LaRoche's 2 HRs help Nationals top Sox 8-7
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Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy (44) throws during the first inning of an interleague baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Tuesday, April 9, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
WASHINGTON — Adam LaRoche ended an 0-for-15 start to the season with homers in consecutive at-bats, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond also homered, and the Washington Nationals opened an early interleague series by edging the Chicago White Sox 8-7 Tuesday night.
Werth and LaRoche hit two-run shots off Jake Peavy in the sixth, an inning after Desmond went deep.
LaRoche added a solo homer in the eighth off Matt Thornton, Chicago's fifth pitcher. LaRoche had missed the previous two games with a back muscle problem.
The Nationals have 10 homers in their past three games.
Werth tacked on an RBI single off Matt Lindstrom for an unearned insurance run in the seventh.
The Nationals scored in their last five innings. That allowed Washington to hold on even though Alex Rios took closer Rafael Soriano deep for a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth. Soriano got Paul Konerko to fly out to end it and record his third save in four chances — barely.
Bryce Harper and Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, who left after five innings and didn't factor in the decision, were thrown out by Rios from right field while trying to stretch early singles into doubles.
Reliever Craig Stammen (2-0) got the win despite allowing a run and three hits in his lone inning of work, the sixth.
Desmond connected off Peavy (1-1) leading off the fifth.
Then, with the score 2-all, Denard Span started the sixth with a double. That's when Peavy got a mound visit from bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen, filling in for pitching coach Don Cooper, who missed the game because he went to the hospital with a stomach illness.
Thigpen returned to the dugout, and Werth promptly sent Peavy's first pitch of the at-bat over the wall in left for his third homer.
Peavy struck out Harper, but walked Ryan Zimmerman, bringing up LaRoche, who hit a 1-1 pitch near the 402-foot sign in straightaway center to make it 6-2.
Peavy went 5 1-3 innings, giving up six runs and nine hits.
Paul Konerko answered for the White Sox, hitting a three-run homer off reliever Tyler Clippard in the seventh to get the visitors within 6-5.
But a walk and errant pickoff throw by reliever Donnie Veal preceded Werth's hit in the seventh, adding to Washington's lead, before LaRoche padded it even more.
The Nationals entered the day averaging 3.5 runs — and, in manager Davey Johnson's judgment, "pressing a little bit" — and some attempts to create offense did not pay off.
With two outs in the first, Harper closed an 11-pitch at-bat by singling to right, but he tried to turn it into a double and was easily thrown out by Rios. Washington's next hit came in the third — and the result was the same. It was Gonzalez who singled this time and was caught by Rios.
Even the fifth ended with a Nationals runner tagged out at second base. This time, it was Wilson Ramos, who had singled earlier and was thrown out at second by catcher Tyler Flowers as pinch-hitter Chad Tracy struck out.
Gonzalez threw 99 pitches, allowing one run, four hits and two walks while striking out seven. That run scored on a balk in the first. After Jeff Keppinger's single ended an 0-for-19 stretch, a single by Rios and walk for Konerko loaded the bases.
On a full count, Alexei Ramirez fouled off a pitch. Before Gonzalez threw his next pitch, he stepped on the mound, then backed away, and was called for a balk.
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