Nats hoping big blast sparks Zim's bat

No-doubt HR ignites ninth-inning rally in loss to D-backs

Nats hoping big blast sparks Zim's bat

WASHINGTON -- Ryan Zimmerman's seventh home run of 2015, a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth Monday night, was the first Nationals run in a comeback effort that fell short.

The Arizona Diamondbacks escaped with a 6-4 victory at Nationals Park, but if the mammoth blast ignites Zimmerman, whom the Nationals are counting on for the final 58 games of the season, it will end up being well worth it for Washington.

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Late rally fizzles after Fister bit by long ball

Late rally fizzles after Fister bit by long ball

WASHINGTON -- The D-backs smacked four home runs and got another outstanding performance from right-hander Zack Godley as they beat the Nationals, 6-4, on Monday night at Nationals Park.

Godley (3-0) tossed six shutout innings and has thrown six innings in each of his first three Major League starts. His outing Monday, in which he allowed three hits and struck out six, lowered his ERA to 1.50. Five of the six runs the D-backs scored came via the home run as Nick Ahmed, Welington Castillo and Jake Lamb each hit solo shots and David Peralta chipped in a two-run blast.

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Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Strasburg sharp in second rehab start

Righty racks up 11 K's at Triple-A; Span also progressing

Strasburg sharp in second rehab start

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg made his second rehab start Monday night, bringing the Nationals one step closer to having their entire core healthy and back together.

Strasburg, who has been on the disabled list since July 5 with a strained left oblique, threw 5 2/3 innings for Triple-A Syracuse before being pulled at 85 pitches (55 for strikes). He struck out 11 while allowing five hits and two earned runs.

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fister struggles with command of sinker

Nationals starter surrenders 5 runs, 3 homers in loss

Fister struggles with command of sinker

WASHINGTON -- Doug Fister's start on Monday night, a six-inning outing in which he allowed five runs and three home runs, was the latest hiccup in what has become the Nationals right-hander's most difficult season in the Major Leagues.

Fister's sinker was sharp early in the Arizona Diamondbacks' 6-4 win, and he allowed one hit in the second inning but quickly erased it with a double-play ball. A strikeout ended the second and a flyout started the third, but the next six D-backs combined for four hits and three home runs, including a pair of back-to-back blasts by David Peralta and Welington Castillo.

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer faces D-backs with eye on NL East

Scherzer faces D-backs with eye on NL East

With the National League East race tightened and energized over the weekend, Washington will look to its ace, Max Scherzer, to produce yet another quality start Tuesday night in Game 2 of a four-game set against Arizona.

The two clubs met in mid-May in Phoenix, and the Nationals took two of three, outscoring the D-backs, 26-21. Arizona responded Monday night with a 6-4 win in the series opener, increasing Washington's losing streak to four games and dropping the Nationals to a game behind the Mets atop the NL East.

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Paul Hagen

NL East set up for thrilling two-team race

Mets made key moves to contend, but will Nationals' talent prevail?

NL East set up for thrilling two-team race

And the race is on.

By completing a sweep of the Nationals on Sunday night at Citi Field, the Mets moved into a virtual tie for first place in the National League East. The fan base has been energized not only by finding its team in contention going into August but also by the acquisition of a much-needed bat, Yoenis Cespedes, from the Tigers.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals not about to push the panic button

Nationals not about to push the panic button

NEW YORK -- After getting swept this weekend at Citi Field, the Nationals are now in a virtual tie for first place with the Mets in the National League East.

But after watching his team lose, 5-2, to New York on Sunday night, manager Matt Williams refused to push the panic button. He reminded the local reporters that there are two months left in the season, and the Nationals will start thinking about putting a victory together starting Monday against the D-backs.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zimmermann stung by one bad inning vs. Mets

Nats righty allows three home runs over a span of five pitches

Zimmermann stung by one bad inning vs. Mets

NEW YORK -- Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was solid in five of the six innings he pitched in Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Mets.

