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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Strasburg on track to return Wednesday vs. Braves

Strasburg on track to return Wednesday vs. Braves
NEW YORK - Stephen Strasburg is on track to rejoin the Nationals rotation Wednesday night, though the rehabbing right-hander hasn't been 100 percent cleared for that assignment yet. Strasburg threw off the bullpen mound at Citi Field this afternoon, his fourth such session in the last week, and reported no issues. That lines him up to pitch Wednesday, which appears to be the Nationals' plan for now, barring any setbacks. "Possibly," manager Dusty Baker said when asked if Strasburg would...
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Game 136 lineups: Nats at Mets

Game 136 lineups: Nats at Mets
NEW YORK - So, about that massive hurricane that was supposed to wreak havoc with tonight's series finale at Citi Field ... yeah, that was a whole lotta nothing. As I type this from the press box, staring out at the stadium, there isn't a cloud in the sky. There's a bit of a breeze, but hardly anything of consequence. In other words, the Nationals and Mets will be perfectly good to go tonight on Sunday Night Baseball. This is the Nats' lone Sunday night appearance of the season, which is...
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Sunday morning Q&A from New York

Sunday morning Q&A from New York
NEW YORK - Sorry for the sporadic execution of what at one time was a weekly Thursday Q&A feature here - even one of the Nationals players asked me yesterday when I was going to do another one of these - but the schedule recently hasn't been real conducive. The good news is that the Nationals' first Sunday Night Baseball appearance of the season does offer up a good opportunity to bring the Q&A back, seeing as how there's nothing to do on Sunday morning for the first time all...
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Lack of production from bottom of lineup remains a concern

Lack of production from bottom of lineup remains a concern
NEW YORK - Tonight's 3-1 loss to the Mets shouldn't have a dramatic impact on the Nationals' ultimate fortunes. They still lead the National League East by 9 1/2 games with 27 to play. Their magic number remains 18. But the manner in which the Nats lost this game might raise some red flags and may offer some evidence of one of the club's few problem areas that could come back to haunt the team if and when they start playing in October. It takes clutch hitting to win in the postseason, and...
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Nationals can't deliver big hits in 3-1 loss to Mets

Nationals can't deliver big hits in 3-1 loss to Mets
NEW YORK - Unable to convert countless opportunities with men on base, or keep the Mets from delivering themselves in clutch situations, the Nationals took a 3-1 loss tonight at Citi Field to momentarily halt the expansion of their hefty division lead. The Mets got a big two-run single from Curtis Granderson off Tanner Roark, added another insurance run later and rode their pitching staff to victory. In the process, they reduced the Nationals' cushion in the National League East to 9 1/2...
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Streak of first-inning success continues (Nationals lose 3-1)

Streak of first-inning success continues (Nationals lose 3-1)
NEW YORK - The Nationals seem to have this top-of-the-first thing down pretty well now. For the fifth time in as many games on their current road trip, the Nationals scored in their opening frame, handing their starting pitcher a lead before he ever took the mound. They jumped on the Mets again tonight, taking a quick 1-0 lead after loading the bases against rookie right-hander Robert Gsellman and then getting Anthony Rendon's sacrifice fly to bring home Trea Turner with the game's first...
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Nats will give Scherzer extra day off, start Lopez on Sunday

Nats will give Scherzer extra day off, start Lopez on Sunday
NEW YORK - The Nationals will give Max Scherzer an extra day off, bumping his originally scheduled start from Sunday night against the Mets to Monday afternoon against the Braves. Reynaldo Lopez, who will be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse, will start the series finale at Citi Field in Scherzer's place ... provided the weather cooperates. (The edges of Tropical Storm Hermine could impact the New York area at some point Sunday and Monday.) There's nothing physically wrong with Scherzer, who...
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Game 135 lineups: Nats at Mets (Turner wins rookie of month)

Game 135 lineups: Nats at Mets (Turner wins rookie of month)
NEW YORK - They took last night's series opener in impressive fashion. Now the Nationals try to take the series from the Mets and expand their growing lead in the National League East beyond their current 10 1/2-game cushion. It'll be Tanner Roark on the mound tonight at Citi Field, and he has been awfully good against the Mets this season (one earned run, five hits in 9 1/3 innings). Rookie Robert Gsellman (whose name apparently is pronounced like "Gazelle-Man") makes his second career...
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Power to left field offers further evidence of Harper's resurgence

Power to left field offers further evidence of Harper's resurgence
NEW YORK - Want the surest sign yet that Bryce Harper has at long last snapped out of his months-long slump? He's now racking up opposite-field doubles. There has been mounting evidence of Harper's resurgence over the last couple of weeks, ever since he took five days off to rest an ailing neck injury. But the last few days have bolstered the argument, and Friday night's performance during the Nationals' 4-1 victory over the Mets was among the best examples yet. Harper went 2-for-3 in the...
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Rookies shine brightest for Nationals in key win over Mets

