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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

Ramos’ clutch hit lifts Nationals to 2-1 win, sweep in Philly

PHILADELPHIA - Gio Gonzalez turned in one of his best starts of the season, Jayson Werth homered once again at Citizens Bank Park and Wilson Ramos delivered yet another clutch hit to lead the Nationals to a 2-1 victory tonight and a series sweep over the Phillies. Ramos’ two-out RBI single to right in the top of the seventh broke a 1-1 deadlock and gave

Werth becomes team’s fifth 20-homer hitter (Nats win 2-1)

PHILADELPHIA - Thanks to yet another Jayson Werth home run at Citizens Bank Park, the Nationals have themselves yet another 20-homer guy on the roster. Werth launched a titanic blast to straightaway center field in the top of the first tonight, sending Phillies left-hander Adam Morgan’s pitch over the batter’s eye and into a camera well. The drive, which measured 453 feet according to Statcast,

Turner gets rare day off, now prepares for home stretch

PHILADELPHIA - When Trea Turner led off for the Nationals on July 30 in San Francisco, little did he know it would be more than a month before he would get his next day off. Not that the rookie is complaining about all the playing time he has been getting ever since. “No, I usually never have (days off), because even when I don’t start

Game 133 lineups: Nats at Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - The end of the Nationals’ stretch of 20 games in 20 days has arrived, with one more game to play tonight against the Phillies before they’ll enjoy their first off-day since Aug. 11. This has been a long, difficult stretch for many players, perhaps none more so than Trea Turner, who has started 29 consecutive games. That streak ends tonight, though, with Turner

Marathon stretch finally ending for weary Nationals

PHILADELPHIA - It began way back on Aug. 12, with a weekend series against the Braves at Nationals Park. Bryce Harper was still on the bench, nursing a nagging neck injury. Ryan Zimmerman was still on the disabled list, a full week away from returning to the active roster. Stephen Strasburg was healthy. Trea Turner was hitting only .286. Jayson Werth still had six games

Scherzer makes everyone dream of something special again

PHILADELPHIA - This is what it has come to, what Max Scherzer has done to our longstanding sense of baseball and how typically not to get too excited too soon about the possibility of history. Two innings into tonight’s 3-2 Nationals victory at Citizens Bank Park, only two measly innings into this one, you couldn’t help but think to yourself: Scherzer might just throw a

Nationals ride another Scherzer gem to 3-2 victory in Philly

PHILADELPHIA - Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Max Scherzer carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning tonight at Citizens Bank Park, only to have it broken up on a double down the right field line by Freddy Galvis. It happened last summer. And it happened again tonight, with the pesky Phillies shortstop spoiling another one of Scherzer’s attempts to make history with

Scherzer’s strikeout total continues to soar (Nationals win 3-2)

PHILADELPHIA - There’s still a long way to go, and who knows what could happen between now and season’s end. But if Max Scherzer can keep doing what he’s been doing up to this point, he’s going to wind up in some elite company. Especially in the strikeout department. Scherzer entered tonight’s game against the Phillies with a league-leading 227 strikeouts in 182 innings. And

Rehab updates on Drew and Strasburg

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals have understood all along that Stephen Drew’s recovery from an inner ear ailment would have no set timetable. The veteran infielder would simply start to feel well enough at some point to resume playing. By all accounts, he’s nearing that point. Drew has ramped up his baseball activities over the last two days, taking batting practice and fielding grounders with the

Game 132 lineups: Nats at Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - Max Scherzer has faced the Phillies seven times over the last two years. In those seven starts, he’s 5-0 with a 1.94 ERA, 55 strikeouts and 10 walks. Needless to say, the Nationals have fair reason to expect more good things tonight when Scherzer takes the mound at Citizens Bank Park. Dusty Baker has his entire regular lineup out there for the second

Robinson making the most of his rare opportunities

PHILADELPHIA - Dusty Baker constantly talks about how hard it is for players to be productive off the bench in the big leagues, how the lack of consistent at-bats makes it difficult to find a rhythm, even when there are rare opportunities to start games and step to the plate four or five times in one night. Which perhaps makes Clint Robinson’s performance of late

Roark is dominant yet again in Nats’ win over Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - Ask a bunch of people around baseball - players, coaches, managers, executives, scouts, media members - for a list of the best pitchers in the National League, and you’re likely to get several recurring names: Kershaw, Arrieta, Scherzer, Strasburg, Bumgarner, Cueto, Lester, Syndergaard, Fernandez. All, of course, are excellent pitchers, all deserving of the recognition they receive. But how many voters are including

Nationals ride early offense, then Roark to 4-0 win in Philly

PHILADELPHIA - While their offense remains very much in hit-or-miss mode, the Nationals at least know they can still count on Tanner Roark to deliver a big-time start when they most need one. The Nationals scored two quick runs off the Phillies tonight, then sat back and watched as Roark and the bullpen took care of the rest, tossing a combined shutout during what became

