National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Nationals hit 4 homers in 10-2 win over Rangers

WASHINGTON (AP) Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche agreed there's something to the theory that hitting is contagious.

If so, it looks as if there's suddenly an epidemic on the Nationals.

Anthony Rendon went 4 for 5 and hit one of four Washington home runs, and Doug Fister allowed four hits in six innings, sending the Nationals to a 10-2 rout of the Texas Rangers on Saturday.

LaRoche, Jose Lobaton and pinch-hitter Scott Hairston also homered.

"We've seen that a bunch," LaRoche said when asked if good hitting can spread through a team. "We saw stretches of it last year where we would do this and say `here we go.'

"This was huge to build off of, to know that we can go out there and get more than five or six hits a game and just keep pouring it on," LaRoche said. "That's what the really good teams do."

Washington has racked up 24 runs and 42 hits in its last three games, winning two straight to climb back to .500.

Fister (3-1) allowed two runs and retired the first 10 Texas batters. He's 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in his last four starts, with 21 strikeouts and two walks.

He came in with a 5.67 career ERA against the Rangers, but didn't give up a hit until Elvis Andrus doubled in the fourth.

"He's got the ability to work quickly, which certainly helps your defense," manager Matt Williams said. "They expect the ball to be put in play."

The defense helped Fister in the second when Rendon made stellar backhand play at third and threw out Adrian Beltre.

"That's a great play, probably the most difficult one over there," said Williams, a former third baseman. "It's the high chopper that you can't come get, that you have to give on and he goes down to his knees to stop himself and turn and throw. It's difficult because there is no momentum involved."

Rendon said: "I don't know. I just threw it. It happened to go to (LaRoche)."

Rangers starter Nick Tepesch (2-1) allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits. He had won two straight, but didn't make it past the second inning Saturday.

The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the first when Rendon lined Tepesch's pitch into the Rangers bullpen for his sixth home run. He had six straight hits over two days before striking out in the eighth.

In the second, Lobaton, spelling Wilson Ramos in a day game after a night game, worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a two-run homer into the first row of seats in right center. Tepesch had given up just two homers in 18 1-3 innings before Saturday.

"I think what caused him his demise (was) early on he was going deep in counts, and that's a fastball hitting team, and he had to try and throw a strike," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "And when he did they made him pay for it."

The Nationals weren't done in the second, with singles by Denard Span and Rendon. Jayson Werth doubled and the ball was bobbled in left by Shin-Soo Choo. Span and Rendon scored to make it 5-0.

Washington broke the game open in the fourth.

Andrus lost Fister's pop-up in the sun and it fell for a lead-off single. Then with first and second and one out, Werth hit a smash that Andrus bobbled before getting the force at second, with Werth just beating the relay.

LaRoche then followed with a three-run shot, his seventh of the year, putting the Nationals up 8-0. He has hit safely in all five games (7 for 22) since returning from a right quad strain.

The Rangers got to Fister in the fifth when Alex Rios walked and scored on a double by Rougned Odor, and Mitch Moreland added an RBI-single in the sixth. Hairston, pinch-hitting for Werth, hit a two-run homer in the sixth.

NOTES: Washington used pitcher Nick Martinez to pinch hit for Tepesch in the third inning. Martinez grounded out. ... It was the Rangers' sixth straight game without hitting a home run. ... Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman (broken right thumb) was to play five innings in left field during his second rehab game Saturday night at Class A Potomac, Virginia. Zimmerman went 0 for 3 with a sacrifice fly as the designated hitter Friday night. ... Hairston has 13 career pinch-hit homers, the most among active players. ... RH Yu Darvish (4-2, 2.35) faces Washington's Tanner Roark (3-3, 3.47) in Sunday's series finale.

Monfils makes his strategy work at French Open

PARIS (AP) Leading two sets to one but already down a break in the fourth, Gael Monfils decided he needed to catch his breath.

So he tanked the set. Lost it 6-0. Didn't even try.

And his strategy worked perfectly.

The 23rd-seeded Frenchman advanced to the fourth round at the French Open by beating Fabio Fognini 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 in a match that had a combined 137 unforced errors and one penalty point.

"He (broke) me straight away. Somehow I was starting to struggle a little bit, not cramping, but I feel really tired," Monfils said of his fourth-set tactics. "And then I tried to break back. Couldn't break back.

"It's, like, I want to serve first in the fifth. So, I mean, the only option I had is to take 6-love. Why should I make any effort?"

In the fifth set, Monfils jumped out to a 3-0 lead, earning the last point for free when Fognini was penalized for throwing his racket in frustration following a forehand that went wide. The racket landed near a ball boy.

Still sulking after the penalty point was ordered, it was Fognini's turn to slow things down.

The Italian called for a medical timeout to have his left thigh massaged and taped, drawing boos from the French crowd.

