WASHINGTON (AP) — Willie Harris hit a homer and drove in four runs, Craig Stammen recovered from his shortest start in the majors with eight strong innings, and Washington moved back over .500 by beating the Colorado Rockies 5-2 Monday night before the smallest announced crowd in Nationals Park history.
Only 11,623 spectators saw Stammen (1-0) hold Colorado to two runs and five hits, lowering his ERA from 15.63 to 8.16. Against the Phillies on Wednesday, the right-hander lasted 1 1-3 innings, allowing seven runs.
Matt Capps pitched the ninth for his sixth save in six chances.
Harris drove the first pitch he saw from Aaron Cook (0-2) into the home bullpen beyond right field for a three-run shot in the second inning.
The outfielder also delivered a sacrifice fly in Washington's two-run third.
The Nationals could have scored more against Cook, but they left the bases loaded in the second and third. As it was, Colorado's starter departed after three innings, having allowed five runs, seven hits and four walks.
The Rockies have lost four of their past five games. The Nationals, meanwhile, have won four of five to improve to 7-6 — making this the "latest" point in a season they have had a winning record since Oct. 1, 2005, when they were 81-80.
Washington was never above .500 in 2006, 2007 or 2009; its last winning record in 2008 was 3-2.
After losing more than 100 games each of the past two seasons, the Nationals have been far more competitive so far in 2010.
Colorado had won nine consecutive games against Washington, but the Rockies never really got into this one, thanks mainly to Cook's problems.
Stammen's 2009 ended in July, and he had right elbow surgery in September. He pitched in pain last year because of bone chips in his right elbow — the guy had to brush his teeth lefty — but he's felt much better lately, turning in a solid spring training and looking good Monday, including five strikeouts.
Colorado scored a run in the third on consecutive doubles by Ian Stewart and Clint Barmes, then loaded the bases with no outs but came away with only one run on Miguel Olivo's fielder's choice groundout. Stewart ended the fourth by lining into a double play.
NOTES: The previous record for smallest crowd at Nationals Park, which opened in 2008, was 12,473 on April 20, 2009. ... Rockies injured pitcher updates: LHP Jeff Francis (left shoulder tendinitis) threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session Monday and has another scheduled for Wednesday; closer Huston Street (right shoulder stiffness) took about 60 tosses, moving out to about 100 feet; RHP Taylor Buchholz (elbow surgery) threw in a simulated game "the other day," manager Jim Tracy said, and is slated to pitch one inning Tuesday against the Diamondbacks' extended spring training group. ... Rockies C Olivo threw out Nyjer Morgan (sixth inning) and Willy Taveras (seventh inning) trying to steal second. Entering Monday, the Nationals had been successful on 14 of 16 attempts. ... After failing to record an out in his start against Milwaukee on Sunday, Nationals RHP Jason Marquis watched three or four hours of video of himself from last season, then threw a bullpen session Monday. He is 0-3 with a 20.52 ERA. "It's definitely eating me up inside. It hurts. It's embarrassing," Marquis said. "I'm not going to sit here and make excuses. I'm not good right now. I have no feel for anything. I can't make any pitches." He said he needs to pitch "a lot more rhythmic, instead of robotic." ... The Nationals said they signed LHP Ron Villone to a minor league deal and he is working out at extended spring training in Viera, Fla. They released him March 15.