Why the Nationals believe their lineup is good enough as is

Why the Nationals believe their lineup is good enough as is
PHOENIX - The Nationals, believe it or not, have one of the league's better offenses. They're fourth in the National League with 497 runs scored. They're tied for third with a .427 slugging percentage, and their .752 OPS ranks fourth. They rank second only to the Cardinals with 139 home runs. So why all the dismay when this team didn't acquire another bat before Monday's trade deadline? It probably has something to do with the manner in which the Nationals score their runs. They rely on...
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Nationals blow out Diamondbacks 14-1 in rare laugher

Nationals blow out Diamondbacks 14-1 in rare laugher
PHOENIX - After a grueling weekend in San Francisco that featured more tense moments - not to mention missed opportunities - than they would have liked, the Nationals were in need of a good, old-fashioned laugher. Boy, did they get one tonight at Chase Field. The Nationals blasted the Diamondbacks out of their air-conditioned ballpark, winning 14-1 behind an all-out offensive attack that included hits from all nine starters, not to mention yet another boringly dominant performance from Stephen...
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Dusty Baker on today's lack of trades (Nationals win 14-1)

Dusty Baker on today's lack of trades (Nationals win 14-1)
PHOENIX - Though they had some interest in trying to add another piece or two before today's trade deadline, the Nationals didn't think any potential addition was worth the price of acquisition. "There's always some tweaking that you'd like to be done, but you have to weigh the costs," manager Dusty Baker said. While fellow contenders like the Cubs, Indians, Giants and Rangers aggressively gave up prospects to add players for the stretch run, the Nationals' lone trade this week (Felipe...
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X-rays on Zimmerman's hand negative, Ross nearing return

X-rays on Zimmerman's hand negative, Ross nearing return
PHOENIX - Ryan Zimmerman appears to have avoided serious injury, but the Nationals first baseman is out of tonight's lineup with a sore left wrist one day after it was struck by a pitch. Multiple X-rays taken on Zimmerman's wrist came back negative, according to manager Dusty Baker, who was breathing a sigh of relief after getting the news, knowing others who have been hit in a similar fashion (most notably Jayson Werth last season) have wound up missing months. "We dodged a bullet that...
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Game 106 lineups: Nats at Diamondbacks

Game 106 lineups: Nats at Diamondbacks
PHOENIX - Hello from the Valley of the Sun, where it's actually a balmy 97 degrees this afternoon. There's even a chance of rain this evening, which isn't all that uncommon this time of year, which is monsoon season in these parts. (No, seriously. You can look it up. Plus, I grew up here, so I know all about it.) The roof at Chase Field will be closed for tonight's series opener between the Nationals and Diamondbacks, in which Stephen Strasburg takes the mound and looks to become the...
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Nationals hold firm as trade deadline passes

Nationals hold firm as trade deadline passes
PHOENIX - The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Nationals roster remains the same as it was 24 hours ago. The Nationals weren't close to pulling off any deals in advance of the 4 p.m. EDT deadline, according to club sources, but that wasn't a surprising development considering they already addressed their biggest stretch-run need over the weekend with the acquisition of Mark Melancon. With their new closer in place, the Nationals explored the possibility of adding more bullpen help or...
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Could Nats pull off any more deals before today's deadline?

Could Nats pull off any more deals before today's deadline?
PHOENIX - And so the calendar has shifted to August and the baseball season reaches its final third. But not before today's non-waiver trade deadline, which comes at 4 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. out here in the desert). Those of you who have followed this over the years know the trade deadline has always been July 31. But since that fell on a Sunday this year, Major Leauge Baseball made the wise decision to push it back a day, ensuring the deadline wouldn't come and go while just about every team in...
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Sloppy play dooms Nationals in Sunday loss to Giants

Sloppy play dooms Nationals in Sunday loss to Giants
SAN FRANCISCO - There were two uncharacteristic mistakes in the field that led to two runs. There was an uncharacteristic sequence of bad baserunning that might have cost them a run. There was an uncharacteristic display of emotion by Ryan Zimmerman after fans at AT&T Park were getting on him in the bottom of the ninth. And there was an all-too-characteristic lack of hits in key spots, all of which contributed to a 3-1 loss for the Nationals and a four-game series split with the Giants that...
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Nationals drop finale to Giants 3-1 to split weekend series

Nationals drop finale to Giants 3-1 to split weekend series
SAN FRANCISCO - A pair of throwing errors and some sloppy baserunning cost the Nationals this afternoon, and a lack of offense kept them from mounting a rally that would have been necessary to avoid a 3-1 loss to the Giants. Two of San Francisco's runs came via errors by Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon, mistakes that prevented Gio Gonzalez from pitching his way out of jams. Rendon's subsequent baserunning blunder also put a halt to what might have been a game-tying rally by a Nationals lineup...
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Harper's disastrous July nearly over (Nationals lose 3-1)

Harper's disastrous July nearly over (Nationals lose 3-1)
SAN FRANCISCO - Nobody on the Nationals will be happier when the calendar flips to August on Monday than Bryce Harper, who is wrapping up a disastrous July that ranks among the worst months of his career. After striking out in the top of the third inning this afternoon, Harper is hitting just .169 this month, a prolonged slump that has dropped his season batting average to a paltry .233. Harper has connected for four home runs, including his third-deck shot at Nationals Park two weeks ago, but...
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After "whirlwind" day, Melancon ready to close for Nationals

