Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth, batting leadoff for the first time since April 2013, led the team in their 15-6 victory over the Colorado Rockies. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
DENVER -- The Washington Nationals, aided by some shoddy Colorado pitching, broke a six-game losing streak Tuesday by blasting the Rockies 15-6.
The win was only the 10th in 30 games for the slumping Nationals, enabling them to even their record at 59-59 and remain 4 1/2 games behind the New York Mets in the National League East. The Mets won at Baltimore on Tuesday.
"We've got a long, hard road ahead of us," said Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth, who batted leadoff for the first time since April 2013 and went 2-for-5 with a double, walk and three runs scored. "We dug ourselves a pretty good hole here. We just got to keep plugging away, keep grinding it out. We got a great group. We believe in our talent, and we believe in each other. At the end of the day, we just need to win games -- that's it."
The 15 runs were the most allowed by the Rockies since they yielded 16 here to the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 4, 2014, The Nationals broke loose for four runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth. They scored five of their first seven runs with two outs and added another such run in the eighth. During their six-game losing streak, the Nationals were shut out three times and scored a total of 12 runs.
Rockies pitchers helped the Nationals' cause. They issued 10 walks (one intentional), and eight of those runners scored. The Nationals also scored two runs on wild pitches and a Rockies' balk led to another run. Starter David Hale came off the disabled list and threw 105 pitches in five innings and allowed six runs. Gonzalez Germen relieved him and retired the side in order in the sixth, the only time the Rockies did that. Justin Miller, Tommy Kahnle, Scott Oberg and Christian Friedrich allowed a combined seven hits, seven walks and nine runs in the final three innings.
Referring to the walks, Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, "It makes it tough. It's a one-run game in the seventh, and it got ugly after that. (We're) working through some tough stuff in the pen right now.
Left fielder Kyle Parker pulled the Rockies into a 6-6 tie in the sixth when he hit his second home run. He drove a 1-2 curveball from Jordan Zimmermann (9-8) into the left field stands. But Zimmermann, who also allowed a two-run homer to right fielder Carlos Gonzalez in the first and shortstop Jose Reyes' solo homer in the second, ended up with the victory when the Nationals quickly took the lead. He gave up nine hits and six runs, four earned, in six innings.
"I made a lot of 0-2 mistakes," said Zimmermann, who is 6-0 with a 2.51 ERA in 10 career starts against the Rockies, "and three home runs, obviously, isn't what I wanted to do. But I just tried to keep it close. I knew it was going to be a high-scoring game. It always is when we're here."
Washington saw leads of 2-0 and 6-4 vanish but went ahead for good 7-6 in the seventh. Miller (1-2) issued two walks in that inning before Michael Taylor's run-scoring single with two outs gave the Nationals the lead. Miller issued one walk in 12 innings in his first 12 appearances but has walked seven in 5 1/3 innings in his past six outings.
Washington's four-run eighth largely came at the expense of Kahnle, whom the Rockies removed from the closer's role Tuesday. He gave up one hit and four runs with three walks, one intentional. Scott Oberg inherited two runners from Kahnle and both scored.
The Nationals finished the rout in the ninth against Christian Friedrich, who took over in that inning for Oberg and allowed three runs on three hits and a walk.
Shortstop Jose Reyes had four hits for the Rockies. Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper recorded four walks and four runs scored -- both career highs. Shortstop Ian Desmond had four RBIs for the Nationals, and third baseman Yunel Escobar hit a two-run homer in the first and drove in four runs while scoring four.
NOTES: Rockies RF Carlos Gonzalez left the game after the fifth inning with right knee inflammation and is listed day-to-day. He said he thought he would be able to play Wednesday. ... Rockies RHP John Axford has been reinstated as the closer, a role he lost after a slump late last month. ... Rockies RHP Chad Bettis (right elbow inflammation) will make his second rehab start on Thursday. He is scheduled to throw 80-85 pitches for Triple-A Albuquerque at Nashville. ... Rockies RHP Tyler Chatwood is scheduled to throw 20 pitches to hitters Wednesday in his second simulated game as he continues his comeback from his second Tommy John surgery on July 24, 2014. ... Rockies RHP David Hale (left groin strain) was activated to start against the Nationals. He had been on the 15-day disabled list since July 10. LHP Ken Roberts was optioned Monday to Triple -A Albuquerque to clear a roster spot for Hale. ... Nationals LF Jayson Werth led off for the first time since April 19, 2013. ... Nationals CF Denard Span (back tightness) went 2-for-3 in five innings for Hagerstown in his second rehab game after playing three innings Sunday in center field for High Class A Potomac.