Zimmerman gets day off to work in cage (Nationals win 4-0)

PHILADELPHIA - Dusty Baker planned to give Ryan Zimmerman his share of days off down the stretch, regardless of the veteran’s performance. So the fact Zimmerman was not in the Nationals lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Phillies wasn’t a shock. Baker, though, didn’t want Zimmerman to take the day off altogether. No, the two spent considerable time (along with other members of the

Strasburg, Ross progressing toward September returns

PHILADELPHIA - It has taken a while, and it has included a few more bumps than they would have liked, but the Nationals have reached the final leg of their 20-games-in-20-days stretch. That also means they’ve almost reached September and the home stretch of a season they hope to continue well into October. Make no mistake, the Nationals are well aware of all this. “You

Game 131 lineups: Nats at Phils (Taylor up, Giolito optioned)

PHILADELPHIA - Hello from Citizens Bank Park, where the Nationals wrap up this 20-games-in-20-days stretch with one final series against the Phillies. And there’s plenty going on here already. The Nats have made a roster move: Michael A. Taylor was recalled and Lucas Giolito was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. That gives the team a full bench again. With an off-day Thursday, the club can afford

Gonzalez on win No. 100, Harper and Werth on surging lineup

Rain in Colorado prevented it from happening in his first attempt. Then an erratic performance in Atlanta prevented it from happening in his next attempt. Fortunately for Gio Gonzalez, the third time was the charm in his pursuit of 100 career wins, thanks to one of the left-hander’s better starts in a while and some much-appreciated run support from his teammates during an 8-5 victory

Lineup gives Gonzalez plenty of support for 100th career win

Gio Gonzalez kept giving back the leads his teammates provided, but the Nationals kept providing enough run support until the left-hander settled down and then handed the game over to his bullpen, which finished off an 8-5 victory over the Rockies. Gonzalez, who allowed two runs and four hits over six innings, earned his 100th career win. Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy homered for the

Howard calls induction into Nats Ring of Honor “a real thrill”

For a generation of Washington baseball fans, there always has been no bigger figure in this town than Frank Howard. And that’s only in part because of Hondo’s 6-foot-7 frame. Howard has long been remembered as by far the best to ever play for the expansion version of the Senators that called D.C. home from 1961-71. He wasn’t good enough to merit serious consideration for

Barrett determined to make full recovery from “traumatic” injury

The road to recovery from Tommy John surgery is long and lonely, and tests the mind just as much as it tests the reconstructed elbow of a pitcher. Aaron Barrett was far down that road in late July, a full 11 months removed from his surgery and fully confident he’d be ready to pitch in a big league game for the Nationals after only one

Game 128 lineups: Nats vs. Rockies

After the excitement and drama of the four-day, two-city Beltways Series, the Nationals get back to business this weekend with the Rockies in town. Max Scherzer saved the bullpen last night with his dominant eight-inning performance. But in order to keep that bullpen from getting burned up again, Gio Gonzalez will need to follow up his rotation mate with a strong start of his own

Rzepczynski thrilled to join Nationals after whirlwind day

Marc Rzepczynski was taking a nap in Northern California when he was startled to find out he’d just been traded from the Athletics to the Nationals. Not upset, mind you, because he was suddenly heading from a last-place club to a first-place club for the final six weeks of a pennant race. But the veteran left-hander’s life was suddenly being uprooted, and his new team

Scherzer shows he’s “the guy” in latest dominant performance

Jose Lobaton doesn’t get very many opportunities to catch Max Scherzer. He’s only been behind the plate with the Nationals’ $210 million right-hander eight times in two seasons. But, boy, does he savor those opportunities, especially when they come in particularly big games like tonight’s 4-0 win over the Orioles. “He’s in the moment,” Lobaton said. “He wants to show that he’s the guy. I

Scherzer piling up strikeouts again (Nationals win 4-0)

Max Scherzer strikes out a lot of batters but gives up lots of homers. The Orioles lineup strikes out a lot but hits a lot of homers. Which makes for an intriguing matchup tonight in the finale of the Beltway Series at Nationals Park. One that so far is being dominated by Scherzer. The Nationals ace has retired the first nine Baltimore batters he’s faced,

Rzepczynski available to pitch tonight, Lopez optioned to Triple-A

Marc Rzepczynski has arrived in Washington. And apparently traffic was light enough getting into town from Dulles that the newly acquired reliever has made it to Nationals Park in time to be eligible for tonight’s game. “There’s a chance,” manager Dusty Baker said earlier this afternoon, perhaps underestimating how difficult it typically is to make that 30-mile drive into town during rush hour. Turns out

Game 127 lineups: Nats vs. Orioles

The Nationals didn’t expect to find themselves in this position, needing to beat the Orioles tonight to avoid a four-game sweep, but here they are nonetheless. They’ll ask Max Scherzer to stop the bleeding and give this team the dominant start it so desperately needs. No word yet if the newly acquired Marc Rzepczynski - I’m getting good at spelling his name without having to