After "whirlwind" day, Melancon ready to close for Nationals
SAN FRANCISCO - Mark Melancon was in Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon, preparing for the Pirates' game against the Brewers, when he was told he had been traded to the Nationals and needed to get to San Francisco as soon as possible. Melancon gathered his stuff, communicated with his wife (who is taking care of the couple's three young children, all 4 or younger, back in Pittsburgh), raced to the airport and then waited for his flight to Phoenix, which was delayed. He eventually made it to...
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Game 105 lineups: Nats at Giants

Game 105 lineups: Nats at Giants
SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals have an opportunity to take three of four from the Giants, which would be no small accomplishment given the difficulty of doing that on the west coast against another first-place club, not to mention given the current state of their bullpen. The good news: Mark Melancon is here and will be in uniform for today's series finale, available to pitch the ninth inning should the Nationals need him. The big questions facing Dusty Baker now are who gets the seventh and...
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Lopez hopes erratic outings will be "learning experience"

Lopez hopes erratic outings will be "learning experience"
SAN FRANCISCO - Reynaldo Lopez was undone in his first career start by leaving too many fastballs over the heart of the plate. He was undone in his second career start by not putting enough pitches over any portion of the plate. The young Nationals prospect battled command issues throughout Saturday's outing against the Giants, resulting in five walks and an elevated pitch count that prevented him from remaining in the game beyond the fourth inning. The manner in which he put San Francisco's...
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Rizzo, Baker and Papelbon react to the Melancon trade

Rizzo, Baker and Papelbon react to the Melancon trade
SAN FRANCISCO - In his eight seasons as general manager of the Nationals, Mike Rizzo has rarely traded for a player who isn't under club control beyond the current season. The situation this summer, however, is quite different, and so Rizzo didn't hesitate to go against his usual mantra in acquiring Mark Melancon to be his closer for the next two months. "I just think that his resume and his performance level dictated that he was a guy to really go after and attack," Rizzo said this evening...
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Depleted bullpen caves in seventh during Nats' 5-3 loss

Depleted bullpen caves in seventh during Nats' 5-3 loss
SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals will be getting much-needed bullpen reinforcement Sunday when new closer Mark Melancon joins the club following his trade from the Pirates. But before that happened, they still needed to get through the latter innings of this afternoon's game against the Giants. And that proved a significant challenge. Three relievers combined to give up a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh, helping hand San Francisco a 5-3 victory at AT&T Park. Forced to turn to his...
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The domino effect of the Melancon trade (Nats lose 5-3)

The domino effect of the Melancon trade (Nats lose 5-3)
SAN FRANCISCO - Mark Melancon is expected to join the Nationals in time for Sunday's series finale against the Giants and told reporters in Milwaukee (where the Pirates are currently playing) he believes he'll immediately be available to close for his new club. The Nationals will need to make another roster move to clear a spot for Melancon, but the trade comes at a particularly fortuitous time for the team that allows them to make a simple transaction. With three off-days coming up in the...
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Nats acquire closer Melancon for Rivero, Hearn (updated)

Nats acquire closer Melancon for Rivero, Hearn (updated)
SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals have found their much-needed closer, and though he's only going to be a two-month rental, the club didn't have to give up any of its top prospects to get him. The Nationals have acquired Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for left-hander Felipe Rivero and Single-A left-hander Taylor Hearn, the team announced this afternoon. The deal came together just before the scheduled 4:05 p.m. EDT first pitch of today's game against the Giants, allowing the...
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Game 104 lineups: Nats at Giants

Game 104 lineups: Nats at Giants
SAN FRANCISCO - After another wild victory last night, the Nationals are back at it this afternoon, trying to make it three in row over the Giants at AT&T Park. They'll be fielding a lineup that's a bit shorthanded, with Daniel Murphy sitting out after tweaking his left leg last night and Wilson Ramos getting a well-deserved day off after catching nine in a row. Murphy is dealing with tightness in the same leg he injured during the All-Star Game, though Dusty Baker said it's not...
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Murphy exits game after leg "tightens up"

Murphy exits game after leg "tightens up"
SAN FRANCISCO - Lost amid the chaos and the celebration of last night's triple-play-featured Nationals victory was a potentially disheartening sight: Daniel Murphy coming out of the game with an apparent injury. Murphy departed in the bottom of the sixth, one inning after he appeared to pull up a bit rounding second base on a long triple to deep right-center. According to manager Dusty Baker, Murphy said "his legs were tightening up." "It's cold," Baker said. "Invariably whenever you...
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Historic triple play helps Nationals escape with another 4-1 win

Historic triple play helps Nationals escape with another 4-1 win
SAN FRANCISCO - Sammy Solis, standing on the mound, wasn't quite sure what was going on. Max Scherzer and a few others, watching from the clubhouse, were confused as well. Denard Span obviously had no idea, because he kept running to the plate, unaware he needed to run back to third base. Dusty Baker, in the dugout, was just happy he actually was able to see the entire play develop with his own eyes after missing a similar opportunity 40 years ago. The only ones who truly needed to be in...
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