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What's your final take on the Nats' 2013 campaign?

PHOENIX - I'm about to say goodbye to Phoenix and wrap up the 2013 season from a personal perspective, as my flight back east is set to take off in just a little bit. Quickly, I'd like to say thank you to each and every one of you for following along this season, both here on the blog and on Twitter. While it's a long

Nats players pulling for Knorr, McCatty as offseason begins

PHOENIX - The Nationals' 2013 season is over. "World Series or bust" came up bust. One thing that's strange about professional sports is how quickly the focus inevitably turns once a season ends. A week ago, the Nats embarked on a road trip still hoping to pull off a miraculous run into the postseason. Two days ago, they ran out their regular lineup and played

Final thoughts from players, coaches on Johnson's last game

PHOENIX - Pitching coach Steve McCatty, like most of the Nationals' coaches, has an interesting relationship with Davey Johnson. Johnson will tend to yell a decent amount. He demands plenty from his coaches. He'll complain about mistakes and ask why various moves weren't made. Then, he'll share a laugh with whoever he was yelling at just seconds or minutes earlier, cracking that big smile that

Quotes from the clubhouse after Nats' 3-2 loss in season finale

PHOENIX - If you were expecting the waterworks to kick in for Davey Johnson after his last game as Nationals manager, you can keep on waiting. Johnson was all smiles after today's 3-2 Nationals loss in the regular season finale, this despite the fact that his managerial career ends on a losing note. He finishes his career with a 1,372-1,071 record, 301 games above the

Roark keeps doing Roark things (Nats lose 3-2 in season finale)

PHOENIX - At this point, it probably shouldn't surprise anyone to see Tanner Roark get through six innings having allowed just one run on two hits and having thrown only 69 pitches. The rookie right-hander just keeps churning out quality outings, going after hitters, keeping the ball down and avoiding mistake pitches. He allowed an unearned run in the first inning after committing a two-base

Davey Johnson: "It's been a journey. A fun journey"

PHOENIX - During reporters' pregame session with Davey Johnson this morning, a couple questions were fired at the 70-year-old skipper about what it feels like knowing today is his last game as a major league manager. Has it hit him yet? How long will it take to get used to life away from the game? "It's not like I'm dying tomorrow! Good lord," Johnson said,

Werth scratched from lineup in Nats finale (with Diamondbacks lineup)

PHOENIX - Jayson Werth has been scratched from the lineup in the Nationals season finale. Scott Hairston will play right field and bat third. That leaves the Nats' lineup today looking like something we might see during spring training. For the Nats LF Jeff Kobernus 3B Anthony Rendon RF Scott Hairston 1B Tyler Moore SS Zach Walters 2B Steve Lombardozzi C Jhonatan Solano CF Eury

Randy Knorr: "Everybody would want this job"

PHOENIX - By no means is it a secret. General manager Mike Rizzo knows it. Nationals players know it. At this point, fans surely know it. Randy Knorr is interested in the Washington Nationals' managerial job that will open up once Davey Johnson steps aside at the conclusion of today's game. The cat was never really in the bag. But it's certainly out now. "Yeah,

Haren on his final start, Tracy on his big night

PHOENIX - The first half of Dan Haren's season was awful. He had a 6.15 ERA and led the majors in home runs allowed through 15 starts. But man, did Haren turn things around in a pretty big way. After throwing seven scoreless innings in tonight's 2-0 Nationals win, Haren's ERA over his final 15 starts of the season is a strong 3.29, he has

Johnson on a milestone win of sorts, Haren's final start and plans for tomorrow's finale

PHOENIX - Tonight's 2-0 Nationals win had some special significance to manager Davey Johnson as his managerial career comes towards its end. It guaranteed that Johnson will finish with a lifetime record of at least 300 games over .500. That stat took particular meaning for Johnson in recent days, as silly as it might sound to some, but his players were able to deliver for

Triple the fun for Span (Haren notches 10th win in Nats' 2-0 victory)

PHOENIX - The slide into third might not have been textbook, but Denard Span's leadoff triple in the top of the sixth has allowed the Nationals to break a scoreless tie in the sixth inning here at Chase Field. It's also given Span the major league lead in triples this season. Span roped a first-pitch changeup from Diamondbacks righty Brandon McCarthy into the right field

Rizzo on the season's disappointments and offseason priorities

PHOENIX - Reporters sat down with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo for more than 13 minutes a bit ago, discussing what went wrong this season that left the Nats on the outside of the playoffs looking in and where Rizzo will look to improve the club this offseason. I'll have bits of that interview coming throughout the next few days, but first, here is some

Gonzalez to start tomorrow, LaRoche done for the season

PHOENIX - After some initial indecision about who would start tomorrow in the Nationals' season finale, Gio Gonzalez has decided to take the ball for Davey Johnson's last game as Nats manager. Gonzalez had been initially under the impression that Tanner Roark would start the finale, but Johnson told Gonzalez that he'd like the left-hander to pitch tomorrow to help him ensure that he finishes

Haren likely making his final start as a National (LaRoche scratched)

PHOENIX - Dan Haren will look to cap a disappointing season on a positive note tonight when he takes on the Diamondbacks in what will likely be his final start as a National. A free agent this offseason after his one-year, $13 million deal with the Nats comes to an end, Haren will be shopping around for a new team, but he knows he likely

Some leftovers from last night

PHOENIX - Just prior to his fifth-inning home run Friday night, Jayson Werth noticed that the bat that he was using had splintered. It was the same bat he'd used for weeks, a much longer life span than most bats Werth handles, and had delivered many big hits over what has been a personal hot stretch. Werth needed a new piece of lumber, so he

Strasburg on his season: "I learned a lot"

PHOENIX - In some ways, tonight's start exemplified Stephen Strasburg's season. Strasburg had a couple of moments where he struggled to locate and had a shaky stretch in the third inning where he walked two batters and hit Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin with a 1-2 curveball. He had just four strikeouts in seven innings of work. But he finished the night going a solid seven

Johnson on Strasburg's season and Nats' 8-4 win

PHOENIX - Not only did tonight's 8-4 Nationals win finish off Stephen Strasburg's season on a high note and feature Jayson Werth's 25th homer of the year, it also brought Davey Johnson one win away from reaching a statistical milestone that somewhat strangely holds a decent amount of importance for him. With one more win this season, Johnson would be guaranteed to finish at least

Strasburg's 2013 season is done (Nats win 8-4)

PHOENIX - This will wrap up Stephen Strasburg's 2013 season. The right-hander went seven strong innings tonight, and leaves with the Nationals holding an 8-2 lead mid-way through the eighth thanks to Wilson Ramos' three-run shot. It was Ramos' 16th homer of the season, and it's turned this game into a blowout. Outside of a blip in the third inning in which he walked two,

Nats off to a shaky start out west (Werth's 25th homer is a bomb)

PHOENIX - Stephen Strasburg's third inning of work included two walks, including one to the Diamondbacks' number eight hitter, hitting the opposing pitcher on a 1-2 curveball when said opposing pitcher was squaring around to bunt, and two singles. Frankly, Strasburg was fortunate to come out of the inning having just allowed two runs. An RBI single by Gerardo Parra broke a scoreless tie and

Sunday's starter still up in the air; Johnson sums up Strasburg's season

PHOENIX - We know either Gio Gonzalez or Tanner Roark will start for the Nationals in the season finale Sunday. We still just don't know which of the two it'll be. Essentially, it boils down to how the Nats fare in the first two games of this series. If they win or lose both games, it sounds like Davey Johnson will start Roark on Sunday.