Nats acquire lefty Rzepczynski from A’s for infielder Schrock

Desperate for left-handed relief after Felipe Rivero was traded, Sammy Solis was injured and Oliver Perez was ineffective, the Nationals have acquired veteran Marc Rzepczynski from the Athletics for minor league infielder Max Schrock. The trade also includes cash coming from the A’s to the Nationals to cover some of the roughly $600,000 Rzepczynski is still owed this season. Rzepczynski - his name is pronounced

Turner matches franchise record with 8-for-8 streak

Trea Turner knew he had gone 8-for-8 over the last two nights - “I mean, if you don’t, you’re lying,” he said. “Everyone thinks about it.” - but he didn’t know he had tied a franchise record in the process. Not until Turner went back to watch video of his final at-bat of Wednesday night’s game, his ninth-inning strikeout, did he see a graphic on

Nats stuck in losing streak, but encouraged by near-historic ninth

They came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth at the end of a miserable night during a miserable week during which it has felt like they’ve been fighting an uphill battle every step of the way. Three quick outs and the Nationals’ fourth straight defeat would be in the books, a second straight lopsided loss to the Orioles. It didn’t quite happen

Roark is latest starting pitcher to labor (Nationals lose 10-8)

For all their pitching struggles and overuse in the last two weeks, the Nationals had to at least take solace knowing one of their most reliable starters would be on the mound tonight: Tanner Roark. Then Roark took the mound and picked up where the rest of the Nationals pitching staff left off. And that’s not a good thing. Roark labored mightily through his first

Cole slated to start Saturday, but Giolito available this weekend

The Nationals plan to keep A.J. Cole and have him start Saturday night against the Rockies, but manager Dusty Baker said that plan remains tentative and Lucas Giolito will be available to rejoin the big league rotation this weekend if needed. Pressed into emergency duties Monday when Stephen Strasburg had to be placed on the disabled list with a sore elbow, Cole impressed in only

Game 126 lineups: Nats vs. Orioles

The Beltways Series has moved down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway - has anyone ever pointed out you don’t need to take either town’s beltway to drive from one ballpark to the other? - for the next two nights. The Nationals can only hope the results improve from the last two nights at Camden Yards. The good news: Tanner Roark and Max Scherzer take the mound for

What’s the state of the Nats pitching staff tonight?

BALTIMORE - The Nationals have spent the better part of a week trying to get their bullpen back in order. Just when it looked they had done it, they were forced to cobble together yet another game Tuesday night, needing 5 1/3 innings from their relief corps after starter Reynaldo Lopez was bumped early. It could have been a lot worse, though. Matt Belisle (three

Lopez reverts to earlier form in 8-1 loss to Orioles

BALTIMORE - There’s no denying Reynaldo Lopez’s electric stuff, and that stuff’s ability to be successful against big league hitters. But at the moment, there’s also no denying Lopez’s inability to have success against anybody other than the worst team in baseball. The Nationals rookie has now made five major league starts. He’s 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA against the Braves, a team currently on

Only replay can catch Turner trying to steal (Nats lose 8-1)

BALTIMORE - Apparently, the only way Trea Turner can be called out trying to steal a base is via slow motion replay. Turner twice tonight has had stolen bases wiped out by replay challenges, a pair of disappointing outs that have contributed to snuffing out potential Nationals rallies and helped leave them in an early deficit against the Orioles. Turner led off the game with

Ross throws off mound, ready to ramp up workload again

BALTIMORE - Joe Ross threw off a bullpen mound today, the right-hander’s first such throwing session in three weeks, and finally appears ready to ramp up his rehab in an attempt to rejoin the Nationals’ rotation for the stretch run. Ross, out since July 3 with right shoulder inflammation, threw roughly 25-to-30 pitches off the mound in the visitors’ bullpen at Camden Yards this afternoon

Game 125 lineups: Nats at Orioles

BALTIMORE - It’s another beautiful day here at Camden Yards, a far cry from the heat and humidity everyone has been dealing with for weeks. The Nationals and Orioles return for the second of their four head-to-head games this week, the Nats needing a win tonight to even up the series after last night’s 4-3 loss. Reynaldo Lopez gets the start, and if the rookie

Espinosa snaps out of long funk with first homer in 50 days

BALTIMORE - It’s been a long summer for Danny Espinosa, one that began with perhaps the best sustained stretch of his career but then devolved into another prolonged slump that made the earlier success feel like ancient history. Back on July 3, the Nationals shortstop was in the middle of what must have felt like a dream: A weekend series against the Reds that included

Cole makes the most of a tough situation, impresses Nats

BALTIMORE - A.J. Cole didn’t expect to be summoned to Atlanta on Thursday and be available to pitch for the Nationals out of the bullpen in case of emergency. So when his services weren’t needed and he headed back north to Pawtucket, R.I., to rejoin Triple-A Syracuse, the right-hander figured he wouldn’t be seeing a big league mound again for a while. Baseball, of course,

