It really is hard to believe. Adam Dunn – the much-loved 6-foot-6, 287-pound donkey – has 336 career home runs. He’s been bashing balls out of major-league stadiums for a decade now and never hit fewer than 26 in a full season. Yet until Wednesday night at Nationals Park Dunn had never hit three homers in the same game. Call it a fluke, I guess. But he’s done it now. And that was the difference in a 7-6 win over the Padres. Check out the details in our game story here.

Dunn’s performance left his teammates shaking their heads. Ian Desmond said he just loves seeing his teammate popping bubbles as he rounds first base during his home-run trot and thought Dunn just missed another on a pitch where he popped out foul.

“Absolutely,” said Nats reliever Drew Storen when asked if it shocked him Dunn had never accomplished that feat before. “Or a little bit of both, I guess. It really is hard to do that. But he’s also a good enough hitter to do it. It was pretty cool to get to see it.”

The crowd thought so, too. All 13,762 who braved the 98-degree heat – a whole one degree cooler than Tuesday night’s game-time temperature – gave Dunn a curtain call. No Nats players had to push him out of the dugout. The crowd noise was enough.

“It just shows that the fans are into the game,” Dunn said. “It means a lot when they acknowledge something that doesn’t happen every day. It’s a great feeling.”

Dunn was 3-for-4 with five RBI and three runs scored. He is just the second Nats player to hit three homers in a game since the team moved to the District in 2005. Alfonso Soriano did it on April 21, 2006 vs. Atlanta. No player had done so in the three-year history of Nationals Park. Makes the idea of trading the big man – even if he will be a free agent at the end of the season – a little silly barring an out-of-this world batch of prospects coming in return. That kind of production – 20 homers, 25 doubles, two triples, 54 RBI – is impossible to replace. He’s batting .280 – well above his career best – with a .939 OPS that ranks him among the most efficient run producers in the sport. Even with a tweaked approach – Dunn has been working extensively with hitting coach Rick Eckstein to swing at pitches earlier in the count – he still has a .367 on-base average and 39 walks. 

“His walks are down a little bit. And that’s a tough thing to do,” said Nats manager Jim Riggleman. “When you’ve spent as many years as Adam has playing ball, knowing the strike zone...he realizes he can still do damage swinging a little earlier. But he’s still got great plate discipline. He still walks plenty. But he’s doing a lot of damage right now."

Dunn's effort saved the Nats on a night when the bullpen gave up four runs. Storen was responsible for two of them in the eighth. But he was also the victim of a tough non-call when he thought he had Nick Hundley struck out on a 2-2 pitch with one out and runners at first and third. He instead doubled home a run to cut the lead to 6-4. Another one scored on an infield ground out by Aaron Cunningham. Storen kept his composure when asked about the call afterwards. But it wasn’t easy.

“I don’t know. I thought it was a good pitch, but apparently I missed,” Storen said. “But it’s my job to get on that next pitch. That’s my fault to let him get on base….I was very frustrated because I should have recovered and dealt with that adversity better.”

Meanwhile, Ryan Zimmerman continues to make his All-Star case. One of five candidates for the National League’s Final Vote contest – which ends Thursday at 4 p.m. – Zimmerman was 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the first inning. He is now 8-for-13 since being announced as a Final Vote candidate. In those three games Zimmerman also has a double, three home runs, seven RBI and four runs scored. He’s right behind Dunn with a .917 OPS, including 16 home runs, 17 doubles and 47 RBI. Oh, and there’s that gold-glove defense, too. I don't think he's beating out Reds first baseman Joey Votto. But you can't say he doesn't deserve a spot.  

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