However, the third inning sent Zimmermann on his way to his seventh loss. After allowing a two-run homer to Curtis Granderson with two outs, Zimmermann allowed three more runs on four pitches. Daniel Murphy followed with a back-to-back homer, and Lucas Duda capped the scoring with a two-run blast.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zimm bitten by HRs as Nats fall into tie for first

Zimm bitten by HRs as Nats fall into tie for first

NEW YORK -- The Mets' first three-homer inning since 2007 sent Citi Field into possibly the biggest ruckus in its history, shooting New York into a virtual tie for first place with a 5-2 win over the Nationals on Sunday night to complete a three-game sweep. Back-to-back third-inning homers from Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy sparked an electric atmosphere at the Queens ballpark, where the fans have thirsted for a playoff team since its inception in 2009. The crowd of 35,374 sure felt it finally had the makings of one after Lucas Duda followed Murphy two batters later with his ninth homer in eight games -- a two-run shot that punctuated a season-defining homestand and gave winning pitcher Noah Syndergaard insurance runs to work with.

"We're excited," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We know we have 50-something [games] to go and have to play those guys six more times, but this is a huge weekend for us. In the scope of things, this was a great homestand for the way we finished it."

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ross proving to teammates he belongs in bigs

Nats' rookie righty allows just two solo homers over 6 1/3 solid innings vs. Mets

Ross proving to teammates he belongs in bigs

NEW YORK -- Nationals right-hander Joe Ross continued to show that he has a bright future. During Washington's 3-2 loss Saturday, Ross gave the Mets a battle, pitching 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out six.

One problem, though. Mets first baseman Lucas Duda hit two mammoth home runs against the right-hander. The second one tied the score at 2 in the seventh.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Span begins participating in baseball activities

Span begins participating in baseball activities

NEW YORK -- The Nationals received great news on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field before their 3-2 loss to the Mets. Center fielder Denard Span participated in baseball activities for the first time since being placed on the disabled list on July 10 because of back tightness.

Span took 30 swings off a tee and then played catch in the outfield without any problems. Span doesn't know when he will return to action, but the big test will come when he starts working out at Nationals Park next week. Span is still trying to strengthen his back and abdominal muscles, which were surgically repaired during Spring Training.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats' offense having tough time in series vs. Mets

Washington has gone 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position in first two games

Nats' offense having tough time in series vs. Mets

NEW YORK -- The Nationals' offense has struggled against the Mets in the first two games of an important three-game series this weekend. In those two games, the Nationals scored a combined three runs and went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

In Saturday's 3-2 loss to New York, for example, it looked like the Nationals were going to break things open early as they scored two runs in the first inning off right-hander Jacob deGrom. Ian Desmond highlighted the inning with a two-run single.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ross solid, but Nats' lead over Mets shrinks to 1 game

Ross solid, but Nats' lead over Mets shrinks to 1 game

NEW YORK -- A billboard greeted fans coming off the Grand Central Parkway on Saturday, trumpeting Yoenis Cespedes' arrival in Queens. But it was an old face, Lucas Duda, who almost single-handedly lifted the Mets to a come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Nationals, moving New York within a game of first place in the National League East.

Before the second-largest regular-season crowd in Citi Field history, Duda hit a pair of solo homers to make up a two-run deficit, then laced a go-ahead RBI double in the eighth. He now has eight home runs in his last seven games, including two off Nationals starter Joe Ross.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Escobar channels bat spinning into game-tying single

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Escobar channels bat spinning into game-tying single

When Yunel Escobar stepped to the plate with a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth against the Mets on Friday night, he prepared himself in, uh, quite an interesting way. 

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Rizzo likes his club post Trade Deadline

Addition of Papelbon bolsters 'pen, while key players return from DL

Rizzo likes his club post Trade Deadline

NEW YORK -- A few weeks ago, the Nationals were in first place and general manager Mike Rizzo said the team wasn't perfect. It didn't help that the bullpen was inconsistent and several of the club's major players were on the disabled list.

