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Nationals drop series opener to Brewers (updated)

MILWAUKEE - An uncharacteristically erratic start by Gio Gonzalez was too much for the Nationals to overcome tonight in a series-opening 6-3 loss to the Brewers. With Gonzalez surrendering five runs during six labored innings, the Nationals faced an uphill climb, one made even tougher with Milwaukee starter Zach Davies once again on his game. Davies, who shut out the Nats last month in D.C.,

Baker may not stick with Werth as No. 2 hitter (Nats lose 6-3)

MILWAUKEE - The lineup Dusty Baker scribbled out for tonight’s series opener against the Brewers was as close as he’s going to get to his best-case lineup for the postseason. The only regular missing: Bryce Harper, who may or may not be back to 100 percent in time for October. Notable, then, was Baker’s choice for No. 2 hitter: Jayson Werth. With Trea Turner back

First September call-ups coming; Scherzer to start Saturday

MILWAUKEE - Major league clubs typically use their allotment of September call-ups to get a first look at prospects who may figure into the long-term plan, ensure depth at positions where it’s needed and reward a few guys for great minor league seasons. The Nationals find themselves in a different situation as the calendar flips from August to September. They’ll be expanding their roster not

Game 133 lineups: Nats at Brewers

MILWAUKEE - Hello from Miller Park, where the roof is open and there’s a hint of autumn weather in the air as August comes to an end. The Nationals open a four-game weekend series with the Brewers, who are trying to hang on in the National League Central race while also trying to track down the Rockies for the final wild card berth as an

Strasburg tosses second career shutout, Nats sweep Marlins

Even at his very best, Stephen Strasburg rarely in his career has earned the designation of “workhorse.” The typical Strasburg gem usually ends after seven innings, maybe eight, his pitch count well into triple digits, the Nationals choosing not to risk pushing their star right-hander too far. There have been a couple of instances, though, when Strasburg gave his team no choice but to let

Not yet cleared to run, Harper facing tight time frame to return

It’s been 18 days since Bryce Harper slipped on first base, hurtled awkwardly to the ground and had to be helped back to the dugout at Nationals Park. Eighteen days later, Harper is up and about, walking without a particularly noticeable limp. Which doesn’t mean the star outfielder is anywhere close to returning to the Nationals lineup. Harper revealed today that in addition to the

Game 132 lineups: Nats vs. Marlins

It never entirely feels like Stephen Strasburg is out of the woods from a previous injury, and there will always be those who hold their breath every time the right-hander throws a pitch. But based on what we’ve seen in two starts since his return from his latest elbow injury, he sure does look like he’s 100 percent. Strasburg has been real sharp in both

Albers, Rendon try to balance baseball with families in Houston

For 21 hours each of the last several days, Matt Albers and Anthony Rendon’s minds have been on Houston, on their families and their friends trying to survive through the worst flooding incident their hometown has ever experienced. And then for three hours each day, the two Nationals try everything they can to block out the more important matters at home and concentrate all their

With Turner back, Nats lineup enjoys another big night

The sight of Jayson Werth in the lineup Monday night elicited plenty of smiles from the rest of the Nationals. The sight of Trea Turner in the lineup tonight elicited plenty more. The sight of Bryce Harper in the lineup - whenever that day comes - will elicit the biggest smiles of them all and leave this first-place club feeling as good about itself as

Nationals trounce Marlins again, reduce magic number to 18

Their ace and their veteran outfielder returned Monday night, leading to victory. Their leadoff man and shortstop returned tonight, contributing to victory. The Nationals are looking more and more whole these days, and not surprisingly, the results are reflecting that. With Trea Turner back atop the lineup tonight after a two-month absence, the Nats finally solved pesky Marlins right-hander Vance Worley and put up their

Turner ready to play daily, Difo ready for new role (we’re underway)

Trea Turner could have stayed on rehab in the minors, taking more at-bats in a low-pressure situation and finding his groove before returning to the Nationals lineup. But his fractured right wrist has healed, his body feels equipped to play every day at the big league level and he believes he’s ready to return after a stint on the disabled list of exactly 60 days.

Game 131 lineups: Nats vs. Marlins

The Nationals got a major boost last night from a pair of key players returning from injury, with Max Scherzer dealing on the mound and Jayson Werth homering at the plate. Tonight, they’ll get another boost with the return of Trea Turner from the disabled list. Turner, who has been out exactly 60 days since taking a fastball off his right wrist, is finally good

Jackson on pinch-running and making final out at the plate

Edwin Jackson has been asked to pinch-run enough times before - 13 times in his career, four times since joining the Nationals last month - that by now he knows when to anticipate it. And he knows to be prepared to be thrown into a meaningful game situation. “I like doing it,” the veteran pitcher said. “I like being a part of the game. And

Nats bullpen works overtime to salvage doubleheader split

Dusty Baker spent the season’s first half needing to piece together the final innings of games with a hodgepodge of relievers, seeking anyone available who reasonably could succeed in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. That issue finally was resolved in late July with the acquisitions of Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle, presenting Baker at last with stability at the back end of

Roark piling up strikeouts (and pitches) early (Nats win 5-4)

Tanner Roark is piling up strikeouts early in tonight’s second half of a day-night doubleheader. Unfortunately, he’s also piling up pitches at a rate that could end his night before the Nationals want it to end. Through three scoreless innings against the Mets, Roark already has five strikeouts. The right-hander has allowed only two of the 11 Mets batters he has faced to reach base.