"I called the physio because I was feeling, during the fourth set, some pain on my left quad and nothing more," Fognini said.

Monfils, who lost to Fognini in five sets at Roland Garros in 2010, said there was more to it than that.

"You know, he was tired. He would grumble and say he's not happy, and he took time," Monfils said. "He told the supervisor or the chair umpire, he said, `I want to take my three minutes, get me the physio.'

"Then I told the chair umpire, `Well, I'm tired too.' I said, `One and a half minutes he's discussed with you and then after this he's asking for the physiotherapist to come? How strange.' But then, he did it right. He got the physiotherapist, and he broke back. Good thing he did that. Well played."

The match, however, was rather poorly played, stats-wise, anyway.

Monfils and Fognini combined to make more than twice as many unforced errors as winners, with the Italian managing 43 winners and 81 unforced errors and the Frenchman chipping in with 23 and 56.

Regardless of the numbers, Monfils is headed to the fourth round to face Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain, the man who eliminated Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka in the first round.

"I'm going to do ice bath for sure tonight and tomorrow. Will do a lot of stretching, massage, and maybe bike a little bit, try to eat good," Monfils said. "Try to be ready for Monday."

St. Louis, Moore overcome grief during Rangers run

NEW YORK (AP) Mourning and heartbreak have accompanied Martin St. Louis and Dominic Moore during the New York Rangers' run to the Stanley Cup finals.

The unexpected death of St. Louis' mother during these playoffs kept him away from hockey for one day. Moore was out of the NHL for 1 1/2 years after his wife contracted a rare and ultimately fatal illness.

Now they are finding solace on the ice and in the close-knit New York dressing room. The veteran forwards have provided key goals that have fueled the team's surge to the Eastern Conference title.

In the conference finals against Montreal, St. Louis scored in overtime of Game 4 to give the Rangers a 3-1 series lead. Moore netted the only goal Thursday as New York advanced to the Cup finals for the first time in 20 years with a Game 6 victory at raucous Madison Square Garden.

The 38-year-old St. Louis has been counted on to score during his long career. Moore, a grinder, is chipping in from the Rangers' gritty fourth line. Of his three playoff goals, two have been game-winners.

"It's an incredible feeling to be able to play for the Cup," the 33-year-old Moore said. "The opportunity is something special that you look forward to since you're a kid."

It is a dream that might have seemed lost not long ago.

Moore stepped away from the San Jose Sharks in April 2012 during the playoffs to take care of his wife, Katie, who died in January 2013 from liver cancer at 32.

Moore began his NHL career with the Rangers during the 2003-04 season after playing at Harvard. He had stints with Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Toronto, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Tampa Bay and San Jose, before returning to New York last summer on a one-year, $1 million deal.

"It's been a long, pretty amazing journey, so far, and hopefully it continues," Moore said. "I owe a lot to my teammates for helping me get through this last year and a half. I just feel tremendously proud to be a part of this team, especially amid the circumstances of going to the Stanley Cup finals."

He split the 2011-12 season with Tampa Bay and San Jose, scoring four goals and adding 21 assists in 79 games. Moore's time away didn't dull his skills or his desire. Now he is on the cusp of a championship.

"Every time we've had a big game, he's stepped up with a great performance," defenseman Marc Staal said. "He's a guy that talks about it a lot, too - not being afraid to make mistakes, and going out there and playing confident."

St. Louis' turmoil was more sudden. He learned of his mother's death when he arrived in Pittsburgh before Game 5 of the second round. The Rangers were already facing playoff elimination after a subpar home loss the night before dropped them into a 3-1 series hole.

St. Louis headed home to the Montreal area to be with his family, but returned to Pittsburgh the next day. The gesture galvanized the club, the players comforting a grieving teammate. The Rangers went on to the best comeback in franchise history.

New York beat Pittsburgh in Game 5, went home for another win on Mother's Day - a game in which St. Louis scored the first goal - and then claimed Game 7 back on the road to advance to the conference finals.

"I know both (Moore) and Marty have gone through some challenging times," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "I think they've found refuge, found a way to find a place where they can be happy. That is at the rink with their teammates and on the ice. They've both been very inspirational leaders throughout the whole thing."

The Rangers are 7-2 since St. Louis' mother died. The funeral was held outside Montreal between Games 1 and 2 there, allowing the Rangers to attend as a team.

Moore had six goals and 12 assists in 73 regular-season games. He scored twice in the first round against Philadelphia, including the winner in Game 5. He is the Rangers' nominee for the Masterton Trophy, given to the NHL player who best exemplifies perseverance and dedication to hockey.

"There have been quite a few story lines this year, and those two are obviously big ones," assistant captain Brad Richards said, referring to Moore and St. Louis. "That's just the way things go with teams that go through runs. There always seem to be little things that you can grab and build on.

"The stars have to align, and it's great that those guys have the feeling that someone is watching over them and helping them out."

Pages