Kobernus leading off, Moore playing first in Strasburg's 2013 finale

PHOENIX - The final series of the Nationals' 2013 season begins tonight. Three games here at Chase Field against the Diamondbacks are all that separates the Nats from the offseason and the frustration that surely comes from watching postseason baseball from home. Stephen Strasburg will make his final start of the season tonight, while the Diamondbacks will send left-hander Patrick Corbin to the mound. Jeff

One intriguing left-handed bullpen option for 2014

PHOENIX - Hello from Arizona, where I'll make sure to check with the Diamondbacks before taking a dip in their pool after any of the games this weekend. After all, I don't want Senator John McCain calling me an "overpaid, immature, arrogant, spoiled brat." Davey Johnson has said time and time again that he wishes that the Nationals had come into this season with more

Dan Haren on his frustrating season as a National and what lies ahead

ST. LOUIS - Dan Haren is one of the most self-aware pitchers you'll find in the major leagues. He knows what he was brought to D.C. to do. He knows that largely, he hasn't done it. And despite his solid performance since coming off the disabled list in early July, Haren isn't going to try and color his 2013 season in favorable terms. When asked

Nats discuss lopsided battles with Cardinals and a recent mental dropoff

ST. LOUIS - Davey Johnson readily admits the Cardinals kicked the Nationals' butts this season. Denard Span doesn't disagree. In fact, he agrees 100 percent. "I think they just flat-out kicked our butt. You lose six games, they just were better than us," Span said. On paper, the Nationals and Cardinals seemed to match up pretty evenly this season. They both have talented, deep rotations.

A disappointing finish to a stellar season for Zimmermann

ST. LOUIS - After a rough month of July in which he battled a lingering neck injury and went 0-3 in a four-start stretch, Jordan Zimmermann's chances of even approaching the 20-win mark seemed pretty darn slim. But Zimmermann rebounded this month, going 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four September starts coming into today's outing, giving him a shot at reaching 20 victories on

Johnson: "They just kicked our butt in just about every aspect"

ST. LOUIS - The Nationals and Cardinals played an incredibly tight, entertaining five-game postseason series last fall. This year, the Cardinals pushed the Nats around, winning all six games between the teams in sweeping the season series. Coming into this three-game set at Busch Stadium, the Nats had hoped to keep their slim postseason chances alive into the final series of the season in Arizona.

Zimmermann in a hole (Nats lose 4-1, swept in St. Louis)

ST. LOUIS - This Cardinals lineup is no picnic for opposing pitchers, especially pitchers named Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann entered today's start with a 9.12 ERA in five career regular season outings against the Cardinals. And that doesn't include his start in Game 2 of the National League Division Series last year, in which Zimmermann lasted just three innings and allowed five runs on seven hits.

How important is 20 wins in this day and age?

ST. LOUIS - Jordan Zimmermann will have one shot at reaching the 20-win mark this season. That shot comes this afternoon in St. Louis. Tigers righty Max Scherzer put himself in a situation (with significant help from his teammates in terms of run support) where he had five cracks at notching his 20th win before he finally hit that mark. That's what getting to getting

Zimmermann gunning for 20th win (with Cardinals lineup)

ST. LOUIS - Jordan Zimmermann will be seeking his 20th victory of the season when the Nationals meet the Cardinals in a 1:45 p.m. game this afternoon. He'll be trying to give the Nationals back-to-back 20-game winners, after Gio Gonzalez went 21-8 in 2012. The only other 20-game winner in franchise history was Ross Grimsley, who notched 20 wins in 1978. The Nats will stick

Opening up the unwritten rulebook

ST. LOUIS - As if the Nationals don't see enough young hurlers with upper-90s fastballs in their own division - with Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, Craig Kimbrel and others - they had to deal with another one last night. Michael Wacha is just 22. He's made just 15 big league appearances. But when you throw 98 mph and can control a changeup that comes in

Zimmerman, LaRoche and Span discuss Wacha's dominance

ST. LOUIS - It's been a bit of a rough 24 hours for the Nationals. They were eliminated from postseason contention last night, and tonight, they came within an out of being the first D.C. team to be no-hit since 1966. Ryan Zimmerman saved the Nats from that distinction with his infield hit with two outs in the top of the ninth, a chopper that

Hearing from Johnson and Matheny after Wacha's near no-no

ST. LOUIS - Davey Johnson, a Texas A&M guy, couldn't help but be impressed with what Michael Wacha, another A&M guy, did tonight, as the 22-year-old right-hander came just inches away from a no-hitter in the Cardinals' 2-0 win over the Nationals. Wacha was one out away from being the first Cardinals pitcher to throw a no-hitter in St. Louis in 30 years, but Ryan

Wacha think of the rookie? (Nats nearly no-hit in 2-0 loss)

ST. LOUIS - Apologies for that awful pun in the headline. This is how I entertain myself over the course of a 162-game season. Cardinals starter Michael Wacha has absolutely dominated the Nationals through four innings tonight, retiring all 12 batters he's seen, six of whom have gone down on strikes. The 22-year-old right-hander, who was the Cardinals' first-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player

Johnson on playing his starters and Lombardozzi's strong season

ST. LOUIS - Davey Johnson says he didn't sleep too well last night. Can't really blame him. In his last season as manager of the Nationals, he officially saw his team get knocked from the playoff picture last night. The season that Johnson labeled as "World Series or bust" back at the Winter Meetings reached bust here in St. Louis, leaving Johnson to go through

Even after elimination, Nats sticking with regular lineup

ST. LOUIS - Prior to yesterday's game, Davey Johnson said that even if his team was to be eliminated from the playoff picture, he still planned on "putting my best foot forward" by starting his regular players down the stretch. Johnson is a man of his word. The Nationals skipper is running out his normal starting lineup today in game two of this three-game set

Harper: "I've got to try to be in this lineup every night"

ST. LOUIS - It was a pretty innocuous question, but one that drew an interesting answer. After the Nationals were eliminated from postseason contention last night, Bryce Harper was asked how much he thinks back to the early part of the season and what could have been different when the Nats struggled to gain momentum and put together any extended period of strong play. "I

Dealing with the defeat

ST. LOUIS - One image from the postgame scene in the Nationals clubhouse last night stays with me above all others this morning. That image is Bryce Harper seated at his locker, staring at nothing in particular. Harper was in full uniform, his feet resting on the wooden beams on either side of his locker. He stayed in that position for nearly 45 minutes after

Hearing from Desmond, LaRoche and Harper after Nats are eliminated

ST. LOUIS - A harsh reality hit the Nationals tonight following their 4-3 loss to the Cardinals, a defeat that came just minutes after the Pirates and Reds had taken care of business and earned late wins. "The postseason door is officially closed," Ian Desmond said. The Nats will have five more regular season games and then head their separate ways, bound for the offseason

Davey Johnson: "We gave it a good fight. We just came up short"

ST. LOUIS - Minutes after his team had been mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture, Davey Johnson held back tears as he discussed the Nationals' dreams of postseason baseball coming to an end. Johnson, the Nats' 70-year-old skipper who is in his final season at the helm of this team, spoke evenly, and his voice didn't break at any point during his session with reporters,

On the verge of elimination (Nats lose, won't be postseason-bound)

ST. LOUIS - Not only are the Nationals losing here in the late innings in St. Louis, but the Pirates and Reds just won in dramatic fashion. With their win, the Pirates will clinch a playoff spot if the Nats lose here tonight. Same deal with the Reds. Put in other words, the Nats are three outs away from elimination. The Nats go into the

