Vargas, Ruiz, Alu homer as Nationals take series opener from Athletics, 8-2

Washington Nationals' Keibert Ruiz runs toward third base during the second inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Friday, Aug. 11, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)(AP/Stephanie Scarbrough)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ildemaro Vargas homered and drove in four runs, Keibert Ruiz went deep at home for the first time since May and the Washington Nationals defeated the Oakland Athletics 8-2 on Friday night.

Jake Alu added his first major league homer for Washington, which has won six of nine overall and 10 of 12 at home.

Oakland has lost seven of 10, is a major league-worst 33-83 and is on pace to finish 46-116. There were chants of “sell the team” in the top of the fifth inning, a message directed at Oakland owner John Fisher, who plans to move the franchise to Las Vegas.

Four Nationals relievers combined for six shutout innings after starter Joan Adon halted his warmups before the fourth and left with cramps in the calf of one leg and the groin area of the other. It is the second consecutive start Adon experienced cramping.

“It’s a little worrisome,” Adon said through an interpreter. “I’ve had it before, but usually I get it later in the game — sixth, seventh inning. It does worry me a little bit that it happened so early in the game.”

Cory Abbott (1-1) replaced Adon and earned his first big league win by allowing one hit in 1 1/3 innings.

Ruiz’s fifth-inning homer off Paul Blackburn was his 13th this season but only his third at home and his first at Nationals Park since May 19. He lofted an elevated 91 mph sinker to right off Blackburn (2-3), who allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Ruiz is hitting .341 with four homers and 12 RBIs over his last 25 games. The catcher has raised his average from .222 to .251 during the stretch.

“He’s not chasing,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s hitting better with two strikes. He’s doing really well.”

Vargas padded the lead with a three-run drive off Sam Long in the seventh, and Alu homered off Long on the first pitch of the eighth.

Jordan Diaz hit a two-out, two-run single in the first to put Oakland ahead, but the A’s were hitless in their last seven at bats with runners in scoring position.

Washington tied it in the second on back-to-back RBI singles by Vargas and Stone Garrett, and went ahead on Alu’s sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Oakland’s Lawrence Butler was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas and went 0 for 4 in his major league debut.

“For his first time in the box, he took some good at bats and took some good swings and hit the ball hard on the ground,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “The effort level, in the ninth inning (on) a groundball to the first baseman, he beats it out because it’s kicked, that’s what we’re looking for out of our guys.”


Athletics: 2B/OF Tony Kemp was placed on the paternity list and … C Carlos Pérez (thumb) caught five innings for Las Vegas on Thursday. … RHP Mason Miller (forearm tightness) will throw a live batting practice session Saturday in Arizona. … 1B Ryan Noda (broken jaw) will taking batting practice Saturday.

Nationals: RHP Hunter Harvey (elbow) threw 21 pitches in a simulated game Friday. “He’s really close,” Martinez said. … RHP Tanner Rainey (Tommy John surgery) had a 23-pitch simulated game. … RHP Carl Edwards Jr. (shoulder) also threw a simulated game, and Martinez said he could begin a rehabilitation assignment soon if things continue to go well. … RHP Thaddeus Ward (shoulder) threw a bullpen session.


Athletics: RHP Luis Medina (3-8, 5.47 ERA) has allowed just two home runs in his last 11 outings, a span of 51 1/3 innings.

Nationals: RHP Jake Irvin (3-5, 4.93) faces Oakland for the first time in his career as the series continues.



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