Nationals 8, Giants 6

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WASHINGTON (AP)—As the trade deadline approaches, perhaps with a radical remaking of the roster, the last-place Washington Nationals are playing about as well as they have all year.

On a day their starting second baseman went on the disabled list and their right fielder had season-ending surgery, the Nationals held Barry Bonds in check, overcame two homers by Ray Durham, and beat the San Francisco Giants 8-6 on Tuesday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

“We’re getting pretty good starting pitching, the hitting has come together, we have timely hitting throughout the lineup, and we’re playing good defense,” Washington manager Frank Robinson said. “I like the way we’re playing right now, absolutely.”

Ramon Ortiz (7-9) snapped a three-game losing streak and became the third straight Nationals starter to collect a win—the first time that’s happened all season.

Bonds, who didn’t speak to reporters before or after the game, failed to hit a ball to the outfield in three at-bats against Ortiz and finished 0-for-4. Jeered when he stepped into the on-deck circle, when he batted, and when he caught fly balls, Bonds remained at 722 homers, 33 shy of Hank Aaron’s career record.

In his last at-bat, against reliever Micah Bowie in the eighth, Bonds made good contact, but Alfonso Soriano made a running catch in left.

“It’s now the second half, so I feel more comfortable in left field,” said Soriano, who was shifted from second base by the Nationals.

He, of course, is at the center of most of the trade speculation involving Washington. Before the game, he said he’s amused by most of that talk: “The last seven days, I’ve seen my name (linked) with five different teams, so I’m laughing.”

He went 0-for-3 Tuesday—just the second time in the past 12 games he didn’t get a hit—but the rest of the lineup produced. Nick Johnson had three singles and two RBIs, Felipe Lopez collected two hits for the fourth game in a row, and Marlon Anderson—filling in for Jose Vidro, who went on the DL with a strained hamstring—and Ryan Church each had two hits, too. Church drove in three runs, Anderson two.

Seven of Washington’s runs came off Matt Morris (8-8), who was hit on the wrist by a batted ball in the second inning but stayed in the game. He left after a five-run third, though, and his line wasn’t good: 2 1-3 innings, seven runs, seven hits.

“As a pitcher, not somewhere you want to be hit,” Morris said of the shot off Church’s bat. “It’s not an excuse—I am still out there, saying I want to pitch. I’ve got to be able to make pitches and that is the bottom line.”

Washington has scored at least seven runs in each of its past four games, something the franchise hadn’t accomplished since the Montreal Expos did it Aug. 24-27, 2003.

“I think we have a very good lineup right now,” Soriano said.

Who knows what it will look like by Monday, though, the last day teams can make trades without players having to clear waivers. Two hours before Tuesday’s first pitch, Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said the club had spoken to 27 of the 29 other major league teams about various players.

“The fire department is presently in my office, hosing down my phone, because all it does is burn,” Bowden said.

For now, Washington keeps playing with everyone it has, and Ortiz went six innings, allowing five runs and seven hits—including Eliezer Alfonzo’s solo homer in the fourth, and Durham’s two-run shot in the fifth, batting left-handed. Durham added his 18th homer of the season, a solo shot off Bowie while batting righty, in the eighth.

Durham, Giants manager Felipe Alou said, “became a slugger now. … By us having to have him hit there, he’s become a monster of a hitter, long ball, RBIs, both sides of the plate homers. He wasn’t like that when he came over here.”

Chad Cordero got out of a jam in the ninth for his 16th save. Alfonzo reached on an error leading off and pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney singled, but Cordero then got three consecutive outs, leaving Bonds in the on-deck circle when the game ended.

Bonds, who turned 42 on Monday, drew some boos when he first stepped into the on-deck circle in the first inning, and they grew louder as he strode to the batter’s box. The jeers were accompanied, though, by flashbulb pops. There were a handful of taunting signs, including “Hank didn’t cheat” and “Barroids.”

Notes

Nationals RF Jose Guillen had reconstructive ligament surgery on his right elbow Tuesday. … San Francisco lost its second straight. … It was Durham’s sixth multihomer game of his career.

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