A couple of hours after the non-waiver Trade Deadline passed on Friday, Rizzo said he is happy with the team that he has assembled after acquiring closer Jonathan Papelbon on Tuesday in a trade to strengthen the bullpen, combined with Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman all coming off the DL.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gio works out of trouble, allows 1 run in short outing

Nationals left-hander laments not being able to go deeper into game

Gio works out of trouble, allows 1 run in short outing

NEW YORK -- Left-hander Gio Gonzalez labored during the Nationals' 2-1 loss to the Mets on Friday night. Gonzalez had a tough time throwing strikes, needing 105 pitches to record 14 outs with four walks, but he kept the Nationals in the game by only allowing one run.

His worst inning was in the fourth. Gonzalez walked three batters, limiting the damage to one run, but he was gone an inning later. Gonzalez didn't figure in the decision after Yunel Escobar tied the game at 1 in the eighth inning with a single to center, scoring pinch-runner Danny Espinosa.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats drop opener to Mets on walk-off HR in 12th

Nats drop opener to Mets on walk-off HR in 12th

NEW YORK -- Two days after Wilmer Flores became a national sensation for his bare emotion, openly weeping on the infield dirt because he thought he had been traded, Flores' walk-off homer lifted the Mets to a 2-1, 12-inning win over the Nationals on Friday night.

A spirited Citi Field crowd of 36,164 gave Flores standing ovations for his defensive work in the first inning and his RBI single in the fourth, then serenaded him as he rounded the bases in the 12th. The win moved the Mets within two games of the first-place Nationals in the National League East.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper ejected after striking out in 11th inning

Harper ejected after striking out in 11th inning

NEW YORK -- Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper can get heated when he's upset, and it showed during Friday's 2-1 loss to the Mets.

With the score tied at 1 in the 11th inning, Harper was called out on strikes against New York reliever Hansel Robles. Harper immediately started yelling at home-plate umpire Jerry Meals. A few seconds later, Harper was ejected for arguing balls and strikes.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Storen, agent meet with Rizzo to discuss role

Storen, agent meet with Rizzo to discuss role

NEW YORK -- Soon after the Nationals landed in New York on Thursday night, reliever Drew Storen and his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, met with general manager Mike Rizzo to talk about Storen's future with the club, Van Wagenen confirmed to MLB.com.

The meeting occurred two days after the Nationals acquired Jonathan Papelbon to serve as the team's closer, bumping Storen to a setup role. Storen is having the best year of his career. Entering Friday's action, he had a 1.64 ERA and 29 saves. Since the acquisition of Papelbon, Storen has been lights-out, pitching two shutout innings and striking out four batters as the eighth-inning reliever.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New Nat Papelbon saves Scherzer's 11th win

New Nat Papelbon saves Scherzer's 11th win

MIAMI -- All of the Nationals' offense in Thursday's series finale against the Marlins came on one swing of the bat -- a Ryan Zimmerman home run -- and that's all Max Scherzer needed. The All-Star right-hander tossed seven strong innings and allowed just three singles on 109 pitches as Washington downed Miami, 1-0, at Marlins Park to take the three-game series. Nats closer Jonathan Papelbon, acquired in a deal with the Phillies on Tuesday, earned the save in his first outing with Washington.

The win was a bounce-back effort for Scherzer (11-8, 2.22 ERA), who allowed five runs to Pittsburgh last Friday. The righty struck out six and stranded the tying run on second in each of his final two innings, posting his sixth scoreless start of the season.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Storen-Papelbon tandem dominates first test

Nationals' new closer impressed by setup man's stuff in win over Marlins

Storen-Papelbon tandem dominates first test

MIAMI -- In Thursday's 1-0 victory over the Marlins, the Nationals saw a glimpse of what could be a powerful 1-2 combination at the back end of their bullpen.