A big blast, then a few zeros (Roark finally allows a homer)

ST. LOUIS - Jayson Werth got the road trip started on a positive note early on tonight. Boy, did he ever. Werth demolished a 2-2 curveball from Adam Wainwright way out to left field for a two-run shot in the top of the first inning, giving the Nationals a 2-0 lead right off the bat. It was an absolute bomb, one that nearly traveled to

Johnson on rotation alignment, battle with Cards and Zimmerman's defense

ST. LOUIS - Tanner Roark gets the start tonight for the Nationals in the opener of their three-game set with the Cardinals, but this will probably be the last time we'll see the rookie right-hander start a game this season. Manager Davey Johnson has laid out his rotation for the remainder of the season, and he'll have Roark move back to the bullpen following tonight's

Roark vs. Wainwright tonight in St. Louis (Holliday scratched)

ST. LOUIS - We've got a pretty strong pitching matchup tonight at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, as Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright will oppose Nationals righty Tanner Roark. If I had written that sentence back in June, you all would've thought I was drunk. But while Roark obviously isn't on Wainwright's level, he has burst onto the scene over the last couple of months and

How much roster turnover will be needed?

Well, here we go. The final stretch. The Nationals will kick off a three-game series against the Cardinals in St. Louis tonight, then fly to Phoenix for three more to close out the regular season. They currently sit five games back of both the Pirates and the Reds with six games to play. If the Nats make up those five games, they'll have a one-game

Johnson on pregame ceremony: "I was really moved by everything"

The Nationals will mathematically remain alive into their series-opener in St. Louis tomorrow regardless of what happens tonight in the nightcap of the doubleheader between the Nats and Marlins, but this afternoon's action might've effectively ended any real chances the Nats had at a playoff spot. Their loss combined with the Reds' win puts the Nats 5 1/2 games back of both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh

Homers hurt Haren again (Nats lose 4-2, Braves clinch NL East title)

Dan Haren is done after six innings of work this afternoon, and if not for two mistakes that turned into home runs, the veteran right-hander might've turned in a pretty strong outing. As it is, it will still officially go down as a quality start, but Haren and the Nationals trail 3-0 in the sixth. Haren gave up a two-run bomb to Giancarlo Stanton in

Davey Johnson honored in pregame ceremony (with game update)

On what will likely be the last day that Davey Johnson stands in the Nationals Park dugout as manager, the Nationals honored Johnson with a ceremony lasting more than 10 minutes before this afternoon's game. The ceremony included a video tribute, the presentation of a Tiffany crystal from Nationals ownership, inscribed with, "In celebration of your decorated baseball legacy and contributions to the Washington Nationals,"

The day after the delay

How do players spend their time during a 3-hour, 45-minute rain delay? Much the way you'd expect, I guess. They lay around on sofas. They watch college football. They put on construction worker's attire and joke around. They attack the food spread laid out in the kitchen. Then maybe they attack the spread again. Oh, and they also hold Par-3 challenges. A number of Nationals

Solano behind the plate, Lombardozzi playing second in Game 1

What a gorgeous day it is at Nationals Park. You'd have never known that the entire stadium nearly got washed away last night. We've got sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s today, and if you're a Nationals fan, you probably can't ask for a much better day as the home schedule wraps up. Two ballgames in nice weather with the Nats still holding out

Is Rendon's future at second base?

It's kind of weird to think that, barring a shocking late comeback, today will mark the last home game at Nationals Park this year. Seventy-nine home games are in the books. Two remain, both of which will be played today under what looks like clear skies and gorgeous weather, after yesterday's postponement following a nearly four-hour rain delay. Stephen Strasburg would have started last night's

Marlins-Nationals game postponed; split doubleheader Sunday (updated)

After a rain delay of 3 hours, 45 minutes, it's been announced that tonight's Marlins-Nationals game has been postponed due to rain. The two teams will play a split doubleheader tomorrow. The first game is scheduled to start at 1:35 p.m., with the nightcap following at 7:05 p.m. Because it's a split doubleheader, separate admission will be required for each game. The stadium will be

As the rain falls ... (start of tonight's game officially delayed)

Rain continues to fall at Nationals Park, and based on the radar that we're all looking at in the press box, there's no sign of things letting up for a while. If this was June, it'd be an easy call to bang this one tonight and reschedule the game for later in the season. But in late September, postponements are tough because of scheduling issues.

More rain for a Strasburg start

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Stephen Strasburg is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Nationals tonight. The skies are dark, it's already raining at Nats Park and the forecast is a more than a little foreboding. How foreboding? Check the weather radar and you'll discover a huge green blob stretching from slightly north of Ottawa, Ont., to south of New Orleans. Right

Hope stays alive for another day

It sure is starting to feel like playoff season, all right. The Reds and Pirates played a thrilling 10-inning ballgame last night, in which Cincinnati came from two runs down in the ninth to tie the game and then won it in extras on Joey Votto's home run. The Cardinals and Brewers played a crazy 10-inning game of their own, in which St. Louis scored

Zimmermann: "It's probably one of the better ones I've ever had up here"

The Reds just finished off a 10-inning, comeback win over the Pirates, meaning the Nationals are now five games back of both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the wild card chase with just eight games to go. The odds decrease. Jordan Zimmermann's memory doesn't really allow him to give an accurate ranking of how his stuff was tonight compared to his previous 111 big league starts.

Johnson discusses Nats' 8-0 win

It didn't take Nationals manager Davey Johnson long to get the feeling that Jordan Zimmermann had a special night ahead of him. "You could tell from the first pitch of the ballgame that Zim wasn't going to be denied," Johnson said. Zimmermann's first pitch was a 94 mph fastball that Donovan Solano fouled off, and he needed just eight more pitches, seven of which were

Nats break it open in the sixth (Zimmermann throws two-hitter in 8-0 win)

The crowd at Nationals Park might have been down for a few minutes after Jordan Zimmermann's no-hit bid was spoiled with two outs in the sixth on Donovan Solano's single to center, but the Nationals lifted their fans' spirits with a huge seven-run bottom half of the inning. They got seven hits and a walk in the sixth inning alone, batting around and quickly turning

Zimmermann dominating through four hitless frames (there goes the no-no)

Jordan Zimmermann is all kinds of locked in tonight, and he's running through a soft Marlins lineup. Zimmermann has yet to allow a hit through four innings of work. He's struck out eight. He's thrown 40 of his 54 pitches for strikes. The fastball is sitting in the mid-90s. The slider has been tight and has touched 89 mph. And the curveball has been sharp.

