Looking for some separation

The Braves keep on losing.

Another loss last night, to Felix Hernandez and the Mariners, marked Atlanta's seventh straight defeat and their 12th in their last 16 games.

Fredi Gonzalez's team is giving the Nationals a major window here, a big-time chance to open up their National League East lead.

And to this point, the Nats have been unable to truly capitalize on it.

Yeah, the Nats have a three-game lead in the division, which isn't anything to scoff at. It's the widest margin between any first- and second-place team in the National League.

werth-swinging-head-down-sidebar.jpgBut the Nats, who have now gone 9-9 since the All-Star break, have, to this point, missed a chance to really add distance between themselves and Atlanta.

"I think the distance will come in time," Jayson Werth said after last night's loss to the Mets. "I feel like that we're going to go on a run here at some point, too. I like where we're at. I like the way we're playing night in and night out. We've been pitching good. Defense has been good. Hitting's been good for the most part. Last couple of nights we haven't been able to get a big hit. All in all, I feel like we're in a good spot."

Over the 18 games since the break, the Nats are averaging 4.16 runs per game, exactly at their season average. In their last 11 games, in which they're 4-7, they're scoring 3.45 runs per game.

The offense has been up and down over the course of the season, and that's been the case of late, as well.

How aware are the Nats of what's going on with Atlanta right now? According to Werth, very aware. But they know that it's on them to take care of their own business, regardless of what happens with the Braves.

"We're pretty much aware of everything," Werth said. "We know what's going on around here. I feel like we're in control of our game and where we're at in the season. I feel like at some point we're going to go on a roll and rattle off a bunch of games.

"We've got some division games coming up. August, September is really the time to go on a roll if you're going to do it. So I feel like we're poised to finish this thing off. But we've got to keep playing good."

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