Hernandez on first four-game win streak in three years

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Washington Nationals can't explain their dominance of Arizona. They just hope it continues.

"You won't keep getting those hits every day," said Ryan Church, who was 3-for-3 with a home run and double in Washington's 4-3 win over the Diamondbacks on Monday night. "You just try to stay with it as long as you can, keep whipping that horse until it finally falls dead."

Nick Johnson also had three hits, driving in two runs with a homer and tiebreaking double, and Livan Hernandez worked seven innings to win his fourth straight game for the first time in three years.

"That's how winning teams continue to win," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "Everybody contributes."

Hernandez (5-2), who went the distance in a 5-2 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday, allowed eight hits, including a two-run homer by Chad Tracy, and struck out six. He also walked six, two intentionally, but was able to pitch his way out of trouble until a three-run seventh.

Shawn Green followed Tracy's homer, a walk to Quinton McCracken and a double by Troy Glaus with a sacrifice fly.

That tied it, and Glaus reached third. But, after Jose Cruz Jr. was walked, former Diamondback Carlos Baerga stopped a sharp grounder at second, got up out of the dirt and threw Royce Clayton
out at first.

"That decided the game right there," Hernandez said. "He made a good play. I was happy to get out of that inning."

Washington answered in the eighth. Jamey Carroll singled against Arizona reliever Jose Valverde (0-1), reached second on a passed ball and scored on Johnson's double.

Hector Carrasco pitched a scoreless eighth -- getting Tracy to hit into an inning-ending double play after singles by Alex Cintron
and Craig Counsell -- and Chad Cordero pitched the ninth for his seventh save.

Hernandez won his fourth straight start for the first time since April 2-19, 2002. The victory was his 100th against 96 losses.

"That's a lot," he said. "I want to play a long time. I want to make it one day to 200."

Washington, then playing as the Montreal Expos, swept the Diamondbacks last year and beat them in a three-game set that began with the major leagues' return to RFK Stadium on April 14.

Hernandez allowed two hits through four innings before finding trouble in the fifth.

Arizona catcher Chris Snyder lumbered to first with an infield hit. Brandon Webb sacrificed him to second, Hernandez walked Counsell and Tracy loaded the bases with a single.

That's when the Diamondbacks fell apart.

Luis Gonzalez became irate when plate umpire Jeff Nelson called him out on strikes. Gonzalez argued with Nelson until he was tossed.

Nelson also ejected manager Bob Melvin, and the inning ended when Glaus also took a called third strike.

"I got put in a hole, and I was just trying to tell the ump that I have a pretty good idea what the strike zone is," Gonzalez said. "I don't strike out 100 times a year, and to get rung up on a pitch like that is what was frustrating."

Melvin found solace in the rally.

"We came back on a guy that has been extremely difficult on us," he said. "It's good to see. Trace obviously made a big hit there."

The Nationals got their first run in the third when Brian Schneider singled, advanced on the first of Webb's two wild pitches and scored on Brad Wilkerson's two-out double off the fence in right-center.

Johnson led off the fourth with a single, but Snyder threw him out trying to steal second.

That cost the Nationals a run, because Church doubled with two outs only to be stranded when Vinny Castilla, the next batter, took a called third strike.

Johnson and Church made it 3-0 with homers in the fifth.

Webb also went seven innings, giving up nine hits and three runs.

Game notes
The Nationals had 12 hits -- their seventh straight game with 10 or more and their eighth in nine games. ... Washington is 5-2 on a nine-game road trip. ... The paid attendance of 19,440 was the fourth-smallest in Bank One Ballpark history -- all since 18,742 turned out for Colorado on April 11. ... The Diamondbacks turned two double plays, giving them a major league-high 40. ... Cruz,
activated from the DL after missing 27 games with a sore back, was 1-for-1 and walked four times. The four walks tied a franchise record last achieved by Gonzalez on May 26, 2002, against the Dodgers. ... Baerga was in because shortstop Cristian Guzman pulled his left hamstring running to first in the seventh inning. Robinson
said Guzman, replaced at short by second baseman Carroll, would not be used again until at least Friday.