Harper, LaRoche, Nats Top Pirates, 4th Win In Row
WASHINGTON — Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche was speaking after Friday night’s game when his phone rang, the music from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” interrupting the interview session.
Timely, too. Because lately at the plate, LaRoche has gone from very bad to very good.
LaRoche and Bryce Harper each had two hits and drove in two runs, leading the Nationals over the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 for their fourth straight win.
After hitting .159 in July, the LaRoche is 17 for 51 (.333) this month, with four homers and nine RBIs.
“I hit those two balls tonight, hit them good, but found the right spot,” he said. “I feel two to three works ago those were right at somebody, potential double-play balls.”
The left-handed hitting LaRoche said he’s been working on hitting the ball to the shortstop side.
“That’s in BP, that’s in the cage. When the game starts, wherever it goes, it goes,” he said. “I was getting in a little bit of a bad habit, pulling off some pitches, especially some pitches away.”
Friday night, LaRoche’s hits went up the middle and into left field.
“He’s staying on the ball better,” manager Matt Williams said.
Denard Span added three hits as the NL-East leading Nationals opened a 10-game homestand.
Tanner Roark (12-7) gave up three runs on five hits over 5 2-3 innings.
Rafael Soriano allowed three hits in the ninth, including Pedro Alvarez’s RBI single, but held on for his 29th save.
Starling Marte hit a two-run homer and singled for the Pirates, losers of three straight.
Charlie Morton (5-12) lasted just three innings in his shortest start of the season, allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks.
“You know, we didn’t see a lot of consistency of sink and sharpness to (his) breaking ball,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
LaRoche’s single made it 1-0 with one out in the first.
With the bases loaded, Harper fouled a 2-2 pitch off his right foot and needed a several moments to recover. He stepped in and eventually lined a 3-2 pitch for a two-run single.
Off to a slower-than-usual start this year, Harper homered twice this week during a three-game sweep of the Mets in New York.
LaRoche and Wilson Ramos singled home runs in the third to make it 5-0.
The Pirates got to Roark in the fourth. Neil Walker doubled and Marte connected for his sixth homer. Alvarez then doubled home a run with two outs to pull Pittsburgh within 5-3.
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