Strasburg cleared to start Saturday vs. Marlins

After playing catch on flat ground and doing some running this afternoon, a normal day-before-start routine, Stephen Strasburg has been cleared to start tomorrow against the Marlins. Strasburg has been scratched from scheduled starts twice in the last week due to tightness in his right forearm. The right-hander was originally scheduled to start last Friday against the Phillies, but had that start pushed back to

Zimmermann looking to tie Scherzer for wins lead

Jordan Zimmermann is seeking his 19th win of the season tonight. With a victory, the Nationals right-hander would tie the Tigers' Max Scherzer for the major league lead in wins. The Nats will face Marlins right-hander Jacob Turner, who came to Miami as part of the Anibal Sanchez trade last season. Turner is 3-7 with a 3.51 ERA this season. He allowed five runs on

Harper quietly joins an exclusive club

A number of Nationals players had kind words to say about Denard Span and his impressive last month after Span's 29-game hitting streak came to an end last night. Ian Desmond was one of them, noting that it was nice to see Span play the way he knows he can play after a rough start to the season. But Desmond added another interesting angle on

Span: "It's just an unbelievable feeling, I'll be honest"

Denard Span's 29-game hitting streak came to an end with an 0-for-4 performance tonight in a 3-2 win over the Marlins, but while Span was a little disappointed with the end result, he still was able to reflect on the last month with a smile on his face. When Span was done with an on-field MASN interview immediately after the game, he walked down the

Johnson on the argument, the win, and Span's hitting streak

Before we get to all the pieces that actually factored into tonight's 3-2 Nationals win, let's get manager Davey Johnson's reaction to Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez hitting Ian Desmond just below the left shoulder on a 3-0 fastball just after Bryce Harper had crushed a three-run homer in the first inning. Immediately after Desmond was hit, many Nats players jumped up to the top step

Harper joins 20-homer club, Knorr ejected (Nats win 3-2)

We've already had some drama here at Nationals Park tonight, and the game isn't even an inning old. The Marlins got to Gio Gonzalez for a run in the top of the first when Donovan Solano, who doubled leading off the game, came around on an Ed Lucas RBI single. But things heated up in the bottom of the first, when the Nats took the

Johnson on Saturday, Strasburg and Span

Prior to Saturday's game against the Marlins, the Nationals are going to hold a special ceremony honoring manager Davey Johnson, whose final homestand as Nats manager is winding down. There's going to be a video montage on the JumboTron and general manager Mike Rizzo will present Johnson with an award. It sounds like it'll be a nice tribute, but Johnson, who isn't too fond of

Nats lineup in opener vs. Marlins

After Stephen Strasburg was scratched from tonight's start due to some lingering right forearm tightness, Gio Gonzalez will start on full rest in the first of four games against the Marlins. The Nationals plan to follow Gonzalez with Jordan Zimmermann tomorrow night, Strasburg on Saturday and Dan Haren on Sunday in the season finale between these two teams. Gonzalez is 2-0 in two starts against

Nats acquire lefty Matthew Spann from Rays, completing DeJesus trade

The Nationals acquired left-hander Matthew Spann from the Rays today, completing the trade that sent outfielder David DeJesus to Tampa Bay for a player to be named. Spann, 22, went 4-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 19 games (four starts) for Bowling Green of the Single-A Midwest League this season. After working primarily as a starter the last two seasons, Spann was moved to the

The straw that broke the camel's back?

Over the last month, the Nationals have done well to right the ship and start running off wins. They've gotten their record back above .500 and slowly chipped away at the massive deficit they had built up behind the wild card leaders. Unfortunately, as we all know, when you build up such a massive deficit, you need to be close to perfect to overcome your

Strasburg scratched from Thursday start

Stephen Strasburg has been scratched from tomorrow's scheduled start after having trouble getting loose when throwing earlier today, manager Davey Johnson said after tonight's 5-2 loss to the Braves. Strasburg had been scratched from last Friday's start due to right forearm tightness, and the Nationals had pushed him back to Thursday, hoping that some extra time would allow him to get over that forearm discomfort.

Johnson recaps Nats' 5-2 loss

Under normal circumstances, the Nationals would be happy winning two of three in a series with the first-place Braves. These are not normal circumstances. The Nats need wins. Lots of them. And even though they took the series with Atlanta by sweeping yesterday's doubleheader, they needed a win tonight as well. They didn't get it, falling to the Braves 5-2. "It's just not enough. We

Span extends the streak, but Nats still trail (Nats lose 5-2)

When Denard Span walked from the on-deck circle to the plate leading off the seventh inning, a large portion of the 30,636 at Nationals Park tonight started cheering, trying to spur Span on as he attempted to extend his hitting streak in the late innings. The fans got even louder after Span laced a single to right-center, pushing that hitting streak to 29 games. Span

Ohlendorf on top of his game against Atlanta (a lot of drama in the middle innings)

I'm not sure anyone could have expected a game started by Ross Ohlendorf and Alex Wood to be scoreless through 4 1/3 innings. I'm also not sure that anyone could have expected Ohlendorf and Tanner Roark to have combined to throw 12 straight scoreless innings against the Braves. But that's where we are. Ohlendorf has put up five scoreless frames tonight, allowing just one baserunner,

Detwiler unlikely to return to Nats in regular season

Given how long he's been out while working back from a herniated disc in his back, it always seemed somewhat unlikely that Ross Detwiler would be able to return and pitch in major league games before the end of this season. Detwiler, who has been sidelined since July 4 due to the back injury, threw three simulated innings today at Nationals Park, and is continuing

Notes on Span's streak, plus series finale lineups

Denard Span's hitting streak has reached 28 games, and is now the longest streak in the big leagues since Dan Uggla had a hit in 33 consecutive games in 2011. Over this stretch, Span is hitting a ridiculous .378/.414/.504. He's continued his strong defensive play and even seen his production improve on the basepaths, where he's 7-for-8 in stolen base attempts. Since the start of

Roark possibly laying claim to a 2014 rotation spot

Is it too soon to start looking toward next season when the Nationals are still in the mix for a playoff spot, sitting 4 1/2 games back of the Reds with 11 to play? Maybe so. The Nats are red-hot, having now won 21 of their last 27 games, and they've, at the very least, made these final couple weeks pretty darn interesting as we

Johnson on Roark's dominance and Nats' 4-0 win

As Davey Johnson sat down for his postgame press conference after tonight's 4-0 Nationals win, a win that wrapped up a doubleheader sweep of the Braves, Johnson asked the question that most Nats fans were probably asking themselves tonight. "Well, how 'bout Tanner Roark?" Johnson said with a smile. Yeah, how 'bout him? Roark improved to 7-0 with a win tonight after throwing seven scoreless

A lead, but a missed opportunity (Nats sweep doubleheader with 4-0 win)

The Nationals hold a 1-0 lead after three innings tonight, thanks to Steve Lombardozzi's RBI single in the second, but they've already made two outs on the bases, one of which could have been easily prevented. After Tanner Roark's infield single leading off the third (which now makes the right-hander a spiffy 3-for-9 at the plate in his big league career), Denard Span shot a

Tremendous postgame quotes from Haren (plus game two lineups)

Dan Haren got robbed of a win today when the Braves came back to take a late lead in the first game of today's doubleheader. But the veteran right-hander couldn't seem to care much less about that. Given all that happened in the D.C. community yesterday with the tragic shooting at the Navy Yard, just blocks from Nats Park, Haren was more concerned with boosting

Johnson discusses Nats' walk-off 6-5 win

The Nationals were three outs away from a brutal loss at the hands of the Braves, a defeat that would've delivered a big hit to their already-slim playoff hopes. They would've fallen to 5 1/2 games back in the wild card race. They would've given the Braves a chance to clinch the NL East title tonight with another win. They would've dropped to 4-13 this

Clippard surrenders lead in eighth on Gattis homer (Nats win 6-5)

The Nationals held a 1-0 lead three batters into their half of the first inning. They had a 3-0 lead after a full inning of play, and looked poised to knock Braves starter Mike Minor from the game early and pile on the runs. The Nats now trail 4-3 midway through the eighth, largely due to Tyler Clippard surrendering a two-run homer to Evan Gattis

Minor issues for the Braves, Span keeps streaking (Haren goes six strong)

Boy, did Mike Minor ever have some trouble in the first inning. The Braves starter faced eight hitters in the first. He walked three, allowed two hits and threw a wild pitch. The left-hander ended up surrendering three runs, and needed 39 pitches to finally get out of the first inning. Things were looking so shaky there for a little while that Braves manager Fredi