Cole sharp early, but Orioles get him in 4th (Nats lose 4-3)

BALTIMORE - A.J. Cole was doing his best Stephen Strasburg impersonation early tonight, but then the rookie right-hander ran into an Orioles lineup that has caused trouble for far more advanced pitchers this season. Cole surrendered a solo homer to Jonathan Schoop in the bottom of the third, then a two-run shot to Mark Trumbo in teh bottom of the fourth, leaving the Nationals in

Strasburg, Nationals describe DL stint as precautionary

BALTIMORE - Stephen Strasburg didn’t think the stiff elbow he’s been experiencing lately was significant enough to keep him from pitching tonight, but the Nationals told their ace right-hander not to chance it, preferring to have him make what they hope will be a brief stint on the disabled list before returning for the stretch run. “They thought it was best interest to let it

Game 124 lineups: Nats at Orioles

BALTIMORE - Well, tonight’s opener of the annual Beltways Series has an entirely new and unexpected storyline, huh? If you missed the news earlier, the Nationals have placed Stephen Strasburg on the disabled list with right elbow soreness and recalled A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse to start tonight in his place. We will certainly be getting more information shortly, but first some background to the

Nats place Strasburg on DL, recall Cole to start tonight

The month of August hasn’t been kind to Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg. A 1-3 record and an ERA north of 10 has put a bit of a damper on an otherwise tremendous 2016 season for the right-hander. Now, unfortunately, the 28-year-old must battle another setback. The Nationals announced Monday they have placed Strasburg on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow soreness, retroactive to August

What was behind the Nats’ surprisingly poor defense in Atlanta?

ATLANTA - The Nationals, for the vast majority of the season, have been a stellar defensive club, ranking among the best in baseball in most fielding categories. So what in the world happened this weekend? The Nationals booted, dropped and threw away the ball at Turner Field, committing nine errors (five of them alone during Sunday’s 10-inning loss) that led to seven unearned runs over

Nats pitching staff still running on fumes after long week

ATLANTA - There are battles worth fighting, and then there are days when the long-term picture must take precedence. The Nationals found themselves at the convergence of those two scenarios this afternoon at Turner Field, and though they battled to an extent in an attempt to beat the Braves, they weren’t necessarily devastated when they ultimately lost 7-6 on Jace Peterson’s 10th-inning homer, sparing their

Pitching staff, defense falter in Nats’ 10-inning loss to Braves

ATLANTA - They tried to overcome some of their ugliest defensive play of the season and a cobbled-together bullpen, but the Nationals couldn’t pull off one more victory at Turner Field to complete a series sweep, and instead were left to stew over a 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Braves at the end of a long week of baseball. Leading by three runs in the

Turner proving to be more than “speed guy” (Nats lose 7-6 in 10)

ATLANTA - The Nationals made the decision to make Trea Turner their everyday leadoff hitter because of his ability to get on base and then let his legs do the rest. Nearly a month into the experiment, they’re learning there’s a lot more to Turner’s game, including some legitimate power potential. Turner enters today’s series finale against the Braves sporting not only a .319 batting

Game 123 lineups: Nats at Braves

ATLANTA - It’s another steamy day at Turner Field, with (of course) a chance for rain this afternoon as the Nationals and Braves wrap up their four-game series. The Nats, who are already 11-1 against Atlanta this season, are going for a rare, four-game sweep. Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth are getting the day off. For Rendon, it’s his first since July 19. He had

Bullpen running on fumes, with no break in sight

ATLANTA - Stretches of 20 consecutive games, particularly at this juncture of the season, are taxing on everybody on a ballclub, but the effect probably is most noticeable on a bullpen. And it’s quite noticeable on the Nationals’ bullpen right now. Nine days into their 20-days-without-a-break stretch, Nats relievers look, at times, like they’re just trying to hang on and survive. They have pitched a

Nationals surviving tough stretch thanks to resurgent lineup

ATLANTA - The notion of the dog days of August can be a tired cliché, but sometimes there is truth to it. The Nationals certainly understand what it means right now, nine days into a stretch of 20 consecutive game days with no break, the heat and humidity and cross-country travel adding even more challenges to an already difficult schedule. Make no mistake, the Nationals

Nationals ride eight-run inning to 11-9 win over Braves

ATLANTA - Buoyed by the return of Ryan Zimmerman from the disabled list, the fully healthy Nationals lineup put together its most productive inning of the season tonight, riding an eight-run top of the fourth to an 11-9 win over the Braves. Zimmerman, playing his first game in nearly three weeks since suffering a bruised left wrist, homered on the first pitch he saw and

Homer for Zimmerman on first swing off DL (Nationals win 11-9)

ATLANTA - It took all of one pitch for Ryan Zimmerman to hit the virtual reset button on his difficult season. Returning to the lineup after a three-week stint on the disabled list with a bruised left wrist, Zimmerman smoked the first pitch he saw tonight over the left field wall. The 394-foot laser off rookie right-hander Tyrell Jenkins left his bat at 111 mph

Back from latest injury, Zimmerman tries to hit reset button

ATLANTA - Ryan Zimmerman has returned from injuries before. Too many times in recent years for his tastes. He has always done so hoping to pick up where he left off before he landed on the disabled list. This time, manager Dusty Baker wants the veteran first baseman to think differently about his return. He doesn’t want him to pick up where he left off.

