Game 70 lineups: Nats at Padres

Game 70 lineups: Nats at Padres
On the heels of perhaps their worst loss of the season, the Nationals will try to bounce back this afternoon and close out their four-game series in San Diego on a high note. Three out of four anywhere ain't half-bad, and the Nats would happily take that before making the short trip up the coast to Los Angeles, where Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers await Monday night. Gio Gonzalez needs a bounceback performance of his own today after a rough stretch that has seen the left-hander go 1-4 with a...
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Rivero's struggles coming to a head for Nationals

Rivero's struggles coming to a head for Nationals
The Nationals have long seen in Felipe Rivero a dynamic left-hander with the kind of overwhelming stuff that suggest he could become a big league closer some day in the not-too-distant future. That may yet happen, but at this particular moment, Rivero looks like a pitcher in need of a major overhaul. "He's in a bad state right now," manager Dusty Baker told reporters in San Diego following last night's 7-3 loss. "Nothing's really going his way." That's an understatement. Rivero has...
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Eighth-inning meltdown turns late lead into 7-3 loss

Eighth-inning meltdown turns late lead into 7-3 loss
Thanks to some timely hits, a dominant-at-times start from Max Scherzer and a couple fortuitous breaks, the Nationals found themselves in prime position to win their fourth straight game tonight and expand their ever-growing lead in the NL East. Instead, an eighth-inning meltdown by reliever Felipe Rivero turned a well-played victory over the Padres into perhaps the Nats' worst loss of the season. Rivero failed to retire any of the six batters he faced during a calamitous bottom of the eighth...
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Recently potent lineup tries to stay red-hot (Nats lose 7-3)

Recently potent lineup tries to stay red-hot (Nats lose 7-3)
The Nationals have been waiting 2 1/2 months to see if their entire lineup is capable of coming together at the same time and producing like one of the best lineups in the majors. That time may finally be arriving. The Nationals have turned into a consistent offensive force over the last couple of weeks. They've scored an average of 6.8 runs over their last 12 games. Not surprisingly, they've gone 10-2 during this stretch. And production isn't just coming from one or two sources. After...
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Game 69 lineups: Nats at Padres

Game 69 lineups: Nats at Padres
Do the Nationals have another late-night win in them? They've already taken the first two games of this series in San Diego, piling up 15 total runs and launching five homers. Now they'll try to make it three in a row, once again facing the Padres late tonight at Petco Park. Max Scherzer gets this start for the Nationals, looking to duplicate his dominant outing in San Diego last season, when he tossed seven scoreless innings, striking out 11. Right-hander Colin Rea takes the mound for the...
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Baker has no choice but to mix and match in bullpen for now

Baker has no choice but to mix and match in bullpen for now
When Dusty Baker named Shawn Kelley his interim closer late Thursday night, the chosen replacement for Jonathan Papelbon while the latter endures through the first DL stint of his career, he did so with a caveat. "We think he's best suited for that until Pap gets back," Baker told reporters in San Diego. "But again, he's thrown two days in a row, and I doubt if he'll be in that situation again tomorrow. He'd love to do it again. He'll never not take the ball, but sometimes we have to...
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Nats ride early offense, late bullpen work to beat Padres 7-5

Nats ride early offense, late bullpen work to beat Padres 7-5
Cross-country flights. Late-night starts. No off-days. Nothing right now seems to be able to derail the Nationals, who were at it again tonight during a 7-5 victory over the Padres. With another offensive explosion at Petco Park, the Nationals won for the 10th time in their last 12 games and in the process expanded their lead in the National League East to a season-high six games. Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy each homered, and Murphy added a two-run double to pace another well-balanced...
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Ross faces Padres club that traded him (Nats win 7-5)

Ross faces Padres club that traded him (Nats win 7-5)
The Padres knew they were giving up a lot when they sent Trea Turner to the Nationals as part of a December 2014 three-team trade that also brought prized prospect Wil Myers from Tampa Bay to San Diego. They just didn't know long before Turner makes any real impact in the big leagues, they'd be watching Joe Ross do just that. Ross, widely considered a secondary piece of that blockbuster trade, has proven a revelation for the Nationals, a highly promising young right-hander who has become a...
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Game 68 lineups: Nats at Padres

Game 68 lineups: Nats at Padres
The Nationals didn't appear to suffer at all from jet lag last night in the first game of their first West Coast trip of the season. The bats were alive during an 8-5 win over the Padres that included home runs from Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Anthony Rendon. Whether all the late nights and travel catch up to them tonight remains to be seen. This much is certain: Joe Ross should be plenty motivated facing the organization that drafted and then traded him. Ross has pitched against the Padres...
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Encouraging signs at the plate from Harper and Rendon

Encouraging signs at the plate from Harper and Rendon
The Nationals have been waiting for Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon to start hitting like Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon again. With each passing day, it looks like both stars are finding their way back to their old selves. Harper and Rendon each played a key role in last night's 8-5 win in San Diego, but it was more than the mere production they contributed (Harper homered and drove in three runs, Rendon also homered). It was the manner in which they produced that was particularly striking,...
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Nats slug three homers at spacious Petco Park in 8-5 win

