Game 120 lineups: Nats at Braves (Cole up, Goodwin down)

Game 120 lineups: Nats at Braves (Cole up, Goodwin down)
ATLANTA - Hello from Turner Field, which is in full countdown mode right now. There are only 22 Braves games left to be played in this ballpark. The bad news: The Nationals will be here for seven of those games, with a four-game series this weekend and then another three-game set next month before they shut down the place for good and move to a new park in the northwest Atlanta suburbs. The Nats come here reeling a bit from a taxing three days at Coors Field in which the bullpen was forced to...
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With strong arm and strong glove, Roark beats the heat

With strong arm and strong glove, Roark beats the heat
Even when he's being praised, Tanner Roark often seems to be undersold. Most have come to realize the right-hander is legitimately one of the best pitchers in baseball. And any who haven't need only see his 13-6 record and 2.81 ERA in 24 starts to realize it. Few, however, give Roark credit for being a complete pitcher, right down to the part where he field his position exceptionally well. "He's a good athlete," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "Guys kid him because he doesn't look...
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Harper talks his way into lineup, helps Nationals win

Harper talks his way into lineup, helps Nationals win
Dusty Baker wanted to give Bryce Harper one more day off. His struggling right fielder hadn't played in eight days due to a neck injury that had become the source of significant speculation with each passing 24 hours, but why push it and send him out there on an afternoon in which the heat index registered 107 degrees in advance of a long flight west to Colorado for the start of a long road trip? Upon seeing yet another Nationals lineup without his name included, though, Harper went into...
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Nationals blow out Braves 9-1 to complete winning homestand

Nationals blow out Braves 9-1 to complete winning homestand
Bryce Harper returned to the lineup this afternoon and helped the Nationals take a quick lead on the Braves. Anthony Rendon, who is becoming a consistent force of production once again, later put an exclamation point on a 9-1 thumping of Atlanta on a sweltering hot afternoon in the District. Harper, playing for the first time in eight days since a neck injury sidelined him, roped an RBI double in his first at-bat and also walked and scored. The struggling right fielder hadn't been in the...
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Harper doubles to contribute to early lead (Nationals win 9-1)

Harper doubles to contribute to early lead (Nationals win 9-1)
They don't have Daniel Murphy or Jayson Werth in the starting lineup today, but the Nationals are off to a perfectly fine start against the Braves, thanks in no small part to a guy playing for the first time in eight days: Bryce Harper. Harper doubled and drove in one of the Nationals' three runs during a first-inning outburst, staking his team to an early 3-1 lead over the Braves on a sweltering afternoon in the District. Sidelined for five games and seven days with a neck injury, Harper was...
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After late change, Harper will play for first time in eight days

After late change, Harper will play for first time in eight days
Bryce Harper wasn't in the lineup the Nationals initially announced for today's series finale against the Braves, the sixth straight game and eight straight day he would be sidelined with a neck injury. And then about 45 minutes later, Harper suddenly was playing again. The Nationals announced a new lineup, and this time it included Harper. In his first appearance since Aug. 6, the reigning National League MVP will bat third and start in right field. No official explanation has been given yet...
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Game 116 lineups: Nats vs. Braves (Harper starting)

Game 116 lineups: Nats vs. Braves (Harper starting)
It is going to be yet another scorcher today at Nationals Park. And this time they'll be playing under direct sunlight, with temperatures heading into the upper 90s and the heat index approaching 110. (Think these guys might be just a bit eager to head west to the drier, thinner air of Colorado?) Before they can turn their attention to the Rockies and the upcoming road trip, the Nationals have some business to take care of today. They're trying to win the rubber game of their weekend series...
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Treinen seizes opportunity to become fireman out of Nats 'pen

Treinen seizes opportunity to become fireman out of Nats 'pen
Blake Treinen has been through his ups and down over the last two years, offering the Nationals glimpses of his abilities out of the bullpen but too often balancing those out with prolonged periods of inconsistency that left his role undefined. If the last three months are a sign, though, the right-hander may have at last found his place, and the Nats couldn't be happier to have it happen. Over a span of 35 appearances that dates back to May 15, Treinen has posted an 0.84 ERA, allowing just...
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Braves, heat and humidity combine to take down Strasburg

Braves, heat and humidity combine to take down Strasburg
The air temperature was 94 degrees when Stephen Strasburg took the mound this evening at Nationals Park, the heat index 103 (which actually was down seven degrees from a few hours earlier). Heat, humidity and Strasburg have not made for a great combination over the years, and they certainly did not mesh well tonight during what became an 8-5 loss to the Braves on the most uncomfortable evening of the summer. "Obviously, as you can see, I sweat profusely," said the right-hander, who has been...
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Baker hoping for best during 20-game stretch (Nats lose 8-5)

Baker hoping for best during 20-game stretch (Nats lose 8-5)
Dusty Baker wanted his players to enjoy all the days off they've had recently, because he knows they won't be getting any more for quite some time. The Nationals tonight open a stretch of 20 consecutive days with games on the schedule, a three-week span that includes parts of two homestands and parts of two road trips. This after the Nats just had three of the previous eight days off. It's not exactly an ideal scenario for a ballclub, or for a manager trying to navigate his club through the...
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Harper still sidelined as nature of injury is questioned