Strasburg set to start Thursday, plus Ramos, Desmond updates

Despite all that was going on around the Navy Yard area yesterday, a handful of players still made their way to Nationals Park to get in some work and prepare for the possibility of a game. Stephen Strasburg was one of them. Strasburg threw his scheduled bullpen session yesterday, and according to manager Davey Johnson, the Nationals' ace right-hander didn't feel any issues in his

Johnson on returning to baseball after tragedy: "It keeps us sane"

The Nationals will get back to work today, playing two crucial games against the Braves in a split doubleheader, but they'll do so with yesterday's tragic shooting at the nearby Washington Navy Yard still on their minds. The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr., came through the Nationals clubhouse this morning, passing out U.S. Navy caps to players

Braves-Nationals lineups for day portion of split doubleheader

The lineups have been posted for Game 1 of today's split doubleheader between the Nationals and Braves. Nats righty Dan Haren faces Braves lefty Mike Minor in the 1:05 p.m. game, which will air on MASN HD. The Braves can clinch the National League East title with sweep of today's doubleheader, while the Nats are hoping they can cut into the five games between them

Let's play two

While the Nationals postponed last night's game in the wake of the mass shooting at the Navy Yard just blocks from Nationals Park, the rest of the baseball world did play on yesterday. And the Nats wake up a half-game farther back in the National League wild card chase than they were this time yesterday. The Reds beat the Astros last night, pushing Cincinnati five

Monday's Braves-Nats game postponed; split doubleheader Tuesday (updated)

In the wake of this morning's shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., just blocks from Nationals Park, the Nationals have announced that tonight's game against the Braves has been postponed. It will be replayed tomorrow as part of a split doubleheader, with games at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Nats released a statement, which reads as follows: "All of us here in

Navy Yard shooting could affect Braves-Nats game tonight (updated twice)

Nationals players have been told to stay away from Nationals Park for the time being after today's tragic shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., and we're awaiting word on how this situation might affect tonight's game between the Nats and Braves. According to media reports, two shooters "are down" after a massive police search of the Navy Yard, where at least 10 people

Here come the Braves

The Nationals took full advantage of their soft schedule the last few weeks, going 14-5 during their 19-game stretch against the Marlins, Mets and Phillies. It was a crucial run of wins, and combined with a few slip-ups from the Reds recently, it's gotten the Nats back on the fringe of the wild card race. Yesterday's results - an 11-2 Nats beatdown of the Phillies

Ramos discusses his hot streak and his heavy workload

Wilson Ramos is on a tear right now, and while he might be pretty tired after catching 23 straight games - the most of any catcher in the majors this season - he has no interest in resting right now. Ramos has five homers and 15 RBIs in his last eight games, and with the Braves coming in to town, the Nationals will need him

Johnson on Ramos' monster game and Nats' win

As we were conducting interviews in the Nationals' clubhouse after today's 11-2 Nats win, Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez robbed Reds right fielder Jay Bruce of a home run to keep their game tied in the top of the ninth. The Nats' clubhouse exploded with excitement. Just minutes later, former Nats left-hander Zach Duke - now with the Reds - served up a walk-off homer

Five-hit fourth puts Nats on top (Nats win 11-2)

The Nationals had struck a handful of pitches well off Tyler Cloyd through the first three innings, but had very little to show for it. That changed in the fourth. The Nats put together five hits in a six-batter span in the fourth inning, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead. For the second time in two at-bats today, Bryce Harper started an inning

Bernadina leading off for Phillies, Zimmermann on mound in finale

Roger Bernadina will be leading off for the Phillies against his former team. Steve Lombardozzi will get the start for the Nationals at second base and bat eighth. Wilson Ramos will start his 23rd straight game behind the plate, the most for any catcher in the majors this season. For the Nationals: CF Denard Span 3B Ryan Zimmerman RF Jayson Werth LF Bryce Harper SS

At this point, every miscue looms large (plus shameless plug)

How big a hit did the Nationals' playoff hopes take yesterday with their loss to the Phillies coupled with the Reds and Pirates both winning? Their odds of reaching the postseason were cut from 5.5 percent entering yesterday's action to 1.5 percent as of this morning, per BaseballProspectus.com. It's too bad that the Nats are in this position in the first place, where one day

Johnson discusses Nats' 5-4 loss

At this point in the season, with the number of remaining games shrinking and the Nationals trying to scrap their way back into the playoff picture, Davey Johnson's bunch can't really afford to be losing ballgames. The Nats already knew coming into tonight's game against the Phillies that the Reds had won today, and a loss here at Nats Park would increase their deficit in

Gonzalez has a slip-up in the fifth (Nats lose 5-4)

After four innings of scoreless ball tonight, Gio Gonzalez had worked 13 consecutive innings without allowing a run. Then came the fifth inning. The scoreless streak is now over, and the Nationals trail 4-1. Gonzalez allowed four runs on four hits in the fifth, with John Mayberry's solo shot to left tying the game 1-1 and Carlos Ruiz's bases-clearing, two-out double to right bringing in

The latest Strasburg update; Detwiler still on track to return this season

After taking yesterday and today off from throwing due to tightness in his right forearm, Stephen Strasburg is on track to play catch tomorrow at Nationals Park. Assuming all goes well during that session, Strasburg will throw a bullpen session Monday and then be in line to start Thursday, Sept. 19 against the Marlins. Strasburg was scratched from yesterday's scheduled start against the Phillies after

Moore starts at first vs. Hamels

With the Nationals facing Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels tonight, Adam LaRoche will get the night off and Tyler Moore will start for the Nats at first base in the second game of this three-game set. LaRoche actually has pretty good numbers in his career against Hamels (.294 with four homers in 34 at-bats), but manager Davey Johnson will give the right-handed-hitting Moore the start at

Ohlendorf continues to prove his value to Nats

The Nationals' postseason odds more than doubled with yesterday's results, jumping from 2.7 percent to 5.5 percent, according to both BaseballProspectus.com and CoolStandings.com. By no means is overcoming a 4 1/2-game deficit with 15 games remaining going to be easy. The Nats need to stay insanely hot and hope the Reds continue to flounder over the next two weeks. But 4 1/2 with 15 to

Harper and Zimmerman on the increasing playoff odds

Going into Monday night's game, the Nationals were eight games back of the Reds in the race for the final National League wild card spot. In just five days' time, the wild card deficit has been trimmed nearly in half. Five straight Nats wins combined with three Cincinnati losses in a five-day span has the Nationals 4 1/2 games out (four in the loss column)

Johnson discusses Nats' seventh straight win

The Reds just lost to the Brewers, meaning the Nationals are now 4 1/2 games back of the final National League wild card spot (four back in the loss column) with 15 games left. This is getting a bit more interesting. After tonight's 6-1 Nationals win over the Phillies, manager Davey Johnson was asked if he'd taken a peek out at the Reds score on

Harper shows off his arm, Span extends his streak (Nats win 6-1)

Bryce Harper has two outfield assists in a two-inning span tonight, both on tremendous bullet throws in to second base, both of which wiped the leadoff hitter from the basepaths. In the fifth, Harper went into a slide to cut off a Freddy Galvis base hit before it got into the left field corner, then hopped to his feet and threw out Galvis at second.

