nationals.
Wander Suero (3-5) worked a scoreless seventh, Fernando Rodney escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth and Doolittle closed it out.
Rockies: RHP Jon Gray left the opener after yielding a run in four innings, departing because of the effects of a right calf injury suffered when Dozier’s line drive hit his leg in the second. X-rays were negative on Gray, and he said he anticipates making his next start. … RHP Yency Almonte was added as Colorado’s 26th man for the doubleheader.
Nationals: Washington summoned INF Adrian Sanchez as its 26th man. … Between games, Washington optioned RHP Erick Fedde, who allowed a run in four innings in the first game, to Double-A Harrisburg and recalled C Raudy Read from Triple-A Fresno. Read flied out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
Freeland was ejected in the seventh after arguing from the dugout with home plate umpire John Libka. It was his first career ejection. It also didn’t hurt the Rockies; he’d already thrown 109 pitches and was likely to give way to the bullpen, anyway.
“I felt he was just being very inconsistent back there with pitches that I made, some that Corbin made,” Freeland said. “I finally just had enough of it. Another thing, it helped fire up the dugout a little bit, (tried to) get some production going. Obviously, it didn’t happen, but it’s a nice try.”
ROOM TO SPREAD OUT
Washington announced an attendance of 14,628 for the opener, the smallest crowd to watch a Nationals home game since 14,520 saw the Nationals beat Houston on April 18, 2012.
Rockies: RHP Jeff Hoffman (1-3, 6.75 ERA), who was called up from Triple-A Albuquerque on Sunday, makes his first start for Colorado since June 20 as the four-game series concludes.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (9-5, 2.30) is scheduled to come off the injured list and make his first start since July 6.
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