Drew Storen was dominant in the eighth inning, while Jonathan Papelbon made quick work of the Marlins and saved his first game as a member of the Nats.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer shrugs off mechanical glitch to prevail

Nationals right-hander walks season-high three but minimizes damage vs. Miami

Scherzer shrugs off mechanical glitch to prevail

MIAMI -- Even without his best stuff, right-hander Max Scherzer was locked in during the Nationals' 1-0 victory over the Marlins on Thursday afternoon.

After one of his worst starts of the season, on Friday against the Pirates, Scherzer (11-8, 2.22 ERA) regrouped with seven scoreless innings, walking a season-high three batters while striking out six.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rest key for Werth following return from DL

Rest key for Werth following return from DL

MIAMI -- Left fielder Jayson Werth was out of the starting lineup -- given a routine day of rest -- as the Nationals closed their series against the Marlins with a 1-0 win on Thursday afternoon. The club is letting Werth take it slow after he missed two months with two small fractures in his left wrist.

Clint Robinson got the start for the Nats, hitting cleanup, in place of Werth, who entered as a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth and lined out to third base. Werth played all nine innings of the Nats' win on Wednesday night.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper homers twice, lifts Nats over Marlins

Harper homers twice, lifts Nats over Marlins

MIAMI -- Propelled by two towering Bryce Harper home runs for his National League-leading 28th and 29th blasts of the year, the Nationals beat the Marlins, 7-2, on Wednesday night at Marlins Park to even the three-game set. Harper's first homer to right field came in the fifth inning and broke a 2-2 tie to back a strong outing from starter Doug Fister.

Marlins starter Tom Koehler took the loss in a rare rough outing at home. The righty entered having allowed just nine earned runs in 48 1/3 innings this season at Marlins Park (1.68 ERA), but Washington got to him for five earned runs on six hits in six innings.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Papelbon wants to win, eyes saves record

New Nats closer eager for chance with first-place teams, talks about Rivera's all-time mark

Papelbon wants to win, eyes saves record

MIAMI -- A day after agreeing to a trade to the Nationals, new Washington closer Jonathan Papelbon said he felt free and is starting a new life with his new team. As he put it, he gave up $2 million to win and be at a place where he is happy.

Papelbon is having one of his most productive seasons, going 17-for-17 in save opportunities with a 1.59 ERA with the Phillies. The veteran said he is having a great season because he has learned how to pitch. He no longer can blow hitters away like he did during his days with the Red Sox, but he said he has learned "how to read swings" and throw fewer pitches per inning. Papelbon is one of the few players on the Nationals with World Series experience.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper hits upper deck twice to take NL homer lead

Harper hits upper deck twice to take NL homer lead

MIAMI -- Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper offered his Babe Ruth impression on Wednesday night, hitting two Ruthian clouts in a 7-2 victory over the Marlins. Harper went 3-for-4 with the two homers, which were his National League-leading 28th and 29th of the season.

After striking out in the first inning on a fastball against Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler, Harper made adjustments in the later innings and became a monster at the plate.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Storen perfect in first outing since losing job

Storen perfect in first outing since losing job

MIAMI -- Nationals reliever Drew Storen lost his closer's job after the team's new acquisition, Jonathan Papelbon, arrived Wednesday afternoon. Later that night, getting demoted had no effect on Storen on the field in a 7-2 victory over the Marlins.

Storen pitched one shutout inning in the eighth and struck out Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich. Not bad for a guy who hasn't pitched since last Wednesday. The performance shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Storen was a setup man at this time last year before becoming the closer in September.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals prospect Turner impresses Werth

Nationals prospect Turner impresses Werth

MIAMI -- During his rehab stint with Triple-A Syracuse recently, Nationals veteran outfielder Jayson Werth was impressed with what he saw from shortstop Trea Turner, the Nats' No. 2 prospect according to MLB.com.

Werth noticed that Turner is fast and his bat makes a loud noise that one only hears in the Major Leagues.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.