Ramos keeps raking (Ohlendorf does his job, Nats increase lead)

The list of Nationals players currently riding hot streaks - and it's a lengthy list - can be expanded to include Wilson Ramos. Ramos smoked a solo homer to left leading off the bottom of the second inning tonight, giving the Nats a 2-1 lead over the Phillies and giving Ramos four homers in his last six games. The Nationals catcher got a 1-0 cutter

Strasburg scratched due to forearm tightness, expected to start Thursday

Stephen Strasburg has been scratched from tonight's scheduled start against the Phillies due to right forearm tightness, but the Nationals don't think the injury is anything serious. Strasburg is expected to make his next start this Thursday, Sept. 19. Reporters were surprised when we made our way into the Nationals clubhouse this afternoon only to see that Ross Ohlendorf was listed as tonight's scheduled starter.

Strasburg scratched, Ohlendorf starting (updated)

If you're headed to Nationals Park and you're excited about seeing Stephen Strasburg start for the Nationals in the opener of a three-game series against the Phillies, you're going to be disappointed. The Nationals have scratched Strasburg from tonight's start. No reason was given, but he's not on the lineup posted in the clubhouse. Instead, right-hander Ross Ohlendorf is listed as tonight's starting pitcher. We'll

What lies ahead

Believe it or not, the Nationals will open their last homestand of the 2013 regular season tonight. The final stretch is here, all right. Sixteen games are all that remain on the Nationals' schedule. Ten of those 16 are at home, then the Nats will head on the road for their final six contests of the season. Over the last few weeks, the Nats have

Nats win 7-2, finish off four-game sweep of Mets

Tanner Roark worked six strong innings to improve to 6-0 on the season and the Nationals crushed four more homers en route to a 7-2 win. The victory locks up a four-game sweep of the Mets, in which the Nats outscored their division rivals 25-5. The Nats will close their season series with the Mets with a 12-7 record. They hit 13 home runs in

Ryan Zimmerman keeps destroying baseballs (Roark done after six strong)

This is starting to get ridiculous. Ryan Zimmerman crushed a first-pitch homer off Aaron Harang with one out in the top of the first inning this afternoon, giving him eight homers in his last 10 games, and giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Eight of Zimmerman's last 10 hits have left the yard, which is just insane. More than a third of his 23 homers

Roark back to the hill in series finale vs. Mets

Tanner Roark's first major league start couldn't have gone much better. Roark threw six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, walking none and striking out four in a win over the Marlins. The rookie right-hander improved to 5-0 with that win, and his ERA dropped to a sparkling 0.94. Today, Roark gets the ball again in the finale of the Nationals' four-game series with the

On Zimmerman's power surge and Johnson's use of his southpaws

Here's how locked-in Ryan Zimmerman is lately, from a power perspective: Over Zimmerman's first 463 at-bats of the season, he hit 15 home runs, an average of 30.8 at-bats per homer. Over Zimmerman's last 39 at-bats, Zimmerman has hit seven home runs, an average of 5.6 at-bats per longball. If Zimmerman could keep this pace up over the course of a full season (550 at-bats),

Nats win 3-0, extend winning streak to five games

Dan Haren spun a gem, and the bats provided enough pop to allow the Nationals to pick up their fifth straight win. Haren threw six scoreless innings tonight, allowing just a hit and a walk and striking out eight, and Ryan Zimmerman's solo homer and Anthony Rendon's two-run double were enough to give the Nats a 3-0 win over the Mets. The victory makes Haren

Much better stuff from Haren (Rendon provides some insurance)

Prior to tonight, the last two times Dan Haren took the mound, his night was over before he could sniff the fourth inning. Haren allowed nine runs over 2 2/3 innings in a loss to the Mets on Aug. 31, then surrendered five runs over three innings in a loss to the Marlins on Sept. 6. Tonight, Haren has allowed just one baserunner through his

Harper returns, hitting cleanup

After missing the last four games with left hip inflammation, Bryce Harper is back in the Nationals lineup today, playing left field and hitting cleanup. Harper went back to D.C. over the weekend to get checked out by Nationals medical director Dr. Wiemi Douoguih. He was told to sit out Monday and Tuesday's games, but took batting practice at Citi Field yesterday and felt well

Finally, it's all clicking

Jordan Zimmermann notched his 17th win last night, most in the National League. Rafael Soriano recorded his 40th save, second-most in the NL. Jayson Werth leads the league in OPS and slugging percentage, and is one percentage point behind Chris Johnson for the league lead in batting average. Denard Span has a 21-game hitting streak and has worked his average up to .281. Wilson Ramos

Werth and LaRoche having a party (Nats win 6-3)

Prior to last season, the Mets brought in the fence in left and left-center field at Citi Field in order to make the park a bit smaller, and installed what they call the Party City Deck between the new fencing and the old wall that they had out there. It's an area for fans to hang out during the game and get a unique view

Lombardozzi, Moore in Nats lineup against Gee

As teammates, good friends and roommates, Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore are around each other a lot. That's why, as a joke, an unknown member of the Nationals took Moore's jersey, hat and baseball gloves during the last homestand and put them in Lombardozzi's locker. When Moore walked into the Nats clubhouse and made his way toward his locker, he noticed his stuff was gone.

Nationals release 2014 schedule

The Nationals will open their 2014 season with 15 straight games against division opponents, the first three of which will be in New York against the Mets. After kicking off the season on the road, the Nats will return for their home opener on Friday, April 4, to be played against the Braves. The Nats have an 11-game homestand - their longest of the season

Gio Gonzalez's interesting 2013 campaign

It's been a bit of a strange season for Gio Gonzalez. When Gonzalez has been good, he's been really, really good. See: last night's one-hit shutout of the Mets in a 9-0 Nationals win. That was dominance, and it sure looked for a while there like Gonzalez had a legitimate shot at a no-hitter the way he was throwing. But on the rare occasion when

Gonzalez delivers one-hit shutout in 9-0 Nats win (updated)

The Nationals' bats have made all the big noise tonight. But Gio Gonzalez quietly hasn't allowed a hit through six innings. Gonzalez has struck out seven and retired 17 straight as we go to the seventh. The only Mets hitter to reach base tonight was Daniel Murphy, who got on via a one-out walk in the first. Gonzalez has thrown 73 pitches, 52 for strikes.

Span and Zimmerman stay hot (five innings, five homers, no Mets hits)

Denard Span extended his hitting streak to 20 games in style. Then Ryan Zimmerman kept his hot streak going with some flash, as well. Span and Zimmerman hit back-to-back homers to open tonight's game, giving the Nationals, and starter Gio Gonzalez, an early 2-0 lead. Span's shot was a laser to right field that cleared the wall and skipped up into the netting above the

Moore in left with Harper still out (with Mets lineup)

With Bryce Harper still out of the Nationals' lineup with a hip injury, Tyler Moore will play left field tonight in the opener of the Nats' four-game series against the Mets. Gio Gonzalez will oppose Mets right-hander Carlos Torres, who the Nats got to for eight earned runs in just three innings in a 14-1 win back on July 28. For the Nats CF Denard

A closer look at Roark's dominant first month in the majors

I was out of town over the weekend, so I missed catching Tanner Roark's first major league start live, but I did cue it up on the DVR once I got home. What I saw was another really strong outing from an impressive right-hander getting by not just on pure stuff, but on location and aggression. Roark's six scoreless innings on Saturday add just the

Zimmerman heating up as the weather cools down

The Reds keep on winning, and the Nationals' incredibly slim playoff chances keep getting slimmer. Cincinnati finished off a three-game sweep of the Dodgers last night, marking the Reds' sixth win in their last seven games. The Nats might have gone 4-2 so far on their road trip, but given their current situation, that's pretty much two losses too many. Twenty games remain on the

