Ross shows no rust after layoff, carves up Cardinals

Ross shows no rust after layoff, carves up Cardinals
ST. LOUIS - He had thrown a grand total of two innings in the last 15 days. He hadn't pitched at all in 10 days. And he was facing one of the toughest lineups in baseball. Potential recipe for disaster? Not for Joe Ross, who hadn't been fazed by any situation he'd faced so far in the major leagues and wasn't about to start now. "Hey, man, there's nothing finer than a young pitcher that gets confidence and knows that he belongs here," Dusty Baker said. "And he certainly has confidence....
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Nats clinch series with 6-1 win in St. Louis

Nats clinch series with 6-1 win in St. Louis
ST. LOUIS - The Nationals have been coming to this version of Busch Stadium for a decade now, and there may be no ballpark in America that has been less welcoming to the club from Washington than this one. That storyline may finally be changing. With a 6-1 win over the Cardinals this afternoon, the Nationals have now won two in a row and clinched their first series victory in St. Louis since 2007. And they've made it look relatively easy so far this weekend. Their 5-4 win Friday night was a...
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Lineup busts out early vs. Garcia (Nats win 6-1)

Lineup busts out early vs. Garcia (Nats win 6-1)
ST. LOUIS - Dusty Baker faced Jaime Garcia countless times while managing the Reds, offering him plenty of opportunity to figure out how best to beat the Cardinals left-hander. "This guy knows how to pitch," Baker said this morning before his Nationals faced Garcia at Busch Stadium. "You've got to get to him early." Is a four-run top of the first early enough for you, Dusty? The Nationals pounced on Garcia this afternoon, scoring four times before the Cardinals ever had a chance to bat....
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Baker on Ross, the bullpen and Murphy's defense

Baker on Ross, the bullpen and Murphy's defense
ST. LOUIS - The skies have cleared, the field has been prepped and the starting pitchers have made their way to the bullpens to begin warming up. So it looks like we'll have baseball on time this afternoon. They'll just have to hope they get the full game in before the next wave of rain strikes sometime later. Could be a close call. It's not an ideal scenario for Joe Ross to return to the mound after a 10-day layoff, but the Nationals don't have much choice in the matter. Ross, who was...
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Game 23 lineups: Nats at Cardinals

Game 23 lineups: Nats at Cardinals
ST. LOUIS - It's been raining steadily here since late last night, and more is expected later today. But there does appear to be a potential window of opportunity for the Nationals and Cardinals to play the second game of their weekend series, in between the two cycles of precipitation. We'll see. If and when they do play, Joe Ross will be on the mound for the first time in 10 days, his last start having been cut short after only two innings due to a blister on his right middle finger. Rather...
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Strasburg dominates late to improve to 4-0 for first time

Strasburg dominates late to improve to 4-0 for first time
ST. LOUIS - Take a snapshot of Stephen Strasburg's first trip through the Cardinals lineup last night and you find a whole lot of hard-hit balls, four of them landing for hits, leading to a pair of runs. Take a snapshot of Strasburg's second trip through that lineup and you find better results, though still a couple of hits including his third double surrendered in only three innings. Now take a snapshot of Strasburg's third trip through the very same lineup and you find utter domination:...
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Taylor, Espinosa lead Nationals out of scoring funk

Taylor, Espinosa lead Nationals out of scoring funk
ST. LOUIS - Michael A. Taylor insisted he had no idea how many innings the Nationals had gone without scoring, but he - like everyone else on the roster - knew it had been awhile. So when he was presented with an opportunity to do something about it, Taylor put an end to that streak and set the Nationals on their way to a 5-4 victory over the Cardinals in the opener of a 10-game trip through the Midwest that should serve as a test of this team's true talent level. "It's definitely nice,"...
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Nats open tough road trip with 5-4 victory in St. Louis

Nats open tough road trip with 5-4 victory in St. Louis
ST. LOUIS - The Nationals picked a good time to start hitting again. And Stephen Strasburg picked a good time to mow down one of baseball's tougher lineups. Behind a four-run explosion in the top of the fourth and seven strong innings from Strasburg, the Nats opened their toughest road trip of the season on a positive note. They pulled off a 5-4 victory over the Cardinals, though it included some tense moments late once they turned to their bullpen to finish what Strasburg started. Riding a...
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Taylor homers, Cards strike back vs. Strasburg (Nats win 5-4)

Taylor homers, Cards strike back vs. Strasburg (Nats win 5-4)
ST. LOUIS - What better way for a Nationals lineup struggling to score runs to open a 10-game road trip than with a home run from the very first batter to step to the plate on this daunting swing through the Midwest? If only the rest of the lineup was able to follow Michael A. Taylor's lead with some more production. Taylor's opposite-field homer on the third pitch of tonight's game set a positive tone for a Nationals club that sorely needed one. His solo shot into the right field bullpen...
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Harper disappointed in Gordon but doesn't want batting title

Harper disappointed in Gordon but doesn't want batting title
ST. LOUIS - Bryce Harper said Dee Gordon's 80-game suspension after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs is "definitely a disappointment," but the Nationals star insisted he shouldn't now be considered the reining NL batting champ because of Gordon's actions. Harper lost the batting title to Gordon on the final day of the 2015 season, ultimately falling short by three percentage points. He blames his own struggles down the stretch - he hit .162 over his final 11 games, causing...
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Game 22 lineups: Nats at Cardinals

Game 22 lineups: Nats at Cardinals
ST. LOUIS - Hello from the Gateway City, where the biggest event in town this weekend isn't the Nationals-Cardinals series but the FIRST Championship, a national robotics competition that has left the downtown area overrun with thousands of teenagers who are infinitely smarter than you or I will ever be. While these kids are creating artificially intelligent robots, we're sitting in a ballpark obsessing over the Nats' inability to score a run. Talk about a blow to the ego... But anyway,...
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Thursday morning Q&A from D.C.

