WASHINGTON (AP) _ At some point in mid-June, Jayson Werth decided to stop listening to everyone who told him to swing at the first pitch and be more aggressive.
The result is a 40-game on-base streak that has Werth setting the table for the Washington Nationals’ potent offense. On Wednesday, Werth got on base and drove in runs himself with a homer while the Nationals beat the Cleveland Indians 7-4.
Werth hit a three-run homer off Josh Tomlin in the second inning but takes more pride in getting on base than anything else.
“I’m an on-base guy that can drive in runs,” said Werth, who was 2 for 3 with a ground-rule double and a walk. “I think I’ve silenced all those people that have told me over the years that that’s the way I should hit. Just getting back to being myself. I think that’s what it comes down to.”
Werth spearheaded an offensive outburst for the Nationals, who had scored three runs in their previous three games combined. Anthony Rendon also went 2 for 4 with a two-run double and Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos each had an RBI.
“It was even better that we scored some runs and our offense came alive to put us in that position,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We had some guys have some good days.”
It wasn’t the best day for starter Gio Gonzalez (8-9), who allowed four runs and seven hits, including a two-run home run by Francisco Lindor, and struck out five in five-plus innings. But Gonzalez got plenty of run support, and reliever Matt Belisle bailed him out by inducing a double play in the sixth and getting out of the inning unscathed.
Cleveland got three hits from Jose Ramirez, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games, but Tomlin (11-5) failed to get through the fifth inning for the second consecutive start. Tomlin allowed seven runs and eight hits and struck out four in four-plus innings.
“I make a mistake, I pay for it,” Tomlin said. “Doing that against a team like that, it’s tough to come back from.”
The Nationals are an imposing team even without reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper, but Baker said the recent futility was “a little bit past a blip.” He’d rather see struggles now than in September.
But Werth is doing anything but struggling. He has just 13 RBIs over his 40-game streak _ which is three short of Ryan Zimmerman’s Nationals record _ but has 30 walks in that time.
His mix of patience and power is what Washington needs from him now and down the stretch.
“He’s been around long enough to understand how to do almost anything in the order,” Baker said. “He’s a veteran. He struggled early. Glad to see him come to life.”