Game 154 lineups: Nats at Pirates

PITTSBURGH - It has cooled off considerably here in the last 24 hours. It was actually pretty warm and muggy yesterday, but now it’s cool and breezy. It almost feels like, you know, fall. Which, of course, it now is. It also feels like the kind of weather you associate with postseason baseball. So perhaps tonight is the night the Nationals officially ensure they’ll be ... read more

More on Petit, Gonzalez, Harper and Zimmerman

PITTSBURGH - The primary focus of last night’s game was on the bottom of the ninth, when Mark Melancon blew his first save with the Nationals on Sean Rodriguez’s two-out double past a possibly mis-positioned Trea Turner in center field. But there was a lot more to the Nats’ 6-5 11-inning loss than that, so let’s recap some other important (or mildly interesting) developments ... ... read more

Ninth-inning gaffe leaves Nationals waiting another day

PITTSBURGH - The plastic curtains were taped up high above the lockers inside the visitors’ clubhouse at PNC Park, even after the Nationals suffered a gut punch of a 6-5 11-inning loss to the Pirates tonight, even after the Mets had earlier beaten the Phillies in convincing fashion to prevent any possibility of a celebration here. The clubhouse crew, however, went through the trouble to ... read more

Melancon blows first save, Nats clincher put on hold

PITTSBURGH - The National League East lead has come surprisingly easily to the Nationals, who after a brief, four-day stint in early May have held a firm grasp on first place in the division every single moment since. The actual clinching of that title? That is requiring a bit more work and patience than hoped. Two things needed to happen tonight for the Nationals to ... read more

Baker wants players to fully celebrate clincher (Nats lose 6-5 in 11)

PITTSBURGH - They weren’t obvious to the naked eye, but they were there this afternoon, tucked away on the fringes of the visitors’ clubhouse at PNC Park: boxes of champagne. The Nationals know they’ll be popping those things open at some point, perhaps as soon as tonight if they can beat the Pirates and the Phillies can beat the Mets at Citi Field. Yet there ... read more

Murphy shut down for weekend with buttocks strain

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals are shutting down Daniel Murphy for at least the weekend after an MRI on the MVP candidate’s left leg revealed a buttocks strain, manager Dusty Baker said. Murphy hasn’t been in the Nationals lineup since Saturday in Atlanta, when he appeared to hurt himself running the bases. He did take two pinch-hit at-bats during this week’s series in Miami, but would ... read more

Game 153 lineups: Nats at Pirates

PITTSBURGH - Hello from PNC Park, splendid as ever, and the possible site tonight of something special. Not for the home club, which has held a couple of celebrations here the last few years, but for the Nationals, who tonight have a chance to clinch a division title. The Nationals’ magic number, as surely you know by now, is two. In order to clinch the ... read more

Nationals have chance to clinch NL East title tonight

From the moment they were eliminated from playoff contention 363 days ago, this was the Nationals’ primary focus. They reshaped their roster over the winter. They fired one manager, almost hired another, then wound up with yet another in the end. They watched key free agents depart. They made a couple of calculated moves to address those vacancies. They reported to spring training in Viera ... read more