Harper still sidelined as nature of injury is questioned
Bryce Harper once again is not in the Nationals lineup, and there doesn't seem to be any more clarity to what exactly is keeping the struggling slugger from playing. Or when he'll be ready to return. The Nationals continue to refer to Harper's ailment as a "stiff neck," with manager Dusty Baker also mentioning a recurring "spasm." But late this afternoon, Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci reported that Harper "has been playing through a right shoulder injury for the past two months,"...
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Game 114 lineups: Nats vs. Braves

Game 114 lineups: Nats vs. Braves
It's now Day 6 of the Bryce Harper Stiff Neck Watch, and the end result is the same: He's not in the lineup. You've got to think the Nationals are reaching a critical point in this process. If they can't be certain Harper is on the verge of returning, they're going to have to consider the disabled list. Tonight's series opener against the Braves features Stephen Strasburg on the mound, seeking his 16th victory. He'll be attempting to do that in some of the most extreme weather conditions...
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On Saturday's starter, and other roster machinations

On Saturday's starter, and other roster machinations
Stephen Strasburg is pitching tonight's series opener for the Nationals against the Braves. Tanner Roark is pitching Sunday. Which leaves Saturday's starter as the always mysterious "TBA." At least, officially, that's what the Nats are saying. All signs, however, point to Reynaldo Lopez making the start. The right-hander is scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Syracuse, so he's already properly lined up. Why are the Nationals going to call up one of their prospects now when the schedule allows...
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Thursday morning Nats Q&A

Thursday morning Nats Q&A
This is a particularly strange portion of the Nationals schedule. They've had three of the last eight days off. They just played their second two-game interleague series against the Indians. Now they prepare to play 20 consecutive days before getting another break, after the calendar has already turned to September. Through it all, the Nats haven't let up. They enter the day 21 games over .500, holding a 7 1/2-game lead over the Marlins and a 10-game lead over the Mets in the National League...
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Rediscovering his old approach, Werth produces for Nats again

Rediscovering his old approach, Werth produces for Nats again
Jayson Werth long ago figured out what kind of hitter he was. He may have the physique of a slugger, but deep down he's a table-setter, a guy who's at his best when he works the count, takes his walks, prolongs at-bats and ultimately does whatever he needs to do to get on base. At various points along the way, managers and hitting coaches have suggested to Werth that he try a more aggressive approach, that he try to drive the ball more and not let himself get into bad counts. That, though,...
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Nationals' bats finally come alive in 7-4 victory over Indians

Nationals' bats finally come alive in 7-4 victory over Indians
On a blistering hot afternoon when they needed production from their erratic and injury-depleted lineup, the Nationals got just what they ordered. Jayson Werth's three-run homer highlighted the Nats' best offensive performance of this homestand, propelling them to a 7-4 victory over the Indians and a split of their brief, two-game interleague series. Werth homered, doubled and walked, extending his league-best streak of consecutive games reaching base to 40. Daniel Murphy, Wilson Ramos and...
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Ball flying on scorching afternoon in D.C. (Nationals win 7-4)

Ball flying on scorching afternoon in D.C. (Nationals win 7-4)
The heat index was 102 degrees when the Nationals took the field at 4:05 p.m. today for their series finale against the Indians. Is it any surprise the ball is flying out of the park? Jayson Werth and Francisco Lindor each have clubbed home runs in the game's first three innings, with a couple other doubles off the wall by the Indians, who have rallied to leave things tied 4-4 on a scorching hot day in the District. Werth launched a three-run homer into the left field bullpen in the bottom of...
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The latest on Harper's injury and the domino effect it has

The latest on Harper's injury and the domino effect it has
The Nationals hoped Bryce Harper would be back in the lineup by now, not forced to sit out three straight games with a stiff neck. But with the slumping slugger still less than 100 percent healthy, and with another day off for the club following today's series finale with the Indians, there didn't appear to be much reason to push Harper back into action quite yet. "We have an off-day tomorrow, which is a blessing, so why should we risk going backwards today if we've got tomorrow off and we...
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Game 113 lineups: Nats vs. Indians

Game 113 lineups: Nats vs. Indians
It's going to be a scorcher this afternoon when the Nationals and Indians wrap up their brief, two-game series with a late-afternoon start on South Capitol Street. Temperatures are going to top 90 degrees, and the humidity is off the charts, as well. So if you've got tickets, take all the necessary precautions. After losing 3-1 last night, the Nationals will try to rediscover their lost offensive production, though they'll again have to do it with a depleted lineup. Bryce Harper is out for...
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Offensive production has gone silent during homestand

Offensive production has gone silent during homestand
When the Nationals returned home from a long road trip last week, they did so hoping for a sustained surge of offense that began during a three-game sweep in Arizona. Turns out that series against the Diamondbacks (and their weak pitching staff) wasn't the beginning of anything, except a return to the offensive struggles that have plagued the Nats more routinely this season. They did score five runs Friday night in a win over the Giants. But they've proceeded to score one run in each of three...
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