WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are known for their dominating pitching this year, but it was their offense that carried them on Tuesday night. Washington collected 19 hits and pounded the Cubs, 11-5, at Nationals Park.
The Nationals hit a team-record six home runs against seven Cubs pitchers. Ian Desmond had four RBIs and Adam LaRoche hit two home runs as part of a 4-for-4 night.
"I think it goes back to Spring Training. We knew what we were capable of doing," LaRoche said about the offense. "Unfortunately, with some injuries and some streakiness this year, we haven't had [an] ... outburst like this, where we have been able to score seven, eight, 10 runs. ... We owe this to our pitchers. They have been bailing us out the first couple of months."
For manager Davey Johnson, watching the Nationals on this night must have been like watching the Orioles teams he played for and managed. The Orioles teams he was associated with were known to hit the long ball often.
"Great, great win. Offense was fun to watch. I think everybody got a hit. It was a good game," Johnson said. "Everybody in our lineup is capable of going out of the ballpark. We are in a pretty good place right now, offensively. We have been kind of building to it. I like the lineup that we have. We haven't had the lineup very long."
It was Desmond who gave Washington the lead by hitting a two-run homer off lefty starter Chris Rusin.
Rusin didn't get through the second inning, when he allowed three more runs. Jesus Flores led off with a home run, while Desmond hit a two-run double to make it a 5-0 game.
"I just didn't keep it down, and when I missed my spots, they capitalized," Rusin said. "They did what they were supposed to do, so I give them credit. This is the big leagues, and you can't miss your spots here, because that will happen."
Right-hander Edwin Jackson won his ninth game of the year by pitching 5 2/3 innings and allowing four runs on seven hits. He struck out eight batters. The Cubs scored their first run of the game in the fourth inning, when Luis Valbuena scored on a single by Starlin Castro.
"It wasn't one of Jackson's strong games. He was coming off two great outings," Johnson said.
In the fourth inning, Rafael Dolis was on the mound when Washington scored three runs. LaRoche hit a solo home run, while Tyler Moore hit a two-run homer to make it an 8-1 game.
The Cubs scored three more runs against Jackson, two coming when Alfonso Soriano knocked a two-run triple to center that was inches from being a home run.
"The most important thing is, we come up with a win," Jackson said. "I just have to do a better job in the late innings with two outs and be more aggressive, like I was earlier in the game. I can't allow myself to get away from that aggressiveness and [let the other team] put up late runs like that."
Ryan Zimmerman added to Washington's lead with a solo home run off Miguel Socolovich, while the Nats scored their 10th run against Alberto Cabrera, when Bryce Harper scored on a single by Jayson Werth.
The Cubs scored their last run of the game in the top of the eighth inning when Ryan Mattheus allowed a solo home run to Soriano.
LaRoche hit his 27th home run of the season off Jeff Beliveau in the eighth to close Washington's scoring.
"We know we are capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark," Desmond said. "It's good to see the guys barreling the ball up as a unit. We played well today -- offensively and defensively."
The Nationals improved their record to 83-52 and are now 7 1/2 games ahead of the Braves in the NL East. Atlanta lost to the Rockies, 6-0. The magic number to win the National League East for the Nationals is 20.
"That was nice. We have a big game tomorrow. We have a good guy [Gio Gonzalez] going," Johnson said. "We have a little luxury to give some of the guys to keep from playing. Probably my biggest concern is [Steve Lombardozzi]. He was basically a regular 75 percent of the season, and now that everybody is doing the things they are capable of doing, it is going to be harder for me to get him the at-bats. I have to fight the two guys up the middle [Desmond and Danny Espinosa]."
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.