By Jeffrey Flanagan and Bill Ladson
MLB.com |@washingnats |
KANSAS CITY -- Daniel Murphy homered and had four hits, and right-hander Stephen Strasburg earned his fifth win as the Nationals plated six runs in the first and cruised to a 13-2 victory over the Royals in Wednesday's rubber game at Kauffman Stadium.
Murphy's four hits tied a career high Murphy's four hits tied a career high -- the 14th time he has had four hits -- and he was a triple shy of the cycle. Bryce Harper hit his 10th homer, and Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos each had three hits for the Nationals, who have won five of six.
Strasburg (5-0) went six innings and gave up five hits and two runs. He walked one and struck out seven.
Drew Butera had an RBI double for the Royals, who have lost seven of nine.
"It was real big [to get the win]. It's getaway day. We won the series. It's tough to do here," manager Dusty Baker said. "The guys feel very good about responding after yesterday's game. We wanted to score big, so they don't come back like they did last night. It still stings some, but it feels a lot better today than it did yesterday."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Scoring in bunches: The Nationals sent nine men to the plate in one inning twice in the game. The first time came in the first inning when they scored six runs. Murphy highlighted the scoring with a two-run double. The Nats also had nine hitters come to the plate in the third inning and scored four runs. Former Royals farmhand Clint Robinson highlighted the scoring with an RBI single. More >
Rare defensive meltdown: The Royals, who were second in Major League Baseball in defensive runs saved last season, generally are considered one of the elite defensive teams in the game. But the game started with third baseman Mike Moustakas and second baseman Omar Infante booting ground balls, and the Nationals were off and running. Later in the inning, outfielder Jarrod Dyson committed an error. All of it led to six runs, only three earned. It was the first time the Royals committed three errors in an inning since May 8, 2013, against the Orioles. More >
"It just wasn't Medlen's day," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He just couldn't get it going and the defense didn't help him."
Hoz ejected: Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer rarely loses his temper, but he got ejected in the bottom of the sixth inning by home-plate umpire CB Bucknor. Hosmer had just struck out swinging, but he seemed upset at some earlier strike calls in the at-bat. After Hosmer got back to the dugout, Bucknor pointed toward the dugout and ejected Hosmer -- Hosmer's first career ejection. More >
"He was upset with the strike zone," Yost said. "And quite frankly, I can't blame him."
Stras is dealing: Strasburg won his fifth straight as he threw six innings, allowing two runs on five hits and striking out seven batters. The only time the Royals touched him was in the second inning. Butera and Alcides Escobar had RBI hits to make it a 6-2 game.
"Stras wasn't real sharp, but we gave him a big lead early," Baker said. "[The Royals] helped us out in that first inning. The are a very good defensive team. Anytime you get extra outs -- they gave us three outs in that first inning -- you capitalize on it."
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The Nationals improved to 19-8, matching their best start through 27 games in franchise history, joining the 1979 Expos.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: Right-hander Joe Ross will start the opener of a four-game set against the Cubs on Thursday at 8:05 p.m. ET. Through the first month of the season, Ross has been as good as advertised, sporting a 0.79 ERA. On Saturday, he held a hot-hitting Cardinals lineup to one run in six innings, leading the Nats to a 6-1 victory at Busch Stadium.
Royals: After an off-day on Thursday, the Royals embark on a seven-game road trip, starting with a Friday night game in Cleveland. Right-hander Yordano Ventura (2-1, 3.67 ERA) will take the mound for the Royals at 6:10 p.m. CT.
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 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.