WASHINGTON — Jeimer Candelario and Joey Meneses hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning, Alex Call also went deep, and the Washington Nationals snapped a five-game skid with an 8-3 win over the AL West-leading Texas Rangers on Saturday.
Jake Irvin earned his first victory since May 8 for Washington, which had lost 15 of its last 16 games at Nationals Park. Washington is an NL-worst 14-32 at home.
Josh Jung homered twice for Texas, which has lost seven of its last 10 games. Jung, the AL’s starting third baseman in next week’s All-Star Game, leads all major league rookies with 19 home runs.
The Nationals led 4-0 before Texas starter Andrew Heaney (5-6) recorded an out. After back-to-back singles, Candelario — who sat out Friday’s series opener after being hit by a pitch on his right knee a day earlier — homered to right-center.
Meneses then homered for the third time in two days — after going two months without one. It was the fourth time Washington hit consecutive home runs this season, and the first time since May 31.
“It just wasn’t good,” Heaney said. “Off-speed stuff wasn’t good, fastballs in fastball counts [got] too much plate, not putting guys away — just not a whole lot good.”
Meneses had two home runs in his first 80 games after smacking 13 in 56 contests as a rookie last season, and he could be on the cusp of a power surge after starting to get the ball in the air.
“I feel when those at-bats start coming, I feel a little bit more confident and start feeling good,” Meneses said through an interpreter. “I get in these little streaks where I get a little hot and my swing starts going in that direction.”
Call hit a two-run homer in the second, and an inning later Luis García tripled to right and came around to score when second baseman Marcus Semien’s relay throw sailed past third.
Irvin (2-5) remained in the game after a rain delay of an hour and 17 minutes at the start of the fourth inning. The rookie promptly walked Adolis García and allowed Jung’s home run to right. He managed to make it through five innings to win at home for the first time in nine starts.
“Mentally, you stay prepared like you’re just in a really, really long inning,” Irvin said. “I don’t know how to explain it other than that, but I know our bullpen was kind of taxed [Thursday] with the other rain delay, so I wanted to do whatever I could to get deep and help those guys out a little bit.”
Jung added a solo shot on the first pitch of the sixth against reliever Jordan Weems for his fourth career multihomer game and third this season.
Heaney, who was activated from the paternity list Friday, yielded eight runs, seven earned, in three innings. It matched his career high in runs allowed.
“I know he had a busy week,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “He just couldn’t get going there. The ball flies here in the daytime, and he’s a flyball pitcher, especially in that right-center area. That’s tough sledding to get down that much.”