Strasburg departs with lead, bullpen strong in 6-4 victory

Well, that lead didn't last long. Staked to a 1-0 advantage by a Wilson Ramos homer in the second inning, Young, Chris:">Stephen Strasburg twice balked home runs in a three-run bottom of the fame. The result: The Nats' lead is gone and the Marlins are up 3-1. Marlins Park hasn't exactly been kind to Strasburg - coming into the game, he was 1-2 with an

Strasburg takes hill for Nationals-Marlins finale (Ramos goes deep)

The Nationals send Stephen Strasburg to the hill this afternoon in Miami to try and take the series from the Marlins. With Bryce Harper is back in D.C. getting his sore hip looked at, the lineup has a slightly different feel. The Nationals still hope Harper will rejoin them Monday when they open a four-game series against the Mets at Citi Field. For the Nationals:

Roark, Zimmerman help Nats maul Marlins (Harper aggravates hip)

Tanner Roark had a 2-0 lead before he even took the mound Saturday night and a 5-0 lead before the game was three innings old. That had to ease any of the rookie pitcher's nerves as he made his first major league start following nine impressive relief appearances with the Nationals. Roark looked about as in control as he possibly could, retiring his first nine

Roark leaves with Fish flopping (Nats win 9-2)

Tanner Roark's first major league start will go down as one to remember. The rookie right-hander tossed six scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out four while walking none tonight at Marlins Park. With that, he lowered his ERA from 1.19 to 0.94. Is that good? Roark departs after 71 pitches with the Nationals leading 7-0. Ross Ohlendorf has taken over to start the

Zimmerman blasts Nats to early lead (and hits another, Roark rolling)

One night after being clobbered 7-0 by the Marlins, the Nationals are off to a much better start at Marlins Park. Denard Span opened the game with a leadoff single, extending his career-long hitting streak to 18 games, during which he is batting .414 (29-for-70). Ryan Zimmerman then stepped to the plate and mashed a two-run homer to center field, his 18th of the year.

A reliever trying to get back on track

The Cardinals didn't help the Nationals out any last night, falling to the Reds to push the Nats a full seven games back of Cincinnati in the wild card chase. Twenty-three games to go with a seven-game deficit to overcome. Have at it, Nats. See what you can do. Over the last couple months, the Nats have seen their relief corps - a group that

Nats claim Mauro Gomez off waivers

The Nationals have claimed corner infielder Mauro Gomez off waivers from the Blue Jays, giving them another bench option for next season. The 28-year-old Gomez hit .249 with 29 home runs, 21 doubles, 73 RBI and a .843 OPS in 110 games for Triple-A Buffalo this season. He was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Gomez's 29 homers tied current Nationals shortstop

After a rocky start in D.C., Span feeling like himself again

We're getting to that time of year where scoreboard watching becomes a pretty big part of the nightly routine for major league teams still in playoff contention. Teams like the Nationals can talk all they want about how they're just focused on taking care of their own business. They can say that their concern is just on each game that they play, and that they

Hearing from the crucial parties in the two defensive gems

PHILADELPHIA - There were jokes all around in the Nationals' clubhouse tonight as players packed up their things for a flight to Miami and monitored the Reds-Cardinals extra-inning game on multiple clubhouse TVs. The bulk of the chatter was about two defensive gems - the Steve Lombardozzi/Jordan Zimmermann spin-and-scoop at first base to end the seventh inning and keep the game tied, and the Jhonatan

Johnson discusses Nats' 3-2 win

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base in tonight's 3-2 win over the Phillies. Their offense didn't win them this game. Their defense did. The Nats made a couple huge defensive plays in the late innings tonight, keeping the Phillies off the scoreboard and ensuring their three runs put up on Philadelphia pitching would be

More sloppy ball here in Philly (Nats win 3-2)

PHILADELPHIA - The hope, after last night's slopfest, was that the Nationals and Phillies had gotten all the ugly baseball out of their systems and would put together a clean, smooth ballgame tonight. That hasn't been the case through the first two innings of play. The Phillies lead 2-1 going to the third, in a game in which Roy Halladay has already walked four and

Harper's hip "barking," Roark to move into Nats' rotation

PHILADELPHIA - Bryce Harper has played through some hip soreness in each of the first two games of this three-game set with the Phillies, but Harper isn't in the Nationals' lineup tonight for the finale. Manager Davey Johnson has opted to give Harper the day off to rest his ailing hip, this after Harper admitted to his skipper today that the hip is still "barking."

Harper out of Nats lineup, Brown in left field (with Phillies lineup)

Bryce Harper is getting a day off, likely to rest his ailing left hip. Corey Brown, who homered last night, will bat seventh and get the start in left field. Steve Lombardozzi will bat eighth and play second base, giving Anthony Rendon the night off. For the Nationals: CF Denard Span 3B Ryan Zimmerman RF Jayson Werth 1B Adam LaRoche SS Ian Desmond C Wilson

More on Ramos, more on Brown

PHILADELPHIA - Wilson Ramos told reporters after last night's 9-6 win over the Phillies that he was taken out of the game in the seventh inning for a pinch-runner shortly after manager Davey Johnson saw him stretching out a cramp behind his right knee. After leaving the game, Ramos went in to get treatment on the area around his surgically repaired knee, leading to a

Hearing from Gonzalez, Ramos, Brown after 9-6 win

PHILADELPHIA - Like his manager, left-hander Gio Gonzalez realizes that tonight's 9-6 Nationals win wasn't too pretty. But that doesn't bother him too much. "A win doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to be a win," Gonzalez said. "At the end of the day, it's just one of the things. We turn the page, move forward and hopefully tomorrow will be a different

Davey Johnson: "That's not the way you win pennants, I'll tell you that"

PHILADELPHIA - A win is a win is a win. This win was just not one you'll see replayed on MASN's "Nationals Classics" or used as part of a defensive drills tutorial anytime soon. The Nationals beat the Phillies 9-6 tonight at Citizens Bank Park in a game that saw the two teams combine to throw 347 pitches, just 54 percent of which were strikes.

A complete slopfest (Nats win 9-6)

PHILADELPHIA - We're now in game 138 on the Nationals schedule this season. This could qualify as the sloppiest game we've seen all year. Through six innings, we saw four errors, four wild pitches, a balk, a hit-batter and 11 walks surrendered. The Nats held a 7-2 lead. Then they led 7-5. Gio Gonzalez allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings, only one of which

Ramos delivers a longball, Span extends a streak (more Phillies miscues)

PHILADELPHIA - If Wilson Ramos is worn out from having started 12 straight games, he sure isn't showing it. Ramos smoked a three-run homer to deep right-center field in the second inning, giving the Nationals a 3-0 lead over the Phillies. It was a bomb from Ramos, who took a 1-0 fastball from Phillies righty Ethan Martin and drove it over the scoreboard in right-center,

Walters on his first big league call-up: "This is an amazing opportunity I have"

PHILADELPHIA - Of the five guys the Nationals called up from Triple-A Syracuse today, four have been here before. Outfielders Jeff Kobernus, Corey Brown and Eury Perez, and left-hander Xavier Cedeno have seen a major league clubhouse in the past, donned a Nationals jersey and stepped foot on a big league field. Up until today, Zach Walters had not. After getting his first big league

