Nats bats can't find holes during 4-1 loss to Phillies

Nats bats can't find holes during 4-1 loss to Phillies
They hit the ball hard all night. But hard contact doesn't guarantee base hits, only a better chance of base hits. And the Nationals were guaranteed nothing tonight against the Phillies and handed a 4-1 loss despite a sustained barrage of line drives that found just about every fielder wearing a glove. Rookie right-hander Alec Asher tossed two-hit ball over six innings, earning his first career win despite zero strikeouts. A trio of Phillies relievers finished things off, handing the Nationals...
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Now in spotlight, Cole gives up pair of homers (Nationals lose 4-1)

Now in spotlight, Cole gives up pair of homers (Nationals lose 4-1)
With Stephen Strasburg shelved again for at least a while and perhaps the rest of the season, A.J. Cole suddenly finds himself in an unlikely spotlight. The Nationals need someone to fill these starting slots while Strasburg is out with a strained flexor mass in his right elbow and Joe Ross is still rehabbing from shoulder inflammation. And right now, Cole is the man getting the opportunity. In order to keep himself out there, though, the 24-year-old right-hander is going to have to avoid the...
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Strasburg has flexor mass strain, ligament is "good"

Strasburg has flexor mass strain, ligament is "good"
An MRI taken of Stephen Strasburg's elbow today revealed what Nationals officials described as a best-case scenario given the circumstances, though an injury that still might prevent the right-hander from returning to pitch this season. Strasburg has "a little strain in his flexor mass," according to Nationals head athletic trainer Paul Lessard, who added the pitcher's elbow ligament is "good." The club isn't offering a timetable for Strasburg to return, but the immediate plan is for the...
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Game 140 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

Game 140 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies
There is a healthy amount of anticipation and concern at Nationals Park this afternoon, as everyone awaits an update on Stephen Strasburg's elbow. Dusty Baker is scheduled to meet with reporters at 4 p.m., though I'd offer one word of caution: It's possible the Nats won't provide a definitive diagnosis this afternoon, especially if the MRI results need to be viewed by outside doctors (which would not be unusual at all). Regardless of any Strasburg news or non-news, the Nationals open a...
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Five straight winning seasons is no small feat for Nationals

Five straight winning seasons is no small feat for Nationals
Lost amid the chaos that was last night's game, from Stephen Strasburg's injury to an 11-inning contest that didn't end until 12:41 a.m., was this little nugget: The Nationals, by virtue of their 5-4 victory over the Braves, earned their 82nd win of the year. Yes, that clinches a winning record in 2016. And it means this franchise has now had five consecutive winning seasons. This may not seem all that important at the moment, and it's easy to say this means nothing at all for a franchise...
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MRI scheduled after Strasburg felt "pinch in the back of his elbow"

MRI scheduled after Strasburg felt "pinch in the back of his elbow"
Stephen Strasburg "felt a pinch in the back of his elbow" and will undergo an MRI on Thursday morning to determine the extent to which the Nationals right-hander is injured, manager Dusty Baker said. Speaking at nearly 1 a.m., about 15 minutes after his team wrapped up a 5-4 11-inning, rain-delayed victory over the Braves, and about four hours after Strasburg departed in the top of the third with that elbow injury, Baker expressed both clear concern about his pitcher's health while also...
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Strasburg injured, but Nats rally to beat Braves 5-4 in 11

Strasburg injured, but Nats rally to beat Braves 5-4 in 11
The status of Stephen Strasburg's right arm - which is very much an open question at this moment - has far more significance to the remainder of the Nationals season than the outcome of tonight's series finale against the Braves. But the game wasn't called off after Strasburg walked off the mound in apparent pain two batters into the top of the third. They all still count, and right now the only thing the Nationals can do beyond hoping Strasburg isn't seriously injured is keep trying to win...
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Strasburg leaves in third inning with apparent injury

Strasburg leaves in third inning with apparent injury
What should have been among the most encouraging moments of the season's final month - Stephen Strasburg returning to the mound after a brief stint on the disabled list - instead turned into a potential nightmare scenario for the Nationals and their $175 million right-hander, who had to depart in the top of the third inning with an apparent injury that left the ballpark in stunned silence. Strasburg grimaced after throwing each of his last two pitches: a fastball to Braves pitcher Mike...
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Strasburg's return underway after rain delay (Nats win in 11th)

Strasburg's return underway after rain delay (Nats win in 11th)
Stephen Strasburg is going to have to wait a bit longer to make his return to the mound. The start of the Nationals' series finale against the Braves, featuring Strasburg's first start in three weeks, has been delayed by a line of thunderstorms that has been hovering near South Capitol Street for several hours but has yet to produce significant precipitation at Nationals Park. The grounds crew stood at the ready with the tarp for more than 30 minutes, but the threat of rain apparently was...
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After unexpected DL stint, for Drew "it's definitely time to go"

After unexpected DL stint, for Drew "it's definitely time to go"
When Stephen Drew came down with the flu shortly after the All-Star break, the veteran infielder couldn't have anticipated he wouldn't be able to make a full return to the Nationals for another seven weeks. Then again, how could anyone have anticipated that seemingly innocent illness would lead to an inner-ear condition that left Drew with extreme bouts of dizziness that resembled vertigo and made many daily routines, let alone anything that takes place on a baseball field, difficult to...
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Game 139 lineups: Nats vs. Braves (Strasburg, Drew return)

