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Desmond's bat powers Nationals to 5-2 win over White Sox

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON - Ian Desmond had extra-base hits in his first three at-bats and scored the tie-breaking run in the fourth as the Washington Nationals beat the Chicago White Sox 5-2 on Wednesday before 24,586 fans.

The Nationals (6-2) are now 5-0 at home this season, while the White Sox (4-4), whose previous four games were decided by one run, will try to salvage the final game of the interleague series Thursday.

Washington made it 4-2 in the sixth as Desmond led off with a triple against the wall in center and then trotted home as Danny Espinosa smashed a hard shot past the first base bag for a double.

Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki, who had walked, advanced on a sacrifice bunt by winning pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (2-0). Espinosa then scored to make it 5-2 as Chicago shortstop Alexei Ramirez could not handle a hard-hit single by Denard Span with the infield drawn in against reliever Donnie Veal.

Nate Jones came out of the White Sox bullpen and got Jayson Werth to ground into a double play to get out of the inning, but the damage had been done.

The White Sox had pulled within 3-2 in the sixth as hot-hitting Alex Rios grounded out to drive in Aleandro De Aza, who had led off with a double.

Chicago starter and local product Gavin Floyd (0-2) went 5 1/3 innings and allowed nine hits and five earned runs.

Washington starter Zimmermann went seven innings and allowed two earned runs and the bullpen of Drew Storen in the eighth and Rafael Soriano in the ninth closed out the victory. Storen retired Rios on a grounder with a runner on second to end the eighth and Soriano got Conor Gillaspie on a foul pop to end the game with a runner on base.

Desmond struck out looking in his fourth at bat in the seventh. The double play combination of shortstop Desmond (three hits) and second baseman Espinosa (two) combined for five hits and three runs.

Desmond doubled for the second time in the game and scored on a single by Espinosa to break a tie and give Washington a 2-1 lead in the fourth.

Harper tied the game at 1-1 with a leadoff homer to right on the first pitch in the last of the fourth against Chicago starter Gavin Floyd, a native of nearby Annapolis, Md.

It was the fourth homer of the season for Harper, and it came one day after the Nationals hit four homers against the White Sox.

Washington took a 3-1 lead in the fifth. Jayson Werth and Harper hit back-to-back singles with one out, and Werth scored on a single to right by Ryan Zimmerman. Floyd got out of the jam by inducing Adam LaRoche to ground into an inning-ending double play.

The White Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first. Jeff Keppinger singled with one out and advanced to third on a double by Alex Rios, who homered in each of the previous four games.

Keppinger then came in to score on a groundout by Adam Dunn, the former Washington slugger who started in left field for the White Sox.

Floyd entered the game 1-1 with a 3.67 ERA in five career starts against the Nationals. He grew up about 35 miles northeast of Nationals Park in the same Severna Park, Md., neighborhood as Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Zimmermann, who allowed one run in his first start of the year against the Marlins, allowed one run in the first five innings Wednesday.

The start of the game was delayed 16 minutes as umpires were caught in traffic during the height of cherry blossom season in the nation's capital.

NOTES: For the second game in a row, the White Sox were without pitching coach Don Cooper, who was taken to a Northern Virginia hospital on Tuesday with diverticulitis. Bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen filled in as pitching coach, with bullpen catcher Mark Salas working as the bullpen coach. ... Chicago second baseman Gordon Beckham was unavailable and is day-to-day due to nerve irritation in his left wrist. He left Tuesday's game in the third inning. "We will figure it out on a daily basis according to how Gordon is feeling," manager Robin Ventura said of the second base situation. Keppinger started at second Wednesday. ... The homer by Harper was the 15th of the season for the Nats in eight games. ... Dunn, who played for the Nationals in 2009-10, averaged 38 homers in two seasons in Washington. Ventura was asked about his confidence in Dunn playing left. "I guess it's pretty good," said Ventura, with Dunn standing nearby. "He doesn't lack confidence." ... The previous four White Sox games were all been decided by one run.
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