Game 129 lineups: Nats vs. Mets

And we’re back for the nightcap of today’s doubleheader (the Nationals’ third Sunday doubleheader in five weeks, for those joining us late). The Nats need a win over the Mets tonight to avoid a Sunday sweep, to salvage a four-game split of the weekend series and to avoid seeing their lead in the division drop to 11 games before the red-hot Marlins arrive Monday for

Late Mets homer dooms Nats in 6-5 loss to open doubleheader

The Nationals opened their latest Sunday doubleheader with a concerning start from their top pitching prospect, an uplifting rally from their makeshift lineup, a game-deciding home run hit off a veteran reliever who has allowed too many of those this season and then a crazy play to end the game. The end result: a 6-5 loss to the Mets that didn’t have very many satisfying

Sanchez discharged from hospital, Bautista called up

Adrian Sanchez appears to have avoided serious injury or health issues after getting hit in the chest by a fastball during Saturday’s game. Sanchez received a CT scan at a local hospital and was kept overnight to monitor his breathing. He was discharged this morning and is “doing well,” according to a Nationals spokeswoman. The 27-year-old infielder remains on the active roster, though he wasn’t

Game 128 lineups: Nats vs. Mets

Who’s ready for the third Sunday day-night doubleheader at Nationals Park in five weeks? (Don’t all jump at once.) The Nationals have gotten used to this by now, having already played two against the Rockies on July 30, then two against the Giants on Aug. 13. Now they’ll play two against the Mets, with the regularly scheduled opener at 1:35 p.m. and then the makeup

Zimmerman dealing with sore shoulder, won’t play again today

A Nationals lineup already reeling from injuries is without yet another key bat for at least one more day: Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman was unavailable to bat during Friday night’s 4-2 loss to the Mets and won’t be in the lineup again this afternoon for the second game of the series after injuring his left shoulder sliding into the plate during Thursday night’s win in Houston,

Nats’ makeshift lineup can’t complete late rally in 4-2 loss to Mets

With a makeshift lineup, a fill-in starter and an ace on the mound opposite them, the Nationals entered tonight’s series opener against the Mets in a less-than-advantageous position. Sometimes, those seemingly lopsided matchups flip the opposite way and produce memorable and unlikely outcomes. Not this time. This one went according to script. Despite a few dramatic moments late when a last-ditch comeback nearly happened. Despite

Late flight, quick turnaround force lineup changes (Nats lose 4-2)

It was 4:20 p.m., 2 hours and 45 minutes away from first pitch, and Dusty Baker was still in street clothes. A decent number of Baker’s players had yet to arrive in the clubhouse, with reporting time pushed all the way back to 4:45 p.m., much later than normal. Batting practice? That was canceled. Such were the accommodations the Nationals had to make after a

Scherzer throws in bullpen, appears good to return Sunday

Max Scherzer appears to be good to go Sunday against the Mets. Scherzer threw off the bullpen mound at Nationals Park this afternoon, the final step he said was necessary to be able to start a game two days later. The Nationals ace was in full uniform as he threw his bullpen session with pitching coach Mike Maddux alongside, standard practice for all members of

Game 126 lineups: Nats vs. Mets

The Nationals are back home this weekend after a long, eventful (and still successful) road trip through San Diego and Houston. If things went according to plan, Max Scherzer would have been taking the mound tonight to face the Mets. Things didn’t go according to plan, though, and Scherzer has been slower to heal from his second neck injury in a month, now hoping to

Werth, Turner each play five innings in rehab debuts

Jayson Werth and Trea Turner’s paths back to the Nationals lineup began Monday night with three at-bats and five innings in the field a piece in Allentown, Pa. Both injured players made their rehab debuts for Triple-A Syracuse, which opened a three-game road series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and completed their pre-planned workloads with no apparent issues. Werth went 1-for-3 with a single, playing

With injuries ravaging lineup, bullpen finally carrying Nats

SAN DIEGO - Eleven of their players currently reside on the disabled list, including the leading candidate for National League MVP, the leading candidate for the Cy Young Award, last year’s Rookie of the Year runner-up, the franchise’s veteran leader and a key reliever with a 1.68 ERA. Their ace was a late scratch from his scheduled start Friday night, leaving the club with no

Gonzalez goes the extra mile to earn 12th win of the season

SAN DIEGO - Gio Gonzalez walked off the mound after retiring the side in the bottom of the sixth this afternoon. He had put in a full day’s work, throwing 105 pitches and holding the Padres to one unearned run, overcoming some shoddy defense in the first inning to keep his pitch count relatively manageable throughout. Under normal circumstances, Dusty Baker probably would have shaken