Game 122 lineups: Nats at Braves (Zimmerman activated)

ATLANTA - They’re not 100 percent healthy, but the Nationals are getting closer. And for the first time in a while, they’ve got a fully healthy lineup at their disposal. That’s because Ryan Zimmerman has been activated off the disabled list (as has Jose Lobaton, for that matter). A.J. Cole and Pedro Severino were optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to clear roster space for both returning

On Werth’s streak, Revere’s catch and Glover’s odd win

ATLANTA - Some more thoughts and reactions from Friday night’s wild 7-6 Nationals win at Turner Field ... * It was never going to be the kind of streak that drew national headlines or would be recalled by people at the drop of the hat years from now, so Jayson Werth didn’t put more stock in it than it deserved. Still, the end of the

Robinson finds hole in infield to tear up Braves’ hearts

ATLANTA - Consistent at-bats are hard to come by when you’re Clint Robinson. And it’s only going to get harder when Ryan Zimmerman returns from the disabled list Saturday, leaving Robinson to pick up an occasional start at first base and then hope to make the most of his pinch-hitting opportunities. Nights like this, though, remind the Nationals (and perhaps Robinson himself) why he’s so

Nats blow late lead, but Robinson delivers hit to secure 7-6 win

ATLANTA - They made it much more complicated than it needed to be, blowing a five-run lead with poor relief pitching and poor defense, but the Nationals managed to overcome their gaffes and still squeak out a 7-6 victory over the Braves tonight at Turner Field. Clint Robinson delivered a two-out RBI single through the left side of the infield in the top of the

Solis diagnosed with shoulder inflammation (Nationals win 7-6)

ATLANTA - Tests on injured reliever Sammy Solis revealed inflammation in the left-hander’s shoulder, the same as the Nationals’ initial diagnosis earlier this week when Solis was placed on the disabled list. There is no definitive timetable for Solis’ return, but he should be cleared to resume throwing after a brief period of rest, and the Nationals remain hopeful he’ll be part of their bullpen

Zimmerman on MLB’s exoneration and planned return from DL

ATLANTA - Ryan Zimmerman hoped to play in tonight’s game against the Braves. Instead, the Nationals first baseman settled for discussing how he has been cleared of any alleged drug use by Major League Baseball and how he now hopes to return to the field Saturday night after his latest stint on the disabled list. Zimmerman said he wasn’t surprised by today’s announcement that MLB

Game 121 lineups: Nats at Braves

ATLANTA - The Nationals look to make it two in a row tonight against the Braves, but they’ll do so without the league’s leading hitter or their veteran first baseman in the starting lineup. Daniel Murphy gets a rare (but deserved) night off. That’s not a huge surprise. But the lack of Ryan Zimmerman in the lineup is a surprise, given that Dusty Baker yesterday

Nats reacquire Burnett, could use lefty in bullpen for stretch run

ATLANTA - The Nationals have reacquired Sean Burnett and could give the veteran left-hander a chance to pitch out of their bullpen down the stretch, four years after he last donned a curly W cap for a big league game. Burnett has been acquired in a trade with the Twins for cash considerations and will report to Triple-A Syracuse today, the Chiefs announced, but he

MLB clears Zimmerman of PED use alleged in Al Jazeera report

ATLANTA - Major League Baseball has cleared Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman of any violations of the league’s drug program, announcing today no evidence of wrongdoing was found during an investigation prompted by Al Jazeera America’s controversial report of steroid use in professional sports earlier this year. MLB also cleared Phillies slugger Ryan Howard of the same allegations, made by pharmacist Charlie Sly in the

Friday morning Q&A from Atlanta

ATLANTA - There remains much baseball yet to be played - 41 games, to be exact - but the Nationals are sitting in an awfully comfortable position this morning. They’re 9 1/2 games up on the Marlins in the National League East, with a 99.4 percent chance of winning the division (according to Baseball Prospectus). That doesn’t, however, mean there aren’t still questions facing this

Lopez finds his inner “caged animal” in dominant start

ATLANTA - Reynaldo Lopez, to anyone who meets or watches him for a few minutes, is a quiet young man. Inside that calm veneer, however, is a 22-year-old pitcher who wants to take on the world and exudes the confidence necessary to do just that. Consider Lopez’s reply to a question following tonight’s 8-2 Nationals victory over the Braves, one in which the rookie right-hander

