DENVER — The Washington Nationals’ pitching staff is getting healthy, and with the way Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond are hitting, the defending NL East champions are hitting their stride just as summer heats up.
Zimmerman homered, doubled and drove in three runs, Desmond got four hits and the Nationals beat the depleted Colorado Rockies 5-4 on Thursday.
Washington has been beset by injuries to its rotation, but with the return of starter Ross Detwiler on Thursday and Stephen Strasburg expected back Sunday, the Nationals feel confident heading into the last 97 games of the season.
They trail Atlanta by 5½ games in the division.
“For us as a team right now, with the things that have gone on and the things that have happened, we just need to grind it out and stay where we’re at and stay within striking distance,” Zimmerman said. “And then hopefully once we get going or maybe this is the start of that, where we can have a good 20-game span. Then all of a sudden we’re right back in it.”
The immediate future isn’t as rosy for the Rockies, who lost four players and a coach, as well as the rubber match of the three-game series.
Outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler were injured early and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki left with a rib injury in the eighth inning. Reliever Wilton Lopez and pitching coach Jim Wright were ejected in the seventh.
Tulowitzki’s injury appears to be the most serious. He left Coors Field to have an MRI done on his ribs, which manager Walt Weiss said have been sore for “about a week.” The Rockies hoped to get the results of the MRI later Thursday.
“Just hope the MRI doesn’t show any damage and hopefully he’ll be day to day also,” Weiss said. “
Craig Stammen (4-2) threw two scoreless innings and Rafael Soriano got his 17th save after giving up an RBI single to pinch-hitter Todd Helton with two outs.
Zimmerman’s RBI double off reliever Matt Belisle (4-3) in the eighth broke a tie, and he later scored on Desmond’s infield single to make it 5-3.
Tulowitzki, who was injured trying to make a play on Desmond’s single, was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth, straining an already short Rockies bench.
Gonzalez was hit near the ankle by a foul ball while on deck in the first inning and exited with a bruised left foot. The Rockies said X-rays were negative and listed the All-Star left fielder as day to day.
Fowler was hit on the right hand by a pitch from Detwiler after squaring to bunt in the third. A team trainer looked at Fowler, and the center fielder stayed in for another inning. Weiss said X-rays on Fowler’s hand were negative and he is also day to day.
“It was numb, I felt it swelling up,” Fowler said. “Obviously I couldn’t grip the bat so I couldn’t hit. I just know it was hurting and swelling up. I don’t think I had a chance to grip the bat.”
Detwiler was activated from the 15-day DL and made his first start since May 15. He lasted five innings, giving up three runs on six hits and striking out two.
He was in line for the loss until the seventh, when things got heated between the umpiring crew and the Rockies. Desmond led off with a single and stole second. With two outs, Lopez was called for two balks, scoring Desmond to tie it at 3.
CARDINALS 2. METS 1
NEW YORK — Adam Wainwright became the first 10-game winner in the majors by throwing seven scoreless innings and sent Matt Harvey to his first loss of the season.
Wainwright (10-3) retired his first 11 batters before David Wright’s single, and allowed four hits with six strikeouts and two walks. He matched his career best by winning his fifth straight start, dropped his ERA to 2.18 and got his 1,000th career strikeout.
Known best in New York for freezing Carlos Beltran with a called third strike to end Game 7 of the 2006 NL championship series, Wainwright had been 0-4 with an 8.46 ERA in four starts against the Mets since beating them on April 18, 2010.
Edward Mujica allowed a long home run to Marlon Byrd in the ninth before remaining perfect in 19 save chances. Mujica got defensive help from second baseman Matt Carpenter, who made a sliding stop on his backhand to prevent the tying run.
Harvey (5-1) had been unbeaten in 14 starts since Sept. 12 and he pitched well enough to win, giving up one run and five hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts and a walk.
St. Louis scored its only run off him in the third on Carpenter’s RBI triple. Allen Craig added a run-scoring single in the eighth.
Harvey, who lowered his ERA to 2.04, had no-decisions in eight of previous nine starts, and the Mets have scored just 18 runs while he’s been in the game during his last 10 outings, according to STATS.
CUBS 6, REDS 5, 14 INNINGS
CHICAGO — Pinch-hitter Julio Borbon singled home the winning run with two outs in the 14th inning and Chicago ended Cincinnati’s record 12-game winning streak at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs hadn’t beaten Cincinnati at home since last Aug. 9. With the win, Chicago avoided a four-game sweep and improved to 3-10 against the Reds this season.
Hector Rondon (1-0) pitched two innings for the win and Chicago’s bullpen finished with 13 strikeouts over eight scoreless innings in a game that lasted 5 hours, 7 minutes.
David DeJesus homered and Nate Schierholtz tripled twice for the Cubs, who had lost eight of 10 to fall a season-worst 13 games below .500.
Jonathan Broxton (2-2) took the loss in the longest game for both teams this season.
GIANTS 10, PIRATES 0
PITTSBURGH — Matt Cain allowed two hits over 6 2-3 innings and San Francisco routed Pittsburgh.
A year to the day after throwing a perfect game against Houston, Cain (5-3) was nearly flawless again. He struck out three and walked two, giving up a single to Garrett Jones in the fifth and a double to Andrew McCutchen in the seventh.
Hunter Pence hit his 11th homer, while Buster Posey, Gregor Blanco and Joaquin Arias had three hits apiece for the Giants, who avoided a sweep by spoiling Charlie Morton’s return from Tommy John surgery.
Morton (0-1) gave up four runs — two earned — and seven hits in five innings. He also hit three batters with pitches while making his first major league start in more than a year.