Lots of chances, few runs so far in series finale (Nats win 4-1)

SAN DIEGO - The Nationals are fielding something closer to their regular lineup this afternoon at Petco Park, but through four innings the results aren’t any better than what their makeshift lineup produced Saturday night. Despite six walks issued by Padres rookie Dinelson Lamet, the Nationals have managed only one run so far, squandering several opportunities for big innings at the plate. Forced to field

Turner and Werth to begin rehab Monday with Syracuse

SAN DIEGO - Two key injured Nationals regulars are ready to start playing in games again, with a return to the major league roster now likely sometime next week. Both Trea Turner and Jayson Werth will begin rehab assignments with Triple-A Syracuse on Monday, the Nationals announced today. Turner and Werth each had been working out in recent days at the club’s spring training complex

Game 122 lineups: Nats at Padres

SAN DIEGO - It’s another gorgeous day at Petco Park, where the Nationals will attempt to take the finale of this weekend series and head out of town having won three of four against the Padres in advance of a big series later this week in Houston. Daniel Murphy returns to the lineup after being scratched last night. The Nats will hope that helps inject

Looking at how Nats rotation lines up for the next week

SAN DIEGO - It seems like right now the focus for the Nationals is less on what’s happening today and more on what could happen tomorrow and in the next week and the weeks to come after that. Such is life when you’re 14 games up with 41 games to play and have a host of injured players attempting to return in advance of a

Fresh Strasburg is sharp in six-inning return from DL

SAN DIEGO - The Nationals entered tonight’s game at Petco Park with a simple, primary goal: Get Stephen Strasburg through a full start healthy. Not that they didn’t care about trying to beat the Padres as well, but that goal - if they were willing to be honest about it - was secondary to the more pressing matter at hand. This is what happens when

Strasburg gives up early homer, settles in after that (Nats lose 3-1)

SAN DIEGO - Stephen Strasburg is back on the mound pitching for the Nationals, and his arm appears to be healthy. That, quite frankly, matters more at the moment than results. Not that Strasburg has pitched poorly so far in his first start in four weeks. He battled some shaky command in the bottom of the first and served up a two-run homer to Yangervis

Murphy scratched from lineup, Madson still has finger pain

SAN DIEGO - The Nationals announced their starting lineup about 3 1/2 hours before tonight’s game at Petco Park, standard procedure. A few minutes later, they had to announce a change to that lineup, which unfortunately also has become standard procedure for this injury-riddled ballclub. The latest: Daniel Murphy, who was scratched from tonight’s lineup after the second baseman admitted to manager Dusty Baker he’s

Game 121 lineups: Nats at Padres

SAN DIEGO - When Stephen Strasburg departed his July 23 start in Arizona after two innings with a nerve impingement in his elbow and subsequently was placed on the disabled list, the Nationals said they expected the right-hander to miss only one start before returning to the mound in what was deemed a precautionary move. Tonight, 27 days removed from that start, Strasburg finally takes

In a bind, Nationals get a pitching gem from six relievers

SAN DIEGO - The task - getting nine innings out of a menagerie of relievers after Max Scherzer had to be scratched from Friday night’s start - was daunting enough. Dusty Baker simply hoped he could get through this game without burning up his entire pitching staff, let alone actually beat the Padres. But when emergency starter Matt Grace was able to go 4 1/3

Scherzer insists he’ll be ready to start Friday vs. Mets

SAN DIEGO - Max Scherzer has been through this before. Only two weeks ago, as a matter of fact. Which is why the right-hander was massively annoyed but also confident that his inability to start tonight at Petco Park due to inflammation in his neck isn’t cause for major concern. “It’s just frustrating,” he said following the Nationals’ 7-1 win over the Padres, made possible

Grace steps up in emergency start (Nats win 7-1)

SAN DIEGO - Thrust into a less-than-ideal situation tonight, Matt Grace wound up not only surviving but thriving and giving the Nationals everything they could have asked for after Max Scherzer was a late scratch. Forced into an emergency start when Scherzer couldn’t go following a recurrence of the neck injury that knocked him out of a start earlier this month, Grace took the mound

Scherzer scratched, placed on DL with recurring neck injury

SAN DIEGO - Max Scherzer thought his neck troubles were behind him. Turns out they aren’t. And because of it, the Nationals are going to need to ask their bullpen to pitch an entire game tonight. And then someone else to make a start next week. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres after reporting the same problem that forced him out

Game 120 lineups: Nats at Padres (Scherzer scratched)

SAN DIEGO - The last time Max Scherzer faced the Padres, he allowed one run on three hits, struck out 13 and came within one out of a complete-game victory. That was May 26 at Nationals Park, and it was among the ace’s most dominant outings of the season. Now Scherzer gets another crack at the majors’ least productive lineup, taking the mound at Petco