Rookies shine brightest for Nationals in key win over Mets
NEW YORK - The 2016 Nationals are built to win, first and foremost, with experienced stars. Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Daniel Murphy, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman are supposed to lead the way and (in the best-case scenario) lead this franchise to the promised land come October. But Mike Rizzo is, at his core, a development guy. And so the general manager has attempted to infuse his veteran-laded roster with a handful of young players that can inject life and energy to the...
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Nats take opener from Mets 4-1, reduce magic number to 18

Nats take opener from Mets 4-1, reduce magic number to 18
NEW YORK - While fellow prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez leapfrogged him on the organizational depth chart and got the first opportunities to pitch for the Nationals this summer, A.J. Cole hung around and waited for his turn. Who would have guessed "Option C" would prove more reliable at this point? Cole turned in another impressive performance tonight, holding the Mets to one run and three hits over six innings, putting himself in position to earn his first career win. The...
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Rizzo on rehabbing players, den Dekker DFA (Nationals win 4-1)

Rizzo on rehabbing players, den Dekker DFA (Nationals win 4-1)
NEW YORK - Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross have both passed recent tests on their injured arms and both remain on track to rejoin the Nationals' active roster within the next week or so. Strasburg threw another bullpen session this afternoon at Citi Field, his third in the last week. He continues to ramp things up, but given the fact he hasn't missed much time with a sore elbow, the Nationals believe he'll be able to return without making any minor league rehab starts. "Everything looked...
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Burnett and Latos appreciative of chance to return to majors

Burnett and Latos appreciative of chance to return to majors
NEW YORK - Sean Burnett and Mat Latos each has been a successful big league pitcher, yet each found himself on the outside looking in all summer, for different reasons. So when each pitcher found himself inside the visitors clubhouse at Citi Field this afternoon, a Nationals uniform waiting in each locker, there were no shortage of emotions, not to mention some genuine gratitude for an opportunity neither necessarily thought would be afforded. "It's incredible," Burnett said. "It's...
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Game 134 lineups: Nats at Mets

Game 134 lineups: Nats at Mets
NEW YORK - The Nationals clubhouse at Citi Field is going to much more crowded than usual today, what with seven players added to the roster in the first round of September call-ups. And several of these guys (ie. Sean Burnett, Trevor Gott, Matt Grace) could get some significant opportunities down the stretch, potentially making their cases for spots on the postseason roster. As for tonight's series opener against the Mets, it's A.J. Cole getting a chance to pitch on the big stage against a...
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Burnett, Latos among September call-ups (den Dekker DFA)

Burnett, Latos among September call-ups (den Dekker DFA)
NEW YORK - The Nationals will have their first set of September reinforcements at their disposal for tonight's series opener against the Mets, including a pair of well-known veterans getting a shot at redemption. The club promoted seven players to the big league roster this afternoon: left-handers Sean Burnett and Matt Grace; right-handers Mat Latos, Trevor Gott and Rafael Martin; catcher Pedro Severino; and outfielder Brian Goodwin. Needing to clear two spots on the 40-man roster so Burnett...
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September keys for the Nats as the home stretch arrives

September keys for the Nats as the home stretch arrives
And so September has arrived at last and the baseball season has reached the home stretch. If it feels like this has been a long time coming ... well, it has. Think about how much has happened since the Nationals left Viera for the final time and came north to open what most hoped - but weren't certain - would be a promising season. Things have turned out almost as well as the Nationals could have hoped. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark are among the best pitching trios in...
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Late-summer acquisitions have boosted bullpen

Late-summer acquisitions have boosted bullpen
PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals entered late July with a bullpen that, while successful in the big picture, featured some significant question marks. Did they need a new closer? Did they need more reliable left-handed help? Did they need a burst of energy from another young arm? One month later, as the calendar now shifts from August to September, the Nationals bullpen has been tweaked. General manager Mike Rizzo addressed all three of those issues, and the results (so far) have been...
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Nats finish toughest portion of schedule with series sweep

Nats finish toughest portion of schedule with series sweep
PHILADELPHIA - It won't go down as their best 20-game stretch of the season, but it didn't need to be that. The Nationals simply needed to make it through the toughest three weeks of the 2016 campaign in one piece and not squander what they'd already built up over the previous four months. So in that regard, the Nationals' 11-9 record over the last 20 days - capped off by tonight's 2-1 victory over the Phillies - turned out to be an important development for a team that looked gassed at...
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