BALTIMORE -- Entering Friday's action, the Nationals were the worst offensive team in the Major Leagues, with a .223 batting average. One would never know it by the way they played Friday night.
They collected 19 hits and outslugged the Orioles, 17-5, at Camden Yards. The 17 runs scored set a Nationals record.
"I'd be less than honest if I didn't say that you think about that somewhat, but they're Major League hitters who are capable of better, just like our guys are," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I think it was probably a given they were going to hit better as the season progressed. It's just unfortunate it was against us tonight."
Washington second baseman Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth were the hitting heroes. Espinosa drove in five runs and ended the night with a double away from the cycle, while Werth hit two home runs and knocked in four runs. Ramos also fell a double short of the cycle, but tied a franchise record with five runs scored.
The slaughter comes after Washington was shut out two straight games by the Mets. The Nationals took early batting practice on Friday, and then they started their onslaught.
"We had a good night. We swung the bats extremely well," manager Jim Riggleman said. "We played good baseball, but we haven't had too many offensive nights where we really put a couple of games together. Hopefully, this will be the start of something."
When asked what's the difference between Friday's game and the previous two games against the Mets, Werth said, "It's funny how things work out. It's not like we didn't do anything different today. We came to the yard with the same mentality we had all year. We play hard, we play the game the right way, we have a great clubhouse. For whatever reason, we haven't been swinging the bats, which is unfortunate. We have a good lineup and a good group."
Espinosa was the one who got the offense going in the third inning. It took 10 pitches, but he ended up hitting a three-run homer off right-hander Jake Arrieta. It ended a scoreless streak of 22 innings. Prior to the at-bat, Espinosa was on an 8-for-60 (.133) slump. But he had a feeling that he would start hitting after working with hitting coach Rick Eckstein.
"My timing was better," Espinosa said. "That's the whole thing. Previous to this, I was late to everything. I was making my swing long. It's just all timing. I've been working real hard with Eckstein. Finally I was getting my foot down, the swing was getting shorter and it felt good up there."
The Orioles would come back and tie the game in the top of the fourth against right-hander Jason Marquis.
With runners on first and third and two outs, Matt Wieters hit a fly ball to center field. It appeared Roger Bernadina had a bead on it, but he dropped the ball and two runs scored. Wieters was awarded a double on the play, and he then scored on a single by Luke Scott.
Marquis didn't figure in the decision, because he lasted four innings and allowed the four runs, even though he left with a 6-5 lead and the Nationals scored six more runs in the top of the fifth.
Marquis was seen throwing a temper tantrum after leaving the game. Riggleman said he had never seen Marquis so angry. Riggleman wasn't happy that Marquis displayed his emotions in front of the TV cameras.
"I thought Jason was struggling through it, and I made the decision to take him out of the one-run game," Riggleman said. "Had I known we were going to score six, maybe I would let him go out there. He was going to go one more inning at most. I just knew if somebody got on, I was going to take him out."
Marquis said he doesn't see the incident lingering, as it was just the heat of the moment.
"I want to be out on the field, battling out there with the teammates," Marquis said. "It's a one-game thing. So I'm going to go out there, do my work like I always do, prepare for the fifth day, take that ball and be ready to get a W."
Reliever Henry Rodriguez ended up getting the win, pitching three shutout innings and striking out three batters. It helped that Washington's offense stepped up, scoring three more runs off Arrieta in the fourth. Espinosa highlighted the scoring with a RBI triple.
The Nationals then pounded Jason Berken in the fifth with six runs. Werth delivered the big blow with a two-run homer.
Werth hit another homer, a solo shot, in the seventh inning, while Ramos hit a solo shot an inning later. Laynce Nix's two-run homer in the ninth gave the Nationals a team-record six in the game.
"I think everybody knows we have been struggling with the bats and not getting hits," Werth said. "It has been a long time coming. We have a good team. Hopefully we can build on this and keep going."
With the win, the Nationals improved their record to 21-23.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.