Game 139 lineups: Nats vs. Braves (Strasburg, Drew return)
With their lead in the National League East a comfortable 8 1/2 games and their magic number at 16, there is some, but not a ton, of drama left to the Nationals' season. While the actual end result of every game does matter most in the end, at this point you could argue there are more important individual matters still at stake over the final 24 games. And among the most important individual matters is the return of Stephen Strasburg, which begins tonight at Nationals Park. After a 16-day...
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Harper joins 20-20 club for first time in big league career

Harper joins 20-20 club for first time in big league career
To his already hefty list of accomplishments in a brief major league career, Bryce Harper can now add another achievement: He has joined the 20-20 club for the first time. With a successful swipe of second base during last night's 9-7 victory over the Braves, Harper notched his 20th steal of the season. He already had 23 homers, which makes him the newest member of the 20-20 club. Harper is one of seven big leaguers with at least 20 homers and 20 steals so far this season, joining Mike Trout,...
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Contributions abound in come-from-behind win by Nationals

Contributions abound in come-from-behind win by Nationals
It's generally not a manager's preference to summon his bullpen two batters into the fourth inning. Nor is that generally a surefire path to victory. Let's just say Dusty Baker and the Nationals were feeling fortunate to emerge from tonight's nailbiter against the Braves with a 9-7 come-from-behind victory that did not come easily for the home team. "You got to believe and think it, and everyone on the bench was believing it," Baker said. "The power of positive thinking goes a long way,...
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Rendon, bullpen save the day as Nationals rally to 9-7 victory

Rendon, bullpen save the day as Nationals rally to 9-7 victory
They weathered a laborious (and brief) start from Gio Gonzalez, used Anthony Rendon's grand slam to get back in the game, rode their expanded bullpen through a string of scoreless innings and then watched as their lineup sealed the deal late. Suffice it to say that the Nationals' 9-7 victory over the Braves tonight had a little bit of everything. Tied in the bottom of the eighth, the Nationals took the lead for good when Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers airmailed a throw to third base on Ben...
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Nationals still mum on Wednesday night's starter

Nationals still mum on Wednesday night's starter
The Nationals are remaining mum about the identity of Wednesday night's starting pitcher, though Dusty Baker hasn't ruled out the possibility of Stephen Strasburg coming off the disabled list to face the Braves. Strasburg appeared lined up to make that start, his first since landing on the DL with a sore elbow on Aug. 21. But the right-hander threw off the bullpen mound at Nationals Park this afternoon, and that's not typically what a pitcher would do the day before he starts. Baker didn't...
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Game 138 lineups: Nats vs. Braves (Giolito, Difo recalled)

Game 138 lineups: Nats vs. Braves (Giolito, Difo recalled)
It hasn't drawn a lot of attention, but Gio Gonzalez has been pretty darn consistent over the last month and a half, righting a season that had threatened to go off the rails. In nine starts since the All-Star break, the left-hander is 5-1 with a 3.00 ERA. Six of those have been quality starts. And in five of his last starts, he has issued zero or one walk. The Nationals certainly hope Gonzalez will keep this up through the final stretch, beginning tonight when he takes the mound against the...
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Nats frustrated by weekend woes with men on base

Nats frustrated by weekend woes with men on base
NEW YORK - The Nationals, in the big picture, have not been particularly bad at hitting with runners in scoring position this season. They rank fifth in the National League in that category, ahead of fellow contenders like the Cubs, Giants, Dodgers and Mets. But it does seem like when they go cold in those situations, they go ice cold. And it doesn't get any colder than the last two nights at Citi Field, when the Nationals went a combined 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position, losing a...
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Lopez still learning what it takes to beat big league lineups

Lopez still learning what it takes to beat big league lineups
NEW YORK - Reynaldo Lopez has made six big league starts. Two of them have ended in victories for both the rookie right-hander and the Nationals. Each of those, however, came against the Braves, owners of the worst record in the National League and earlier today officially eliminated from the race for a division title. Lopez's four other starts all have come against teams contending for postseason berths: the Dodgers, Giants, Orioles and Mets. And the results in those four games have been...
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Nationals drop second straight (plus series) to Mets 5-1

Nationals drop second straight (plus series) to Mets 5-1
NEW YORK - Reynaldo Lopez still doesn't look quite ready for the big stage. The Nationals lineup, meanwhile, looked lost with runners in scoring position this weekend. Lopez labored again tonight against a quality opponent, lasting only four innings in a nationally televised Sunday night game against the Mets. Fellow rookie right-hander Seth Lugo had no such stage fright in mowing down the Nationals over seven strong innings en route to New York's 5-1 victory at Citi Field. With a chance to...
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Rookie starters being tested on Sunday night (Nationals lose 5-1)

Rookie starters being tested on Sunday night (Nationals lose 5-1)
NEW YORK - The Nationals and Mets already were looking at a late night with an 8:08 p.m. start on Sunday Night Baseball and then travel to Washington and Cincinnati, respectively, for Labor Day matinee games. The way both lineups have made Reynaldo Lopez and Seth Lugo work early, they're going to be even sleepier than initially feared when they get to the park Monday. Lopez and Lugo have been put to the test in this nationally televised matchup of dueling rookies. Lopez needed 25 pitches a...
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