With fewer pitches, Jackson is finding more success

SAN DIEGO - If it’s not the first line of Edwin Jackson’s baseball-playing obituary, it won’t be much farther down from the lede. The most memorable game of Jackson’s career, whenever it’s finally over, almost certainly will be his June 25, 2010 no-hitter with the Diamondbacks. A no-hitter that included eight walks and a staggering 149 pitches. That game, more than any other, has come

Zimmerman’s late blast lifts Nationals to 2-1 win over Padres

SAN DIEGO - A jet-lagged Nationals lineup struggled all night at the plate against the Padres, not only to record hits in their series opener, but simply to make contact. Then one big blast from Ryan Zimmerman made up for all the swings and misses and lifted his team to a late-night victory. Zimmerman’s opposite-field homer in the top of the eighth snapped a longstanding

Jackson minimizing damage early (Nats win 2-1)

SAN DIEGO - Despite putting himself into several jams, Edwin Jackson has managed to minimize the damage so far in tonight’s start at Petco Park. Jackson, on the mound for the Nationals in their series opener against the Padres, has surrendered five hits - including three doubles - through four innings, but has allowed only one run to cross the plate. Jackson pitched around a

Nats principal owner Mark Lerner reveals cancer, leg amputation

SAN DIEGO - Nationals vice chairman and principal owner Mark Lerner, the most visible member of the franchise’s family ownership group, revealed tonight why he has been absent from public view for much of the season: Lerner has been battling cancer in his left leg for months and recently needed to have the limb amputated above the knee. “Thanks very much for your concern and

Madson goes on DL with finger sprain, Kelley activated

SAN DIEGO - Just when the Nationals appeared to have to solved their bullpen woes, one of their recently acquired arms has gone down with an injury. Ryan Madson was placed on the 10-day disabled list today with a sprained right index finger, an injury that is not believed to be serious but will nonetheless sideline the club’s new setup man for the time being.

Game 119 lineups: Nats at Padres (Madson to DL, Kelley activated)

SAN DIEGO - Hello from Petco Park, where it’s a spectacularly perfect day. Shocking, I know, considering we’re in San Diego. The Nationals open a seven-game road trip with the first of four here against the Padres, the undercard I suppose for next week’s series in Houston against an excellent Astros club. The Padres are not excellent; they rank last in the majors, scoring 3.88

Nationals keep winning, despite few actual winning streaks

The Nationals reached a new milestone during Tuesday night’s win over the Angels. They’re now 25 games over .500 for the first time this season. Given the fact the Dodgers were on the verge of moving to a staggering 50 games over .500, the Nationals’ achievement may not sound all that impressive. But considering the injuries they’ve overcome, it’s no small feat. At 71-46, the

With another gem, Gonzalez’s season of dominance continues

He’s done this twice in 16 days now, flirted with something special late in a game he’s started, so it wasn’t unfair to ask Gio Gonzalez when tonight he thought about the fact he had a no-hitter going against the Angels. “Oh god, I’m over that already,” the Nationals left-hander insisted. “No more of that. If I can just manage to keep going into the

Gonzalez cruises, Kendrick homers twice in Nats’ 3-1 win

Gio Gonzalez kept dominating, Howie Kendrick kept homering and the Nationals bullpen kept finishing things off tonight during a 3-1 victory over the Angels. Gonzalez tossed six scoreless innings, failing to give up a hit until there were two outs in his final frame, and continued his standout season with yet another gem. The left-hander now sports an 11-5 record and 2.49 ERA, has gone

Strasburg on track to return Saturday, Turner takes BP on field

Stephen Strasburg appears to be on track to pitch for the Nationals this weekend after a successful rehab start Monday night. And Trea Turner appears to be on track to play shortstop for them not too much longer after that, after taking batting practice on the field this afternoon for the first time since fracturing his wrist. Today’s swath of injury updates on South Capitol

Game 117 lineups: Nats vs. Angels

After a much-deserved day off, the Nationals are back to work tonight, opening a very quick, two-game interleague series with the Angels. What would have been a marquee matchup between Mike Trout and Bryce Harper unfortunately doesn’t carry the same luster anymore, with Harper on the disabled list after injuring his knee Saturday night. So that one head-to-head showdown between the two stars last month

Tuesday morning Nats Q&A

It was quite an eventful weekend on South Capitol Street, between the weather, Bryce Harper’s injury, three games in just over 24 hours, a walk-off grand slam and other assorted developments. The Nationals needed a day off yesterday (and, I suppose, so did some reporters) but everyone’s back to work today, with the Angels coming to town for a quick, two-game series. Before we get

Nats will keep piecing together lineup while waiting for “cavalry”

As he tried to put Bryce Harper’s knee injury into context with the rest of the ailments that have been suffered by the Nationals this summer, Mike Rizzo managed to crack a quick smile with one line. “We’ve got some significant WAR on the disabled list right now,” the general manager said. “And we’re still playing extremely well.” Indeed, the Nationals already had Trea Turner,