Lopez tosses much-needed gem as Nats beat Braves 8-2

ATLANTA - Salvation for the Nationals’ overtaxed pitching staff came not from either of their aces, nor from an established big leaguer. No, when the Nats really needed a big-time pitching performance tonight, they turned to a 22-year-old flamethrower making his fourth career start. Reynaldo Lopez overwhelmed the Braves for the better part of seven innings, striking out 11 while allowing only one earned run,

With velocity back, Cole returns to majors (Nationals win 8-2)

ATLANTA - There is probably some irony in the fact that A.J. Cole made his first appearance in a big league clubhouse of the season at Turner Field, the site of his first career big league appearance, and one that did not go particularly well. Few remember the details of Cole’s debut on April 28, 2015, because they were an afterthought by night’s end. The

Zimmerman, Lobaton set to return from DL on Friday

ATLANTA - Ryan Zimmerman and Jose Lobaton are on their way to Atlanta and are expected to be activated off the disabled list in time for Friday night’s game at Turner Field, Nationals manager Dusty Baker said today. Both Zimmerman and Lobaton completed a three-day rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse, emerging with no issues and convincing club officials they’re ready to return. “They’re on the

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

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

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

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,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Little things” cost Scherzer in latest no-hit bid

It has become somewhat commonplace in these parts, and so folks tend not to get overexcited when it happens. Make no mistake, though, Dusty Baker knew what was going on with Max Scherzer, just as every one of the 30,978 spectators at Nationals Park knew it. “Everybody was thinking it. You were thinking it,” Baker said of Scherzer’s no-hit bid against the Indians. “Because he

Scherzer loses no-hitter, then 3-1 game to Cleveland

Max Scherzer made yet another run at history on the mound, but a quick flurry of events in the top of the seventh combined with a lack of run support from his teammates left the right-hander and the Nationals to stew over a 3-1 loss to the Indians on a night that appeared to be headed for a much happier conclusion. Scherzer held Cleveland hitless

Scherzer strikes out 200 for fifth straight year (Nats lose 3-1)

Only a select few major league pitchers surpass the 200-strikeout mark each season. Max Scherzer just got there on Aug. 9, with nearly two more months to add to that total. Scherzer hit the magical 200-strikeout number tonight with a third-inning punch-out of Indians catcher Roberto Perez. It’s the fifth straight season the Nationals right-hander has done it, a feat duplicated only by Felix Hernandez,

Harper sits again with stiff neck, return uncertain

Bryce Harper’s stiff neck, which forced him from the Nationals game three days ago, is still preventing the struggling slugger from playing tonight. Harper is out of the lineup for the Nationals’ series opener against the Indians, a somewhat surprising development given the way he and the team downplayed the significance of the injury when it first became public Saturday night. “It’s the same thing,”

Game 112 lineups: Nats vs. Indians

The Nationals are back to work tonight, hosting the Indians in the opener of a two-game interleague series, the second half of their head-to-head matchup that included two games in Cleveland a couple weeks ago. The two clubs split that series at Progressive Field, but only because of Jonathan Papelbon’s blown save in the opener. Obviously, things have changed a bit since then. Max Scherzer,

Does Ramos deserve to be in NL MVP discussion?

We’re just about getting to that point in the season when we can start seriously talking about the major awards, and the Nationals are almost certainly going to find themselves smack in the middle of these debates. Daniel Murphy is an obvious candidate for National League MVP, perhaps even the favorite with two months to go. Stephen Strasburg is a contender for the NL Cy

Was Guzman-for-Roark the best trade of Rizzo’s career?

That Tanner Roark has established himself as one of the best starting pitchers in baseball is remarkable enough, given the right-hander’s path to this point: a 25th-round pick in the 2008 draft who didn’t make his major league debut until he was nearly 27. That the Nationals acquired this elite pitcher and rotation anchor from the Rangers six years ago in exchange for the final

Roark further establishes his pedigree with another gem

When the Nationals tweaked their rotation prior to this weekend’s series, casual observers noted today’s series finale against the Giants would no longer feature a showdown between Stephen Strasburg and Madison Bumgarner. This news was, to many, a downer. Those who have watched the Nationals closely all season, though, know the man who wound up starting today’s game has been every bit as reliable and

Roark outduels Bumgarner, Ramos homers in 1-0 victory

They didn’t have Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer at their disposal to face Madison Bumgarner. They had Tanner Roark, who right now is just as good. Roark outdueled Bumgarner during a tense pitchers’ duel, then cheered from the dugout as Wilson Ramos homered off the Giants ace in the bottom of the seventh and the new-look back end of the Nationals bullpen closed out an

Harper out of lineup with stiff neck (Nationals win 1-0)

The stiff neck that forced Bryce Harper to depart Saturday night’s game early is keeping him out of the Nationals lineup today for their series finale against the Giants. Harper had started 101 of the Nationals’ first 110 games this season, dealing only with an occasional day off and minor injuries. He doesn’t sound concerned that this issue is anything serious, though he admitted it

