Game in a nutshell: On the first day of school for many in the region, the Nationals took the Cubs' beleaguered pitching staff to school. They crushed six home runs, racked up 19 hits, knocked rookie starter Chris Rusin out before he recorded an out in the bottom of the second and then feasted on the cavalcade of relievers Dale Sveum sent to the mound. Edwin Jackson wasn't in top form, but he struck out eight batters and made it through 5 23 innings to earn his ninth win. The rest was fairly academic, with the Nationals bullpen finishing this game off and putting them 31 games over .500 to match their high-point of the season. With the Braves' loss to the Rockies, the Nats now lead the NL East by a season-high 7 12 games. Their magic number for the division title is down to 20.
Hitting highlight: How do you pick just one highlight from an offensive explosion like this? How about we pick six: the six home runs the Nationals hit against a merry-go-round of Cubs pitchers. Ian Desmond went opposite-field in the first for his 20th of the season. Jesus Flores found the Red Porch in the second for his fifth of the season. Adam LaRoche also deposited one in the Red Porch for his 26th of the season (and third in four days). Tyler Moore followed two batters later with a moonshot to left for his eighth of the year. Ryan Zimmerman went opposite-field for his 18th this year. And LaRoche put the finishing touches on this explosive night with his second of the game, fourth in four days, 27th of the year. Put it all together and you've got history: The first time a D.C. ballclub has ever hit six home runs in a home game.
Pitching highlight: No disrespect to Jackson, who was dominant at times (striking out five in a row at one point), but let's show some love here to Christian Garcia. Making his major-league debut at age 27, the two-time Tommy John surgery survivor faced only one batter and threw only three pitches. But those three pitches were mighty impressive. Each registered at least 95 mph. And the last of them induced a pop-up to quash a potential Cubs rally in the sixth inning. Sure, it was a short debut, but it certainly was a sweet debut for a guy who worked tirelessly to get the opportunity.
Key stat: In 27 games since he returned from the disabled list, Jayson Werth has scored 22 runs. Over a 162-game season, that would equate to 132 runs.
Up next: Gio Gonzalez will be seeking his 18th win of the season tomorrow night when he goes up against Cubs right-hander Chris Volstad at 7:05 p.m.