Kendrick’s walk-off slam ends Nats’ long day in dramatic style

They played three games in just slightly more than 24 hours, losing their biggest star to injury along the way and needing extra innings at the end of a really long day. After all that, at least the Nationals could say they walked away having won this rapid-fire series against the Giants. With a 6-2, 11-inning victory this evening made possible by Howie Kendrick’s walk-off

Bryce Harper: “If I feel good, I’m going to play”

Bryce Harper’s initial thought when he fell to the ground in heap Friday night? The same as everyone who was watching it in the stadium and on television: He might have suffered a major knee injury to end his season. “Of course, you’re going to think the worst, and I’m one of the worst at it,” Harper admitted this afternoon. “I think I’m going to

Nationals drop opener of doubleheader, 4-2, to Giants

The Nationals may have had their spirits lifted by the news that Bryce Harper’s knee injury is not as serious as they initially feared, but that wasn’t enough to overcome a lack of sleep (or the Giants pitching staff) during today’s doubleheader opener on South Capitol Street. Rookie right-hander Chris Stratton tossed seven scoreless innings, and the Nationals couldn’t mount enough of a rally late

Taylor grateful to return (Nats lose 4-2)

Michael A. Taylor didn’t expect it to take five weeks to return from a strained right oblique muscle. Then again, he also didn’t expect to be summoned back to Washington this morning to replace an injured Bryce Harper. Nevertheless, Taylor found himself boarding a plane in Hartford early this morning bound for Washington, then hitching a quick ride to Nationals Park to be in the

Harper has “significant” bone bruise, may return this season

Bryce Harper suffered a “significant” bone bruise inside his left knee but sustained no ligament or tendon damage, according to Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who said the starting right fielder could return to play before the end of the season. That’s a far more encouraging diagnosis than the Nationals initially feared late Saturday night when they watched Harper’s left leg slip on first base,

Game 115 lineups: Nats vs. Giants

It’s a beautiful day in Washington, D.C. Given everything that happened yesterday, here and nearby, at least we’ve got that. The Nationals and Giants are playing two today, with the original game bumped up to 1:05 p.m. and the makeup of Friday night’s game scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. Which means these teams will, in theory, be playing three games in 24 hours. The

Baker tries to leapfrog Bochy and Piniella on managerial win list

Dusty Baker and Bruce Bochy have been managing against each other for the better part of the last two decades, their careers nearly running parallel. Baker first became manager of the Giants in 1993, with Bochy hired by the Padres in 1995. Baker was fired by the Giants after the 2002 World Series; four years later, Bochy took over in San Francisco. Baker has since

Opener postponed, split doubleheader Sunday

The Nationals’ weekend opener against the Giants was postponed this evening due to rain, but not before another round of confusion and poor communication with a fan base that has grown increasingly frustrated by the club’s handling of these situations. With more rain in the forecast early Saturday, the two teams will play a day-night doubleheader on Sunday, with the originally scheduled 1:35 p.m. game

Baker doesn’t expect fireworks this weekend (game postponed)

If you’re expecting any fireworks this weekend between the Nationals and Giants, Dusty Baker is cautioning you not to get yourself worked up too much. Yes, the last meeting between these clubs included a brawl. But it’s been 2 1/2 months since then, and it really didn’t stem from any beef between the Nats and Giants as a whole, but rather from San Francisco reliever

Game 114 lineups: Nats vs. Giants

The last meeting between the Nationals and Giants was rather eventful. If you’ve forgotten, it involved Hunter Strickland, Bryce Harper and a three-year-old beef. That series took place way back on Memorial Day in San Francisco, and a lot has changed since then. So will there be any reason for any carryover this weekend? I’ve got to think probably not. What good does it do

With game on the line, Doolittle sticks with his best pitch

Sean Doolittle is a one-pitch pitcher. He’s not afraid to admit it. As noted before, he’s willing to throw the occasional slider or changeup, but at his core he’s a fastball guy and he’ll keep living and dying by that fastball. Which is why, in part, the final at-bat of Thursday night’s game at Nationals Park was so compelling. With two outs and the tying

Two rookie outfielders come through late in Nationals’ win

The Nationals expect to have a fully healthy lineup within a matter of weeks, with Michael A. Taylor set to return from the disabled list first, then Jayson Werth and Trea Turner following shortly after that. Which means Brian Goodwin is headed back to the bench in the near future, and Andrew Stevenson is likely headed back to the minors (at least until rosters expand

Goodwin’s late blast, bullpen’s zeros propel Nats to 3-2 win

Brian Goodwin may have slumped at times, and he may not have been able to duplicate the production the Nationals would have received from Adam Eaton or Michael A. Taylor had either of their top two center fielders been healthy all summer. But where would this team be without its third-stringer, who has more than held down the fort in the absence of others and

Turner starts full throwing, almost cleared for swinging bat

Trea Turner was out at his familiar shortstop position this afternoon, fielding grounders and making throws across the diamond for the first time since an errant fastball fractured his wrist six weeks ago He’s been running nearly nonstop the entire time he’s been on the disabled list. All that’s left for Turner to do is swing a bat, and that should be happening in the

