LaRoche, Harper power Nationals over Blue Jays
Toronto, ON, Canada (AHN Sports) – Edwin Jackson pitched into the ninth, Adam LaRoche hammered a two-run shot in the third inning and the Washington Nationals kicked off a three-game interleague series against the Toronto Blue Jays with a 6-3 victory Monday at Rogers Centre.
Center fielder Rick Ankiel and catcher Jesus Flores also homered for the Nationals, who took advantage of the early exit of starter Brandon Morrow due to a left oblique strain by recording 14 hits.
The Nationals have extended their National League East lead to three games over the Atlanta Braves, who lost to the New York Yankees, 3-0.
In his first game on Canadian soil, rookie Bryce Harper finished 3-of-4 with two runs and an RBI to help the Nationals clinch their fourth straight win. The Nats swept the Boston Red Sox last week.
Jackson (3-3) was headed for a complete game but he gave up a double to Edwin Encarnacion in the 9th, prompting manager Davey Johnson to put in Sean Burnett to get the last three outs.
Jackson was in complete control of the Blue Jays, scattering three hits and three walks with three strikeouts for his second straight win. He retired 13 batters via ground outs and 11 by fly outs.
Morrow (7-4) left the game after just nine pitches because of a left oblique strain. He surrendered a double to leadoff hitter Steve Lombardozzi and threw a 1-1 pitch to Harper before motioning to the trainer to come out of the dugout.
Manager John Farrell also ran onto the field, and after a very brief conversation, Morrow headed for the clubhouse. He was replaced by right-hander Chad Beck.
There was no immediate update on Morrow’s status. Morrow has been the Blue Jays’ most valuable pitcher this season with a 2.90 ERA in 12 starts. He struck out 67 batters while walking just 24 in 77 2/3 innings.
On May 30 against the Baltimore Orioles, Morrow suffered a right leg injury when he was struck by a line drive by Wilson Betemit. Morrow did not miss a start and proceeded to record a shutout in his next outing versus Chicago.
Without Morrow, the Nationals grabbed a 2-0 lead behind an RBI single by Harper, who later scored on a sacrifice fly by Michael Morse.
Colby Rasmus responded with an upper-deck homer, his ninth of the year, in the bottom half of the inning to cut Washington’s lead to 2-1.
But the Nationals extended their lead to 4-1 after LaRoche crushed a two-run shot in the third inning.
Washington added one more in the seventh, before Rick Ankiel put the game out of reach, 6-1, with a solo homer off Francisco Cordero in the eighth inning
Yan Gomes hit a two-run homer off Burnett in the ninth for the final count.