Nats slug three homers at spacious Petco Park in 8-5 win
The home run has become such a big part of the Nationals' offensive attack, they're even managing to hit them in bunches in one of baseball's most spacious ballparks. With three more homers tonight, the Nationals outslugged the Padres 8-5, fazed not one bit by the expanded dimensions at Petco Park. Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos hit back-to-back opposite-field shots in the top of the third. Anthony Rendon added a solo blast in the sixth, raising the Nats' season total to 91 homers, tops in...
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First trip west in 2016 presents challenges (Nats win 8-5)

First trip west in 2016 presents challenges (Nats win 8-5)
A full 41 percent of the baseball season has now been played, which is more than ample time for teams to face a wide assortment of competition from other divisions within their own league and even outside their own league. So how is it that the Nationals tonight are facing their very first National League West opponent of 2016? In an odd quirk to their schedule, the Nats somehow avoided any NL West opponent through their first 66 games. They are the only team in the majors who hasn't yet...
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Game 67 lineups: Nats at Padres

Game 67 lineups: Nats at Padres
On the heels of their dramatic, 12-inning victory last night against the Cubs, the Nationals open their first West Coast trip of the season with the first of four games in San Diego. Tanner Roark gets the start in tonight's opener, looking to build off his strong start against the Phillies his last time out. Right-hander Erik Johnson, acquired by the Padres from the White Sox in the recent James Shields trade, takes the mound at Petco Park. He'll be facing a Nationals lineup that is without...
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Nationals top draft pick Kieboom gets $2 million to sign

Nationals top draft pick Kieboom gets $2 million to sign
The Nationals and top draft pick Carter Kieboom agreed to terms this week on a deal that will pay the 18-year-old shortstop a $2 million signing bonus, a source familiar with the decision confirmed. That amount, which was first reported by MLB.com's Jim Callis, is roughly the same as Major League Baseball's predetermined slot amount of $2,065,900 for the 28th overall selection in last week's draft. The club has yet to announce Kieboom's signing, but he appeared at Nationals Park on Monday,...
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Cubs-Nats games have proven tense, tight affairs so far

Cubs-Nats games have proven tense, tight affairs so far
There is a long way to go, a whole lot of baseball left to play and no way to know how things will shake out in the end. But there is at least a reasonable chance of the Nationals and Cubs seeing each other again in 2016, even after today's series finale on South Capitol Street. The owners of the NL's two best records after 2 1/2 months of baseball are well positioned to keep up their strong play and reach October. And then, it's quite possible they would square off at some point, once the...
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Nats manufacture runs, but not enough to beat Cubs

Nats manufacture runs, but not enough to beat Cubs
More than two months into the season, the Nationals have established their ability to hit the ball out of the park. They lead the National League with 87 homers in 65 games. They have not yet, however, established their ability to manufacture runs. There have been glimpses, as there were tonight against the Cubs. But they haven't quite been able to get over that hump on a consistent basis. This 4-3 loss before a boisterous crowd of 41,955 - largest of the season to date - underscored the issue...
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Gonzalez laboring vs. Cubs lineup (Nats lose 4-3)

Gonzalez laboring vs. Cubs lineup (Nats lose 4-3)
Last time, it was the first inning that got Gio Gonzalez. This time, the damage has come in the third and fourth innings. Despite a promising start to his night, Gonzalez has run into trouble the second time around the Cubs lineup, giving up two runs in the top of the third and another in the top of the fourth to leave the Nationals in a 3-1 hole. It's a frustrating performance thus far for Gonzalez, who gave up three first-inning runs to the White Sox last week but then bounced back with six...
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After initial reluctance, Papelbon agrees to first career DL stint

After initial reluctance, Papelbon agrees to first career DL stint
Jonathan Papelbon had never spent a day on the disabled list in his 12-year career, and he certainly didn't want to end that streak now after feeling a tug on his right side while throwing a warmup pitch before the top of the ninth of Sunday's game. But after meeting with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach Mike Maddux late Monday night, Papelbon came to the realization a DL stint was in both his and the team's best interests. "I've taken a lot of...
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Game 65 lineups: Nats vs. Cubs

Game 65 lineups: Nats vs. Cubs
The Nationals had plenty of reason to feel good about themselves last night after a 4-1 victory over the Cubs, one of their better wins of the season to date. But they arrived at the ballpark today to the news that they need to find a new closer for at least the next 15 days, with Jonathan Papelbon landing on the disabled list for the first time in his career with a right intercostal strain. We'll have to wait and see who Dusty Baker tabs as his ninth-inning guy for now, but it would be hard...
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Papelbon lands on DL with intercostal strain, Belisle activated

Papelbon lands on DL with intercostal strain, Belisle activated
The Nationals have placed closer Jonathan Papelbon on the 15-day disabled list with a right intercostal strain and activated fellow right-hander Matt Belisle off the DL to take his roster spot. It's not yet known how Papelbon, who had never before been on the DL during his 12-year career, suffered the injury. But the 35-year-old wasn't available to pitch during last night's 4-1 win over the Cubs, watching from the dugout as Shawn Kelley instead recorded the save. Manager Dusty Baker offered...
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