Thursday morning Q&A from D.C.
Since I'll be in the air on the way to St. Louis tomorrow morning, and since I won't be at today's game at Nationals Park (Byron Kerr is your man on the scene for the series finale against the Phillies), I figure we'd bump up this week's Q&A by a day. The week started off with one of the craziest victories in Nationals history: their dramatic, 16-inning win over the Twins to sweep that series. Since then, they've dropped two straight to Philadelphia and now have to win this afternoon...
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Despite struggles, Baker insists lineup "is gonna hit"

Despite struggles, Baker insists lineup "is gonna hit"
It's easy to start worrying about a lineup's overall deficiencies on a night like this, when a journeyman pitcher holds it to two hits (one of them a bunt single) and doesn't let a man so much as reach scoring position after the second inning. But the Nationals' 3-0 loss to the Phillies wasn't entirely an aberration. There have been issues with this lineup almost since opening day, some of them becoming more pronounced in recent days. Aside from Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos...
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Gonzalez, Hellickson locked in pitchers' duel (Nats lose 3-0)

Gonzalez, Hellickson locked in pitchers' duel (Nats lose 3-0)
The good news: Gio Gonzalez continues to pitch like a new man. The bad news: His Nationals teammates are making Jeremy Hellickson look just as good so far tonight. Both Gonzalez and Hellickson have posted dueling zeroes for four innings, turning a chilly Wednesday night at Nationals Park into a bit of a surprising pitchers' duel between the Nats and Phillies. Gonzalez set the tone right from the outset, getting through a scoreless top of the first on 14 pitches. He then retired nine...
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Why Solis made most sense for Nats bullpen right now

Why Solis made most sense for Nats bullpen right now
When Matt Belisle strained his right calf in the eighth inning last night, the Nationals knew they needed to summon a reinforcement for their bullpen, and they immediately placed a call to Triple-A Syracuse to give that new pitcher as much opportunity as possible to get on a plane to Washington in time for tonight's game against the Phillies. The name of that reinforcement, though, may have surprised some. Rather than call up another right-hander to fill Belisle's role, the Nationals instead...
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Belisle lands on DL with strained calf, Solis recalled

Belisle lands on DL with strained calf, Solis recalled
Unable to wait and see how severe Matt Belisle's calf injury is, with more fresh arms needed for their bullpen tonight, the Nationals have placed the veteran right-hander on the 15-day disabled list and recalled lefty Sammy Solis from Triple-A Syracuse. Solis will be in uniform and available out of the Nationals bullpen for tonight's game against the Phillies, giving manager Dusty Baker a much-needed arm that can throw multiple innings in case something happens to starter Gio Gonzalez early...
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Game 20 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

Game 20 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the early season has been Gio Gonzalez, who has been absolutely dominant through his first three starts. There's the obvious (1.42 ERA) but more impressive is his 20-to-4 strikeout-to-walk rate. Is this a sign of what we can expect all year, or has the left-hander simply taken advantage of some weak lineups? It's still too early to say for sure, but you can't not be impressed with the results so far. At the plate, the Nationals are still trying to get...
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Harper stays patient as teams intentionally walk him

Harper stays patient as teams intentionally walk him
Every time Bryce Harper does something that seems straight out of a video game, we wonder the same question: Will there ever come a point where opposing teams simply don't give the young slugger any opportunity to swing the bat in any situation of consequence? We got a bit of a taste last night what that would be like, when the Phillies walked Harper three times (twice intentionally). Even then, though, manager Pete Mackanin couldn't follow through all the way with his game plan and wound up...
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Scherzer again trying to figure out how to fix what ails him

Scherzer again trying to figure out how to fix what ails him
Max Scherzer is annoyed, but he's not upset. He's not pitching the way he has and knows he can, but he doesn't believe he needs to completely overhaul everything to get himself back in form. "Everything is not broke," the Nationals right-hander said following tonight's 4-3 loss to the Phillies. "This isn't a time where you just beat everything around and throw your glove around. The pitches are there. It's just a little fine-tuning. That's the difference between dominance and being...
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Scherzer's early troubles crop up again (Nats lose 4-3)

Scherzer's early troubles crop up again (Nats lose 4-3)
The first inning continues not to sit well with Max Scherzer, who once again tonight dug the Nationals into an early hole. On the heels of a shaky start in Miami five days ago, Scherzer took the mound tonight at Nationals Park and two batters later found himself trailing by two runs. He walked Phillies leadoff man Odubel Herrera on four pitches, then served up a home run to Andres Blanco on an 0-1 fastball over the plate. That's now eight first-inning runs surrendered by Scherzer in five...
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