Game 111 lineups: Nats vs. Giants

Bryce Harper is not in today’s lineup for the Nationals. That shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, given the fact Harper left last night’s game after six innings with a stiff neck he said has been bothering him for several days. Combine that with his ongoing struggles at the plate and the presence of Madison Bumgarner on the mound today for the Giants, and this

Werth’s streak reaching base reaches MLB-best 37 games

It doesn’t receive the fanfare a hitting streak does, but Jayson Werth’s streak of consecutive games reaching base deserves some attention. Especially now that the Nationals veteran has reached base in more consecutive games than any other major leaguer this season. With a fifth-inning walk during Saturday night’s loss to the Giants, Werth kept the streak alive. He has now reached base in 37 straight

Strasburg beaten up by Giants, Harper banged up and departs

The Nationals’ 7-1 loss to the Giants tonight most likely won’t be remembered for much by season’s end, lost among the handful of duds this otherwise very good team has played in 2016. We won’t remember that Matt Cain held them scoreless for five innings despite putting 10 men on base, or that Jonathan Papelbon served up a second-deck homer to Brandon Belt in garbage

Giants pound Strasburg, Nats bullpen in 7-1 trouncing

Stephen Strasburg was done in by the Giants lineup and possibly the D.C. humidity. Bryce Harper might have been done in by something else, appearing to tweak something on a swing and departing tonight’s game after six innings. Needless to say, the Nationals’ 7-1 loss to San Francisco did not go how anyone in the home dugout would have liked. Strasburg was roughed up during

Goodwin stunned by big league promotion (Nationals lose 7-1)

Brian Goodwin always expected he’d get the call. He just didn’t expect it to come when it did, late Saturday night, when the Nationals informed the 25-year-old outfielder he was getting promoted to the big leagues for the first time. “I just kind of blacked out once I heard it,” he said. “I was just excited. Everything I ever dreamed of, everything I worked for.

Zimmerman on the frustration of another DL stint

Seven times in the last six years Ryan Zimmerman has had to take these questions from reporters, seven times explaining why an injury was forcing him to the disabled list and seven times trying not to get frustrated by the situation. As he went through the process again today, after landing back on the DL with a left wrist contusion, Zimmerman admitted it’s starting to

Game 110 lineups: Nats vs. Giants

Is tonight’s game more important than the typical game? Well, it could be. You see, with a win tonight the Nationals would win the season series from the Giants, and that could come into play this fall should the two teams end up tied in the standings. If you think it’s pointless to consider such miniscule possibilities, just know the manager cares about these kinds

Zimmerman lands on DL, Nats recall Goodwin from Syracuse

His left wrist still too sore to play six days after getting hit by a pitch, Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day disabled list this afternoon, with the Nationals promoting outfielder Brian Goodwin from Triple-A Syracuse to take his roster spot. Zimmerman hadn’t been able to play since taking a fastball off his left wrist in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game in San

No saves yet, but Melancon soaks in “special” D.C. debut

At some point, Mark Melancon will come charging out of the Nationals bullpen with his team holding a slim lead and needing him to be perfect in order to save a game. Until then, the Nationals’ new closer will just have to be content closing out lopsided victories. “I think that’s a good thing, that there hasn’t (been a save situation),” he said. “We’re winning.

Gonzalez’s midsummer surge coming just when Nats need it

Gio Gonzalez has been something of the ugly duckling of the Nationals’ rotation much of this summer, unable to keep up with the consistent dominance displayed by Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark. And that’s been fine, because the Nationals have been winning and their rotation as a whole has been among the best in baseball throughout. But with Joe Ross’ return now no

Behind Gonzalez’s strong start, Nats cruise to 5-1 win over Giants

Gio Gonzalez’s midsummer surge continued tonight with perhaps the left-hander’s best start of the season. Combine that with another productive night at the plate from the Nationals’ lineup and the result was their fourth straight win, this one by a 5-1 margin over the Giants to open a long homestand. Gonzalez tossed seven innings of two-hit ball in his latest strong outing - he’s now

Zimmerman out for fourth straight game (Nats win 5-1)

Ryan Zimmerman is out of the Nationals lineup for the fourth straight game, his left wrist still too bruised from the fastball that struck it Sunday afternoon in San Francisco. Zimmerman initially was hopeful he wouldn’t need to miss more than a day or two after getting hit by Santiago Casilla’s pitch in the ninth inning at AT&T Park. He has participated in some drills

Sore shoulder ends Ross’ rehab, Drew has inner ear issue

Joe Ross won’t be rejoining the Nationals’ rotation nearly as soon as initially thought, not after the right-hander was pulled off his rehab assignment due to lingering shoulder soreness. Ross was due to pitch for one of the club’s minor league affiliates this weekend, his third rehab start since going on the disabled list July 3 with right shoulder inflammation, and manager Dusty Baker indicated

Game 109 lineups: Nats vs. Giants

How long has been since the Nationals last played at home? Well, in their most recent game at Nationals Park, Lucas Giolito started and lasted only 3 1/3 innings, Michael A. Taylor started in center field, Jonathan Papelbon took the loss, Trea Turner in center field was in its early experimental phase and the Nats held a 4 1/2-game lead in the National League East.

