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WSH@COL: Zimmerman collects his 1,000th career hit

DENVER -- Tyler Moore hit a three-run shot to the left-field seats in the fifth inning, then returned to a Nationals dugout full of high-fives, back-slaps and one wisecrack from Adam LaRoche.

"You didn't have to show me up like that," LaRoche said. So LaRoche followed an inning later with his second home run of the game, a solo shot the same direction. It was that kind of night for the Nationals -- hits and runs galore, one after another -- in a dominating 12-5 win over the Rockies Tuesday night at Coors Field.

The achievements in the thin Colorado air could serve as the perfect medicine for a Nationals team that had lost two in a row -- and seven of their previous 10 -- as their lead in the National League East narrowed to 3 1/2 games.

It didn't even matter that starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (10-3) had his worst game as a National, giving up four earned runs (five total) on a season-high eight hits.

To recap:

• The club had 21 hits, tying for the most in Nationals history, since the move to Washington in 2005. Each starting player recorded a hit, including Gonzalez, who collected an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning. Michael Morse and Ian Desmond each went 4-for-5 with two RBIs. Desmond hit three doubles, a career-high.

• Washington set a season high with 12 runs, the most since May 20, 2011. LaRoche and Moore drove in three runs apiece, while LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman each scored three.

• A five-run fifth inning that extended the Nats' lead from 4-3 to 9-3 tied the club's season high for runs in one inning.

• The 11 extra-base hits by the Nationals -- seven doubles and four home runs -- was a team record. Morse, Zimmerman and Jesus Flores each doubled and Zimmerman also added a sixth-inning homer.

• It was only fitting that Zimmerman collected career hit No. 1,000 on a night when the Nationals went berserk with the bats, tagging Rockies starter Christian Friedrich (4-5) for four runs in 4 1/3 innings and reliever Guillermo Moscoso for a career-high eight in 1 2/3 innings.

"Guillermo Moscoso didn't have anything tonight," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy. "I think the numbers would indicate that."

So, then, it was especially fitting that Zimmerman also notched career hit No. 1,001 -- an exclamatory home run to left field that was part of a three-run sixth inning.

"Our offense has been so inconsistent all year, for us to continue to grow and get better and use this as a springboard is something we need to do," Zimmerman said. "We had good at-bats tonight. We took a lot of pitches that we had been swinging at, we got our pitch. And we didn't miss them."

Just hours before the game, manager Davey Johnson adamantly said the club's offensive woes -- near the bottom of the National League in most hitting categories -- were due to a poor plate approach and not the fault of the coaching staff.

"The responsibility goes with the hitter," Johnson said. "It's his job to get a pitch to hit, and hit it. The hitting coach can't help him."

After the win, in front of his office in the visitors' clubhouse, Johnson could breathe a sigh of relief.

"They finally started listening to me," Johnson said with a laugh. "It only took them a year. There's talent here, and a game like this can get things going."

It was a stark difference from Monday, when the Nationals spoiled a fine start from Stephen Strasburg, providing him with little support in a 4-2 loss. Strasburg would have appreciated the help tonight, and Gonzalez certainly did.

"It's good seeing the guys come alive and swing the bat," said Gonzalez, who became the second left-handed National to win 10 games in a season. "It's one of those nights where you can sit back and attack the strike zone. I was trying to pound the strike zone, minimize the damage and let my team get back in the dugout and score some more runs."

The Nationals pitching staff leads the Majors in runs allowed, ERA and batting average against, among other categories. The offense, on the other hand, entered the day with the fourth-fewest runs per game in the Majors. It was nice for the bats to finally return the favor.

"Lucky for us, we have a really good pitching staff that's kind of been the backbone of this team -- getting us to where we're at now," Zimmerman said. "Hopefully as we continue to get better as an offense, we'll be able to help them out, too."

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