Game 113 lineups: Nats vs. Marlins

It’s too early to actually write about these things, but because you’re wondering (and because we’re smack dab in the middle of the dog days right now) ... the Nationals’ magic number to clinch the NL East is currently 37. Obviously, there’s still a long way to go, but that’s also a really low number for Aug. 10. The Nats will have a chance to

Kendrick winning over Nats with professional approach at plate

There are few compliments one ballplayer can heap on another more telling than to refer to him as a “professional hitter.” It sounds silly, but that’s the kind of designation that is reserved for only a select few, those who consistently produce the kind of quality at-bats that impress even the best this game has to offer. So when Dusty Baker referred to Howie Kendrick

Gonzalez’s dream season continues, on and off the field

Some athletes try to compartmentalize their professional lives and their personal lives, making sure not to let one impact the other. Gio Gonzalez just decides to embrace it all and enjoy both to the fullest, even if they sometimes intersect. For the veteran left-hander, there was no way to separate the two this week, not with everything he experienced. Nine days ago, he nearly threw

Nationals cruise to 10-1 victory behind Gonzalez, Zimmerman

An altered pitching schedule due to the birth of his son over the weekend did nothing to throw Gio Gonzalez out of whack. The left-hander was back on the mound tonight and dominated the Marlins just as he did nine days earlier in his near-no-hitter. This time, he tossed seven innings of one-run ball, leading the Nationals to a 10-1 victory on a night in

Strasburg throws simulated game, says rehab start is next

Stephen Strasburg took a key step in his return to the mound for the Nationals this afternoon by throwing a simulated game, the most significant test the right-hander has put his elbow through since going on the disabled list 2 1/2 weeks ago. Strasburg said he threw 57 pitches over four simulated “innings,” facing two batters (teammates Jayson Werth and Andrew Stevenson), and emerged with

Game 112 lineups: Nats vs. Marlins

When last we saw Gio Gonzalez on the mound, he was carrying a no-hitter into the bottom of the ninth at Marlins Park before Dee Gordon broke it up on an emotional night in Miami. Since then, Gonzalez has left the Nationals for a few days for the birth of his second son, Gabriel, and now he returns to the mound for his first appearance

As Taylor moves closer to return, Goodwin’s numbers decline

The Nationals have been able to withstand the long-term injuries to lineup regulars by getting contributions from a number of backups. And in some cases, even the backups to the backups. But they do need to start seeing those regulars come back from the disabled list, and in the process allow those backups to slide back into the roles for which they were intended all

Would-be National Worley takes them down again

Had things gone as originally planned, Vance Worley most likely would have started tonight’s game at Nationals Park, not for the visiting club for the home squad. The Nationals signed Worley to a minor league contract last winter and offered him an invitation to big league camp. It was a non-guaranteed deal, but given the right-hander’s track record and versatility, he looked like a strong

Nats fall 7-3 as Worley beats Cole for second time in a week

The second A.J. Cole-Vance Worley matchup in a week didn’t go any better for the Nationals than it did the first time. In a rematch of Wednesday night’s blowout loss in Miami, Worley once again handcuffed the Nationals lineup while Cole served up a couple of towering home runs to the Marlins during a 7-3 loss that looked all too familiar. Worley, the journeyman long

Romero throwing again after injection for forearm tightness

Enny Romero was back throwing on the field at Nationals Park this afternoon, cleared to begin ramping up again after tests revealed the left-hander is dealing only with muscle tightness in his forearm and nothing more serious than that. Romero had to come out of Wednesday’s game in Miami after complaining of arm trouble, and the Nationals placed him on the 10-day disabled list and

Game 111 lineups: Nats vs. Marlins

The Nationals’ rotation is getting back to normal, with Max Scherzer having returned last night and Gio Gonzalez set to return tomorrow night. But there’s one more stop-gap start needed from a fill-in tonight, and so A.J. Cole will be taking the mound to face the Marlins for the second time in a week. It didn’t go so well for Cole in Miami; he allowed

Fedde improves in second start, Scherzer ready to start tonight

CHICAGO - There’s nothing like experience, and Erick Fedde made sure to take what he learned from his major league debut last week and apply it to Sunday’s start against the Cubs. For example: Trust his entire repertoire, not just two of his four pitches. “The first game, I felt like I really got away from my breaking ball, and just turned into a two-pitch

No statement, but Nats make case beating Cubs in season series

CHICAGO - There was no trophy presentation inside the cramped visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field this afternoon, no champagne celebration, no extra-loud music to distinguish this from any other game the Nationals have won this season. Maybe that says more about this team than anything else. Had they whooped it up and made a big deal out of a 9-4 victory over the Cubs -

Wieters’ grand slam caps Nationals’ furious rally in 9-4 victory

CHICAGO - They trailed much of the afternoon, unable to string together much against Jon Lester and unable to keep Willson Contreras in the park. But the Nationals knew they still had a chance if they could: 1) keep the game close, 2) get Lester out and get into the Cubs bullpen and 3) get to their own new bullpen trio. Wouldn’t you know they