Nats adjust weekend rotation, will stick with four starters

The Nationals have adjusted their rotation for the weekend, electing to bump everyone up a day, have them pitch on normal rest and skip over the fifth starter’s spot for now. The club had initially left Friday night’s starter against the Giants as “TBD” but now Gio Gonzalez will start the opener at Nationals Park, with Stephen Strasburg on Saturday and Tanner Roark on Sunday. Continue reading ....

Thursday Q&A from 36,000 feet above America

This turned into quite an eventful road trip for the Nationals. It began in Cleveland last week with a blown save by Jonathan Papelbon and a huge escape act by Blake Treinen the next night. It continued in San Francisco over the weekend with dominant performances by Tanner Roark and Max Scherzer, the official yanking of Papelbon from the closer’s role, the acquisition of Mark

Scherzer finishes strong, leads Nats to trip-ending sweep

PHOENIX - Max Scherzer doesn’t like to evaluate his starts by what happens in the first inning, the second inning or just about any inning he takes the mound. For Scherzer, it’s not about how he starts. It’s about how he finishes. “I always say you can usually define your outing by the last 15 pitches that you throw,” the right-hander said. “That’s usually when

Behind Scherzer’s arm and bat, Nats win 8-3 to sweep Arizona

PHOENIX - He pitched eight strong innings, given a chance to stay on the mound longer than most modern starters might, given the situation. And he also delivered the two-run single that proved the margin of difference for most of the game. Needless to say, it was Max Scherzer’s afternoon at Chase Field, and the rest of the Nationals just went along for the ride

Ross won’t return Friday, starter still TBD (Nats win 8-3)

PHOENIX - The Nationals haven’t announced who will start Friday night against the Giants, but it won’t be Joe Ross. Manager Dusty Baker said today that Ross still needs to make another minor league rehab start before coming off the disabled list to face big league hitters. The time and place of that start is still being sorted out. “We’re not sure yet,” Baker said.

Murphy, Strasburg are latest Nationals to win monthly awards

PHOENIX - Two more Nationals players added pieces of hardware to their growing shelves today when Daniel Murphy was named National League Player of the Month and Stephen Strasburg was named NL Pitcher of the Month for July. Murphy, who previously won NL Player of the Month honors in May, hit .372 with 12 doubles, six homers, 26 RBIs and a 1.144 OPS in July,

Game 108 lineups: Nats at Diamondbacks

PHOENIX - The Nationals have already secured a winning road trip. Now they’ll try to sweep the Diamondbacks and head home with a 6-3 record after their long and eventful swing through Cleveland, San Francisco and Arizona. Max Scherzer takes the mound against the club that drafted him way back in 2006. He’s been on quite a run lately: 3-1 with a 1.09 ERA in

Rookies Turner, Difo step in and make big contributions in win

PHOENIX - When the Nationals took the field for batting practice Tuesday afternoon, Trea Turner was expecting to take grounders at second base, where he was scheduled to start. Wilmer Difo was already preparing mentally to come off the bench, perhaps in a key pinch-hitting situation or a double-switch. Then manager Dusty Baker passed along word that Bryce Harper was sick, battling a stomach virus

Nationals bats come alive again in 10-4 rout of Arizona

PHOENIX - Turns out Monday night’s offensive explosion wasn’t a complete aberration for the Nationals, because they nearly duplicated the feat tonight against the Diamondbacks. Wilson Ramos, Chris Heisey and Jayson Werth all clubbed home runs to lead another potent offensive attack, carrying the Nats to a 10-4 victory at Chase Field. Combined with their lopsided win in Monday’s series opener, the Nationals have now

Harper scratched with illness, Zimmerman still out (Nats win 10-4)

PHOENIX - The stomach bug that has been making its way around the Nationals clubhouse over the last two weeks appears to have gotten Bryce Harper now. Harper had to be scratched from tonight’s lineup with an illness, the club announced about an hour before scheduled first pitch against the Diamondbacks. Harper was due to bat third and start in right field, hoping to pick

Williams turns page on Nationals, glad to be back in Arizona

PHOENIX - If there was such a thing as a perfect landing spot for Matt Williams after the disappointing and abrupt conclusion of his tenure as Nationals manager, this was it. Back in Arizona, where he has lived since his playing days, coaching third base for a Diamondbacks organization that has always valued his presence. “It’s great,” Williams said this afternoon, seated in the third

Game 107 lineups: Nats at Diamondbacks (Harper scratched)

PHOENIX - The Nationals lineup exploded for 14 runs on 19 hits (none of them homers) last night in their rout over the Diamondbacks. They certainly didn’t wind up needing that much offense to win the series opener, but Dusty Baker wasn’t concerned about that. “I know a lot of people say, ‘Why don’t you save some runs for tomorrow?’ ” the manager said. “But

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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