Washington, DC – One night after blasting a franchise-record six home runs, the Washington Nationals did it again on Wednesday, en route to a 9-1 drubbing of the Chicago Cubs in the third installment of a four-game series.
Bryce Harper led the offensive assault with a pair of homers. Adam LaRoche clubbed a two-run shot, his third in the past two games, while Roger Bernadina, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa all whacked homers for the Nationals, who have won four consecutive games.
"After about the third or fourth one tonight, we were saying 'what is going on around here?'" LaRoche said of the team's recent power surge. "It's great timing for us to keep pushing hard."
Gio Gonzalez (18-7) threw seven scoreless innings, taking a no-hitter into the sixth, while allowing just three hits. He struck out nine and did not issue a walk to collect his second consecutive positive decision.
He is tied with New York's R.A. Dickey for the major-league lead in wins.
Anthony Rizzo accounted for the lone run with a homer, while Chris Volstad (2-10) took the loss after allowing five runs on nine hits and four walks over five innings for the Cubs, who have dropped five in a row.
Washington jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in its first at-bat. Bernadina began the inning with an infield hit, stole second and came around to score on a base hit to center by LaRoche.
Bernadina led off the Washington third with a solo shot to center field. Harper went back-to-back when he smashed a first-pitch sinker over the wall in left-center field and into the bullpen to make the score 3-0.
Ryan Zimmerman kept the rally going with a base hit up the middle and LaRoche smoked Volstad's fastball over the wall in left-center field to widen the margin to 5-0.
Harper crushed his second long ball of the game with one down in the sixth inning to straightaway right field to give the Nats a six-run cushion.
Desmond and Espinosa cracked back-to-back solo shots in the seventh and Zimmerman drew a bases-loaded walk later in the inning.
Chicago finally got on the board in the ninth inning when Rizzo took Nationals reliever Craig Stammen deep to right-center field for his 11th long ball of the season.
"I see his highlights every fifth day, it's just Gio being Gio," Rizzo said. "They have something good over there."
The Cubs have lost 19 of their 22 games on the road since the All-Star break ... Washington improved to 62-17 when scoring first this season ... Espinosa extended his hitting streak to seven games ... Cubs manager Dale Sveum was ejected by home plate umpire Larry Vanover in the fifth inning ... Washington went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11.