Two wins in a row don’t completely erase a five-game losing streak in the midst of a pennant race. But it’s a pretty nice tourniquet, don’t you think? The Nationals left town last week up six games in the National League East on the Atlanta Braves, they lost five in a row, salvaged one game on their short road trip and then came home and whipped the St. Louis Cardinals, featuring the best offense in the league.

Just like that Washington is 5 ½ games ahead of Atlanta, it retook the best winning percentage in the league from the Cincinnati Reds, pushed the Cardinals, who own the second NL wild-card at this moment, 8 ½ games back and are nine games up on Pittsburgh, which sits just off the playoff bubble. A .500 record with 32 games left – 16-16 – will make it difficult for any team but the Reds to catch them. What losing streak? Check out our game story here with all the details from the blowout win over St. Louis.

Big nights at the plate all around. Jayson Werth was 2-for-4 with his first homer since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 2. He also scored three runs. Bryce Harper hit his third homer in six at-bats with his blast in the first inning to give starter Edwin Jackson a nice early lead. That’s a pretty potent one-two punch if Harper gets hot because Werth – even with his power lacking thanks to the broken left wrist suffered in early May – has been an on-base machine since his return.

“How ‘bout that ball Harper hit. Is that a rocket, or what?” manager Davey Johnson exclaimed in his post-game press conference. “I really like guys who can get on base and also produce runs. And both can run, both basically make them throw it over. It’s great.”

Ryan Zimmerman was 1-for-4, but his three balls hard. Clean-up hitter Michael Morse was 3-for-4 and reached base four times. Even a relatively quiet night for No. 5 batter Adam LaRoche featured a sacrifice fly, an RBI, a walk and a run scored. Ian Desmond singled twice. Even No. 8 hitter Jesus Flores delivered two singles, including one that drove home a pair of runs in the seventh inning.

“I assume it’d be pretty tough [for opposing pitchers],” Werth said. “You get through us and then you’ve got Zim, Mikey, LaRoche, Desi and [Danny Espinosa]. That’s tough. It just brings a different dynamic. Your 1-2 guys aren’t your prototypical 1-2 guys. They’re more middle-of-the-order type guys.”

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