The latest on Harper's hip injury, Espinosa not getting a call-up

PHILADELPHIA - Last night, Davey Johnson expressed some frustration that he hadn't been informed about Bryce Harper's hip injury, a problem that left Harper limping and clearly a little gimpy after some swings last night. Johnson still hadn't been fully brought up to speed on Harper's status by the time he met with reporters around 5 p.m. today. "I mean, to this day, even now,

Nats call up Walters, Brown, Kobernus, Perez and Cedeno

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals made their second round of September call-ups Tuesday, bringing up shortstop Zach Walters, outfielder Corey Brown, utility man Jeff Kobernus, outfielder Eury Perez and left-hander Xavier Cedeno. All five are on the lineup card and are in the clubhouse. Walters, 23, will be making his first appearance in the big leagues. He batted .253 with 29 homers and 77 RBIs in

Harper in Nats lineup

PHILADELPHIA - Bryce Harper remains in the Nationals' lineup despite being bothered by what we learned last night is a hip injury. Harper said that he's fine and wants to continue playing through the ailment, and manager Davey Johnson will allow him to do so. Gio Gonzalez (8-6, 3.56 ERA) takes the ball for the Nats tonight, with right-hander Ethan Martin (2-3, 6.39 ERA) going

Mr. Reliable has a rare misstep

PHILADELPHIA - For the last handful of weeks, Nationals manager Davey Johnson has targeted the 90-win mark as what he feels his team will have to reach in order to have a realistic shot at the postseason. With last night's loss, the Nationals now need to go 21-4 to get to 90 wins. That's an .840 winnings percentage, or a 136-win pace. Not looking too

Clippard, Harper and Strasburg on Nats' big 3-2 loss

PHILADELPHIA - Tyler Clippard might have given up two run-scoring hits in the eighth inning that turned a 2-1 Nationals lead into a 3-2 Phillies advantage, but it wasn't either of those base knocks that he was really kicking himself over after the game. It was the two-out walk to the light-hitting Cesar Hernandez that got it all started. Hernandez came into the at-bat hitting

Harper dealing with hip injury, Johnson discusses Nats' 3-2 loss

PHILADELPHIA - After Sunday night's win over the Mets, Bryce Harper acknowledged that he wasn't 100 percent healthy, although he declined to specify what exactly was ailing him. Turns out, it's Harper's hip. Harper limped his way through four plate appearances in tonight's 3-2 loss, going 1-for-3 with a walk, but there were a handful of times where it was clear that Harper was in

Quite a pitchers' duel here in Philly (Nats lose 3-2)

PHILADELPHIA - Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels are locked in a pitchers' duel through six innings. Each All-Star has allowed just one run on two hits. Strasburg has struck out 10 and allowed just three balls out of the infield. Hamels has allowed just two baserunners since the first inning. The difference in this 1-1 game is that Strasburg is going to need to exit

A strong start from Strasburg (but a tie game)

PHILADELPHIA - Stephen Strasburg couldn't have asked for a much better start than the one he's gotten through three innings. Strasburg has held the Phillies hitless thus far, has struck out six, and has yet to allow a ball out of the infield. The lone blemish on his line so far is a two-out walk to Chase Utley in the first. Other than that, it's

Five more call-ups coming tomorrow; Johnson explains tonight's lineup decisions

PHILADELPHIA - Expect five more minor leaguers to get called up to join the Nationals tomorrow. The Nats plan to promote left-handed pitcher Xavier Cedeno and four position players tomorrow, rounding out their September call-ups. Cedeno and the bulk of the position players are already on the 40-man roster, so the Nats won't need to do much maneuvering there. Even if that was necessary, they

Bernadina on his release and his time with Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - Prior to his release exactly two weeks ago today, Roger Bernadina was the longest-tenured member of the Nationals organization. Tonight, he'll face off against his former team for the first time, wearing the colors of a hated division rival. After having a career season last year, hitting .291/.372/.405 in 261 plate appearances with the Nats, Bernadina's production dropped off mightily this season. He

Nats face Bernadina in opener of three-game set with Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals will cross paths with Roger Bernadina tonight for the first time since Bernadina was released Aug. 19 by the only major league organization he'd ever known. After his release, Bernadina pulled a John Lannan and signed with the Phillies, choosing to stay in the National League East and play in a park with which he has a good bit of familiarity.

Jordan wraps up 2013 stint with Nats

For much of the last two-plus weeks, Taylor Jordan's actual baseball responsibilities have been pretty limited. Since being shut down for the season, partially due to a back strain that landed him on the disabled list and mostly due to Jordan reaching his team-imposed innings limit, the rookie right-hander has played catch every day, and, well, that's about it. There isn't a heck of a

Hope is still alive

It's crazy how quickly things can shift this time of year. Twenty-four hours ago, the Nationals were waking up 7 1/2 games back of the Reds in the wild card chase and looking at a possible sweep at the hands of the lowly depleted Mets. They'd just been smoked 11-3 a night before, marking their second straight defeat, dropping them back to one game over

Johnson discusses Harper's bunt, Nats' wild 6-5 win

There might not have been a play more crucial to the outcome of today's 6-5 Nationals win than Bryce Harper's sac bunt in the bottom of the eighth that pushed the tying runs into scoring position with one out. There might not have been a more controversial play, either. Those that are anti-bunt would certainly have issue with Harper - arguably the Nats' best hitter

A much-needed late comeback (Nats win 6-5)

Trailing 5-2 going to the bottom of the seventh, the Nationals were nine offensive outs from a sweep at the hands of the Mets. They now lead 6-5 as we go to the ninth. A Wilson Ramos RBI single in the seventh cut the Mets' lead to two, and then the Nats exploded for three runs in the eighth, with Jayson Werth's double to the

Ohlendorf scuffling out of the gates (the deficit increases)

The Reds lost in Colorado today, so if the Nationals can pick up a win tonight, they can get back to 6 1/2 games behind Cincinnati in the wild card chase. They're certainly not off to a good start. The Nats trail 2-0 after a half inning thanks to a shaky start by Ross Ohlendorf. The veteran right-hander allowed back-to-back doubles to Eric Young and

Krol, Davis, Leon discuss their return to the majors

None of the Nationals' first three September call-ups are new faces. We've seen left-hander Ian Krol, right-hander Erik Davis and catcher Sandy Leon up with the Nats before. That doesn't mean those three guys aren't thrilled to be back in the big leagues. Krol was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse just 11 days ago after a rough stretch with the Nats, but he quickly finds himself

Moore playing first, Hairston in left

With the Mets starting left-hander Jon Niese, Nationals manager Davey Johnson is going with a right-handed heavy lineup. Tyler Moore will play first base and Scott Hairston will play left field. For the Nationals: CF Bryce Harper 2B Anthony Rendon 3B Ryan Zimmerman RF Jayson Werth SS Ian Desmond C Wilson Ramos 1B Tyler Moore LF Scott Hairston RHP Ross Ohlendorf

Davis, Krol, Leon part of Nats' first wave of call-ups

The Nationals' first wave of September call-ups includes one right-handed pitcher, one left-handed pitcher and one catcher. Righty Erik Davis and lefty Ian Krol have been recalled from Triple-A Syracuse, and catcher Sandy Leon has been called up from Double-A Harrisburg. This will be Davis' second stint with the Nationals this season. He posted a 6.23 ERA in five June appearances at the big league

Two losses do some major damage

What's two losses in the grand scheme of a baseball season? When you play 162 games, two losses shouldn't really mean all that much until the final week or so of the season, right? The Nationals dropped two straight to the Mets the last two days, but they still have 27 games left on their schedule. Yeah, yesterday's loss to the Mets combined with the

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