“I kind of told [bench coach] Randy [Knorr], if he throws that 96 mile an hour fastball a little bit more he’s going to kill it and, boom, he did,” Johnson said.
Ryan Zimmerman added a home run to center field in the sixth. In the bottom of the eighth inning, LaRoche continued on his scorching hitting pace, launching a ball far into the right field seats. He has homered in four times in his past four games.
“Everybody in our lineup’s capable of going out of the ballpark,” Johnson said. “We’re in a pretty good place right now offensively.”
Staked to the big lead, Jackson cruised through the five innings. He struck out five straight batters immediately before stumbling with two outs in the sixth.
Jackson allowed a single and walk, then former National Alfonso Soriano drilled a pitch to deep left-center. Werth ranged back to the wall in front of the Red Porch seats, but ball hit just below the top of the wall and bounced into the field of play for a two-run triple. An RBI single by Starlin Castro made it 8-4.
Johnson called on fire-balling reliever Christian Garcia, a recent call-up after twice undergoing Tommy John surgery, to make his major league debut. He induced an inning-ending popout with three pitches. Tom Gorzelanny battled some control issues in the seventh inning with magic, loading the bases on three walks, but wiggled out unscathed.
Ryan Mattheus and Michael Gonzalez completed the final two innings. The Nationals secured another win, moving one step further away from their past and keeping an eye on what separates them from a future in the postseason. Late in games, they check the scoreboard to see how the Braves are faring.
“When you start seeing the number of games you need to win and they need to lose, you start peeking up there,” LaRoche said. “Again, it’s not going to change what we do. But we’ve got a chance to do something, so of course you do.”