"It's win or go home - it's time to win"

"It's win or go home - it's time to win"
LOS ANGELES - It was the kind of sequence that championship clubs so often put together in October. Trailing late in a critical postseason game, facing one of the best in the sport, somehow finding a way to string together several quality at-bats and produce an inspiring rally. The Nationals did all that in the top of the seventh today at Dodger Stadium, and after Daniel Murphy's two-out, two-run single brought home the tying run, it was perfectly appropriate to wonder whether this would be...
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Late rally not quite enough for Nationals in tense Game 4 loss

Late rally not quite enough for Nationals in tense Game 4 loss
LOS ANGELES - The seventh-inning rally, featuring so many quality at-bats and a little bit of good fortune, had brought the Nationals back from the brink, improbably giving them five runs off Clayton Kershaw and leaving the fate of Game 4 of the National League Division Series hanging in the balance. But the Dodgers weren't totally deflated, despite their best efforts to melt down in front of 49,617 of their fans. They clawed their way back, plating the decisive run in the bottom of the eighth...
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Strasburg has "a little discomfort" during bullpen session

Strasburg has "a little discomfort" during bullpen session
LOS ANGELES - As the Nationals attempt to finish off the National League Division Series this afternoon, Stephen Strasburg continues to attempt to return from an elbow injury and pitch for his team at some point later in the postseason. But Strasburg's road back to game action remains littered with speed bumps and potholes, and he hit one of them Monday while throwing in the bullpen at Dodger Stadium. Strasburg was scheduled to throw 35 pitches, building off the 25-pitch session he had three...
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NLDS Game 4 lineups: Nats at Dodgers

NLDS Game 4 lineups: Nats at Dodgers
LOS ANGELES - The Nationals today have the opportunity to do something they've never done before, not to mention something no major pro sports franchise in D.C. has done in a long time. With a victory in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, they would advance to their first National League Championship Series. In doing so, they would become the first D.C. team to reach the semifinals of its sport since the 1998 Capitals went to the Stanley Cup Final. So no pressure today, guys....
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Starters still unnamed as countdown to Game 4 looms

Starters still unnamed as countdown to Game 4 looms
LOS ANGELES - The Nationals and Dodgers knew all along they'd be playing Game 4 of the National League Division Series this afternoon. They just didn't know who the starting pitcher for either team would be. Or what time the game would begin. As they woke up this morning, they still hadn't revealed the identities of the starting pitchers. But at least they knew the game time. Thanks to the Giants' dramatic 13-inning victory that ended at 2:45 a.m. EDT, Game 4 at Dodger Stadium will begin at...
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Once a liability, Nationals bullpen has led the way in NLDS

Once a liability, Nationals bullpen has led the way in NLDS
LOS ANGELES - Shawn Kelley likes to walk around the clubhouse at Nationals Park wearing a T-shirt bearing a simple message: "Relievers are people, too." Too often the guys who occupy big league bullpens are anonymous to the masses, a revolving door of arms brought into games only when the higher-profile starter can't do his job. The game, though, is changing. Bullpens matter more than ever, and doubly so in the postseason, when it's not uncommon to see managers rely on relief corps to...
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Nats ride early offense, then bullpen to 8-3 victory in Game 3

Nats ride early offense, then bullpen to 8-3 victory in Game 3
LOS ANGELES - They played a four-hour game Sunday afternoon in cold, windy D.C., then flew across the country, then woke up and played another four-hour game Monday afternoon in warm, sun-baked L.A. But this is the postseason, and you do whatever is required of you this time of the year, physical and mental toll and sleep patterns cast aside for the moment. And right now, the Nationals are doing whatever is asked of them in an attempt to win the first playoff series in club history. Score four...
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Game 4 starters still undecided by both clubs

Game 4 starters still undecided by both clubs
LOS ANGELES - They of course still need to play Game 3 this afternoon, but the Nationals know that no matter the outcome they will be playing Game 4 of the National League Division Series here at Dodger Stadium sometime Tuesday (either 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. EDT, depending on the status of the Cubs-Giants series). So the Nationals will need a starting pitcher for Game 4. They just haven't revealed the identity of that person yet. Conventional wisdom says Joe Ross would get the nod, as originally...
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With surprise homer, Lobaton gets monkey off Nationals' backs

With surprise homer, Lobaton gets monkey off Nationals' backs
The reaction the moment Jose Lobaton made contact wasn't joyous. There was no instantaneous celebration in the Nationals dugout, nor in the batter's box when Lobaton connected with Rich Hill's 1-1 curveball in the bottom of the fourth inning and sent it soaring toward left field. Any other day, the Nationals would have been jumping up and down and Lobaton would have been flipping his bat before a triumphant trip around the bases. But with a persistent 25 mph wind blowing in from left field...
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Lobaton's blast, bullpen's dominance help Nats win Game 2

Lobaton's blast, bullpen's dominance help Nats win Game 2
It had to come eventually. The Nationals simply couldn't keep squandering every single scoring opportunity they had in the postseason, right? No, there actually is enough talent in this lineup to deliver big hits in big spots. But who in their wildest dreams expected the guy to deliver the biggest hit of them all to be Jose Lobaton? The longtime backup catcher, pressed into a high-profile role after teammate Wilson Ramos tore his ACL during the final week of the regular season, indeed came...
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NLDS Game 2 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers (take two)