Fedde putting away hitters early in second start (Nats win 9-4)

CHICAGO - Erick Fedde has come out throwing strikes again. And so far, that has produced better results for the Nationals rookie than in his first career start. Taking the mound seven days after he was roughed up by the Rockies for seven runs in four innings, Fedde retired the first five Cubs batters he faced today, three via strikeout. The bottom of Chicago’s lineup

For Jageler and Brown, a week to remember in the booth

CHICAGO - Dave Jageler has spent the last 11 1/2 years broadcasting Nationals games in vivid detail on the radio, so there is a natural comfort level he has found along the way. A comfort level he hasn’t fully felt over the last week as he has continued to broadcast Nationals games, just in the entirely different medium of television. “I’ve done over 2,000 games

Game 109 lineups: Nats at Cubs

CHICAGO - It’s a big day at Wrigley Field, if you care about things like head-to-head records against big-name opponents. The Nationals and Cubs have not only split this weekend’s series so far, they’ve also split the season series. Yes, each team has won three games. And so today’s finale will settle that score. (And if, by some chance, the two teams wound up tied

Wieters explains what led to his third career ejection

CHICAGO - Matt Wieters, by his own admission, isn’t the type to argue with umpires very much. Certainly not to the extent he risks ejection. But every once in a while, the Nationals catcher feels like he needs to make a point. Usually when it comes to balls and strikes. And so when he felt it was necessary in the bottom of the sixth Saturday

Nationals had action late but were done in by earlier mistakes

CHICAGO - That the Nationals “had action” - as Dusty Baker likes to call it - several times late in today’s 7-4 loss to the Cubs speaks to their ability to rarely be out of a ballgame, even one that felt like an uphill climb from the outset. Then again, with a couple of well-placed pitches in a couple of key situations earlier, the Nationals

Rough first inning dooms Nationals in 7-4 loss to Cubs

CHICAGO - A disastrous first inning from Edwin Jackson left the Nationals trying to climb their way out of a significant hole nearly from the get-go this afternoon at Wrigley Field. But every time they made some progress and nearly got their heads back up to ground level, the Cubs pushed them back down the hole and made them start all over again. The end

Scherzer on track for Monday, Strasburg still unclear (Nats lose 7-4)

CHICAGO - As the Nationals cobble together their rotation for the rest of the weekend, they can take solace knowing they should head into next week with the situation much more stable. Max Scherzer, who hasn’t pitched since departing with neck spasms before the second inning Tuesday night in Miami, threw off the bullpen mound at Wrigley Field this morning and is preparing to start

Game 108 lineups: Nats at Cubs

CHICAGO - It is a spectacular summer day on the North Side, with not a cloud in the sky, a nice cool breeze blowing from the northwest and temperatures climbing into the upper 70s by the time the Nationals and Cubs take the field for the second game of their weekend series. The Nats originally had Gio Gonzalez penciled in for this start, but he

Murphy keeps hitting at Wrigley, and with runners on base

CHICAGO - Daniel Murphy likes to hit at Wrigley Field. That’s something he has established over his entire career, and especially in the last few seasons. Murphy isn’t alone in taking pleasure from stepping into the batter’s box inside the Friendly Confines, which has been a hitter’s haven since the iconic bleachers were constructed in 1937. But the Nationals second baseman goes beyond the norm

Baker deploys new bullpen trio to finish off Cubs in series opener

CHICAGO - Tempting as it is to just hand the final three innings of a ballgame over to his new trio of experienced relievers, Dusty Baker also knows he can’t overdo it on Aug. 4, in the first game of a weekend series against the defending World Series champs, with two fill-in starters taking the mound the next two afternoons. So Baker didn’t hesitate to

Nationals find the right formula in 4-2 win over Cubs

CHICAGO - The Nationals’ formula for beating the Cubs this afternoon? A couple of Daniel Murphy blasts. A quality start from Tanner Roark. And eight outs from their trio of new relievers. Dusty Baker couldn’t have drawn it up much better. Murphy’s two early homers gave the Nationals the lead, Roark then preserved it with 6 1/3 strong innings and then Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson

Murphy homers to produce early lead at Wrigley (Nats win 4-2)

CHICAGO - With a rare opportunity to bat behind Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy delivered the big blow that gave the Nationals a quick lead this afternoon at Wrigley Field. Murphy, batting cleanup with Ryan Zimmerman getting a day off, launched a two-run homer in the top of the first, putting the Nationals up 2-0 on the Cubs in the opener of a big weekend series.

