MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nationals' offense is coming around

Nationals' offense is coming around

SAN DIEGO -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper isn't the only hot hitter on the Nationals these days. In fact, the entire team has been smoking in the batter's box.

In their last 17 games, the Nationals are hitting .311 with a .370 on-base percentage and averaging 6.5 runs per game. The run of success has raised their overall batting average from .215 to .261. The Nationals are 13-4 during that stretch.

"We were going to [start hitting]," Harper said. "I think everybody knew that. We are such a good team. We have so much fun out there. One through nine is such a good lineup. Even our pitcher rakes. It's a lot of fun going in and playing games every single day. We are going to score runs, we need to do things to help our pitchers win ballgames. It's going to be fun."

Manager Matt Williams has noticed that opposing pitchers are being more careful with Harper, who is 7-for-16 [.438], including his 13th homer Friday, on the team's current road trip.

At the same time, the rest of the batting order has been having better at-bats. In Friday night's 10-0 victory over the Padres, the Nationals scored four runs in the first inning, three runs in the third and one in the fourth, sixth and seventh. Harper, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman and had two RBIs apiece.

"The first inning was indicative of our club," Williams said. "[Denard Span] got a base hit, [Yunel Escobar] had a great, long at-bat and worked a base hit. Then you have to be careful with the guys in the middle of the lineup, especially everybody is being careful with Harp. It provides us a bigger inning. That's what we want, to put pressure on the opposing team. It worked good for us tonight."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.