NLDS Game 2 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers (take two)
The good news: There's no rain in sight today. (Not that there turned out to be much of it yesterday after Major League Baseball postponed Game 2 of the National League Division Series.) The bad news: It's cold. And it's windy. There's a stiff wind blowing from left field to right field, and it's supposed to stay that way all afternoon. That wouldn't seem to benefit a right-handed-heavy lineup like the Nationals have, but potentially benefit a left-handed-heavy lineup like the Dodgers...
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Sunday morning notes before rescheduled Game 2

Sunday morning notes before rescheduled Game 2
Some Sunday morning leftovers to get you warmed up before Game 2 of the National League Division Series finally is played at 1:08 p.m. ... * There were plenty of discouraging aspects of the Nationals' 4-3 loss in Game 1 on Friday night, but here was a particularly encouraging thing that happened: Ryan Zimmerman had two hits. After a season full of strikeouts and hard-hit balls right at defenders, Zimmerman looked like a completely different guy at the plate in this game. He went 2-for-4, with...
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NLDS Game 2 postponed until Sunday at 1:08 p.m. (updated)

NLDS Game 2 postponed until Sunday at 1:08 p.m. (updated)
Major League Baseball calls all the shots when it comes to postseason games. So when the time came this afternoon to decide whether Game 2 of the National League Division Series should proceed as planned, be delayed or postponed, all eyes turned to Rob Manfred, who already was on the premises for a pre-planned appearance at Nationals Park. The commissioner's verdict: We'll see you back here Sunday afternoon. With rain falling and predicted to continue falling well into the evening, Manfred...
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Nats hope more relaxed Turner will make difference in Game 2

Nats hope more relaxed Turner will make difference in Game 2
Trea Turner's importance to the Nationals' chances this postseason is a given at this point. The Dodgers know it. Everybody knows it. Which means the Nationals' chances of winning Game 2 of the best-of-five National League Division Series this afternoon go up considerably if Turner is able to produce atop the lineup and have the kind of impact he did throughout the season's second half. Turner's postseason debut Friday night was a mixed bag. He drove in one of the Nats' three runs with a...
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NLDS Game 2 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers

NLDS Game 2 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers
It's a gray, dreary afternoon in the District, perhaps appropriate given the mood around here after last night's frustrating 4-3 loss in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. The Nationals are basically in must-win territory today in Game 2, not a position they want to be in, but the position they find themselves in regardless. Tanner Roark, though, is a good person to have on the mound for a situation like this. You know Roark isn't going to let the pressure get to him. And you...
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Nationals lament missed opportunity to beat vulnerable Kershaw

Nationals lament missed opportunity to beat vulnerable Kershaw
There were two ways for the Nationals to look at their offensive performance in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. The glass-half-full way: They put pressure on Clayton Kershaw all night, with nine men reaching base against the Dodgers ace, who was pulled after only five innings. And they kept that pressure up against the Los Angeles bullpen, ultimately giving themselves 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position during the course of a game they initially trailed by four runs. The...
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Clutch hit eludes Nats once again in Game 1 loss to Dodgers

Clutch hit eludes Nats once again in Game 1 loss to Dodgers
The pessimistic view of Game 1 of the National League Division Series will suggest that this looked awfully familiar. The Nationals ace didn't live up to the hype, surrendering a couple of big blows. The lineup gave itself countless opportunities with men in scoring position and couldn't deliver. The end result: a one-run loss that leaves this club facing an uphill battle in this best-of-five series. Tonight's 4-3 loss to the Dodgers bore plenty of resemblance to the Nationals' three losses...
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Strasburg throws off bullpen mound for first time since injury

Strasburg throws off bullpen mound for first time since injury
Whatever hope Stephen Strasburg has of pitching for the Nationals again this season got a boost today when the right-hander threw off a bullpen mound for the first time since he injured his elbow against the Braves on Sept. 7. The bullpen session was brief, roughly 25 pitches over perhaps 10 minutes, but it did represent a significant step for Strasburg in his longshot attempt to return in time to help the Nationals this postseason. The Nationals did not include Strasburg on their 25-man roster...
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Dusty Baker explains final NLDS roster decisions

Dusty Baker explains final NLDS roster decisions
The Nationals' decision to carry only seven relievers with a six-man bench for the National League Division Series boiled down their opponent for this first round of the playoffs and the fact that several of their position players are still dealing with nagging ailments. Manager Dusty Baker said the Dodgers' left-handed-laden lineup necessitated the carrying of three lefties in his NLDS bullpen. And with Daniel Murphy (buttocks), Bryce Harper (thumb), Jayson Werth (back), Ryan Zimmerman...
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NLDS Game 1 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers

NLDS Game 1 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers
The day has come at last. It's been a long wait since the Nationals clinched the National League East title 13 days ago. But this afternoon, the postseason begins in D.C. It's Game 1 of the National League Division Series, and it's as good a pitching matchup as you can get: Max Scherzer vs. Clayton Kershaw. The two aces will take center stage and draw most of the attention in the buildup to the game, but there are other storylines to this one as well. Such as the significant presence of...
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