Gonzalez going on paternity leave, Scherzer aiming to start Monday

CHICAGO - The Nationals are going to have to piece together their rotation for the rest of the weekend at Wrigley Field, but they expect to have Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez back pitching for them once they return to Washington on Monday. Gonzalez, who was lined up to start Saturday against the Cubs, returned to Washington to be with his wife when she delivers

Game 107 lineups: Nats at Cubs

CHICAGO - It’s a cool, gray, windy day on the North Side, the kind of weather you don’t normally expect in early August, but maybe in early October. So consider this another good test for the Nationals, who open a weekend series with the Cubs in a potential preview of this fall’s National League Division Series. Tanner Roark gets the start, and the Wilmington, Ill.,

Potential NLDS preview on display this weekend at Wrigley

CHICAGO - The Nationals still have 56 games to play, the Cubs 55. More than one-third of the season remains. But we’d be lying to ourselves if we didn’t point out that this weekend’s series at Wrigley Field is very likely going to be a preview of the National League Division Series. The Nats have been running away with the NL East for months, leading

How Doolittle became a closer throwing nothing but fastballs

Sean Doolittle made his major league debut on June 5, 2012, entering from the Athletics bullpen with two outs in the top of the fifth to face Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz. Doolittle, who had been drafted as a first baseman out of the University of Virginia, had converted to a pitcher only one year prior to his debut and made only 17 pitching appearances in

Romero likely headed to DL with forearm strain

MIAMI - The Nationals’ ever-changing bullpen appears destined for another change after Enny Romero had to leave tonight’s loss to the Marlins with a forearm strain that manager Dusty Baker said likely will send the left-hander to the disabled list. Pitching the sixth inning in what was a blowout loss to Miami, Romero faced four batters, allowing a run. He said he felt the tightness

Lifeless Nationals shut out by Worley, lose series to Marlins

MIAMI - The dog days of August have arrived, and anyone who questions whether that’s a real thing needs only to have watched the Nationals slog their way through their last two games at Marlins Park. Things had been going swimmingly through the first 10 1/2 innings of this series, with Gio Gonzalez nearly throwing a one-hitter Monday night and Max Scherzer homering during a

Update on Scherzer and other injured Nationals (Nats down 7-0)

MIAMI - Max Scherzer remained upbeat this afternoon, believing his neck injury isn’t serious and can be fixed with a simple adjustment that could allow him to make his next start for the Nationals on schedule. Scherzer said he believes he has a pinched nerve in his neck, one that forced him out of Tuesday night’s start after only one inning. The remedy: He plans

Kintzler arrives, ready to pitch in any role for Nationals

MIAMI - Brandon Kintzler had been through trade deadline day before, last July 31, and he was admittedly a nervous wreck waiting to find out if the Twins had dealt him. So when this July 31 came around and he knew the team had a day off in San Diego, he decided to get away and go on a safari zoo tour with his wife.

Game 106 lineups: Nats at Marlins (Fedde, SolĂ­s optioned)

MIAMI - Let’s see, on Monday night Gio Gonzalez carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning. Last night, Max Scherzer homered in the top of the second and then departed after one warmup pitch in the bottom of the second with neck spasms. What does A.J. Cole have in store for us tonight? Cole gets the ball for only the second time this season in

Kendrick fitting right in with Nats after 5-for-5 night

MIAMI - Howie Kendrick joined the Nationals last weekend saying he simply wanted to fit in with a first-place club that already boasted no shortage of star power and big personalities. It took five games, but Kendrick ensured Tuesday night he’ll fit in just fine here. Because after a 5-for-5 night at the plate, he looks very much like any other member of the National

Scherzer not concerned about neck: “This will come and go”

MIAMI - Max Scherzer spent a good portion of his postgame session with reporters laughing and bragging about the three-run homer he launched in the top of the second inning tonight at Marlins Park. The fact he was able to do that should tell you how little he’s worried about the reason he had to remove himself from the game in the bottom of the

Scherzer homers, then departs with neck spasm (Nats lose 7-6)

MIAMI - Max Scherzer abruptly pulled himself from tonight’s start against the Marlins after throwing an errant warmup pitch before the bottom of the second inning, immediately motioning toward the Nationals dugout that he could not continue. Scherzer, who had tossed a perfect first inning and then launched the first home run of his career in the top of the second, jogged to the mound

Cole likely to start Wednesday, weekend rotation unsure

MIAMI - Last week’s rainout in Washington has left the Nationals in a quandary, needing to call up a pitcher from their system to start Wednesday’s series finale in Miami. But thanks to the long-term domino effect of the rainout, Sunday’s doubleheader and Wednesday’s one-time call-up, the Nats will have the ability to set their rotation however they like for this weekend’s series in Chicago.

Game 105 lineups: Nats at Marlins

MIAMI - The last two times they’ve played at Marlins Park, the Nationals have seen their starting pitcher carry a no-hitter into at least the eighth inning. What does Max Scherzer have in store tonight? Scherzer, of course, was on the mound for one of those previous no-no attempts, reaching the bottom of the eighth on June 21 before a little chopper over the mound

On the ever-changing bullpen and Wednesday’s starter

MIAMI - Gio Gonzalez was the talk of Little Havana on Monday night. And he was more than deserving of all the attention, considering the man carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the ninth at Marlins Park. But the Nationals’ 1-0 victory would not have been secured had Sean Doolittle not been able to take over once Gonzalez surrendered his lone hit of the

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