Nats edge Astros behind Roark, Wieters

Nats edge Astros behind Roark, Wieters

HOUSTON -- The Astros were kept in check again Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park, where Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark held them to three runs (two earned) on six hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 4-3 win in the first game of an Interleague showdown between division leaders.

Howie Kendrick hit a game-tying, two-run triple in the third, and Matt Wieters put the Nationals ahead, 4-3, with a two-out, two-run homer to right field in the fourth, snapping an 0-for-17 slump. All four runs came against Astros starter Charlie Morton (10-6), who worked six innings.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kintzler, Blanton escape key jams

Kintzler, Blanton escape key jams

HOUSTON -- So often, the kind of close games the Nationals will need to win to reach their lofty aspirations will be decided before the ninth inning by escaping the kind of jams Washington successful navigated during Tuesday's 4-3 victory against the Astros.

Right-hander Brandon Kintzler rolled up a key double play to quell a bases-loaded rally by Houston in the eighth inning. Just as right-hander Joe Blanton got a pair of big outs in the seventh to stop another Houston rally and preserve a one-run lead. And while left-hander Sean Doolittle shut the door with a scoreless ninth -- converting his 12th consecutive save chance since joining Washington -- the game was won by the performances from Kintzler and Blanton.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Goodwin swings for first time since injury

Goodwin swings for first time since injury

HOUSTON -- Another Nationals hitter took an encouraging step toward working his way back from the disabled list on Tuesday, when outfielder Brian Goodwin swung a bat for the first time.

Goodwin also did some light jogging and has continued conditioning work without much discomfort since a left groin strain sent him to the DL on Wednesday (retroactive to Aug.14). However, he has yet to begin running full speed, which will be the final hurdle before he is fully recovered.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lind's Players Weekend nickname a college try

Lind's Players Weekend nickname a college try

WASHINGTON -- Adam Lind had the toughest time finding a nickname for the back of his jersey for Players Weekend. He had a couple of ideas, but kept running into copyright issues before he finally harkened back to his old nickname in college.

Lind will wear the nickname "Donnie" on the back of his No. 26 jersey during the inaugural Players Weekend this Friday through Sunday. The name is a nod to the character Donny from the 1998 film "The Big Lebowski" and a nickname Lind received while he was at the University of South Alabama.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats-Astros tilt a matchup of titans

Nats-Astros tilt a matchup of titans

The Nationals and Astros meet Wednesday at Minute Maid Park for the second game of a three-game set between two teams who shared a Spring Training facility in February and find themselves World Series contenders in August.

Houston and Washington have shared a similar path to get to this point. Each team owns one of the top two offenses in baseball, as Houston averages an MLB-best 5.6 runs per game and Washington is second at 5.3 runs per game. The Nationals have a 13 1/2-game lead in the National League East, while the Astros lead the American League West by 11 1/2 games after the second-place Angels' win over the Rangers on Tuesday night.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Read stays hot with homer for Harrisburg

Read stays hot with homer for Harrisburg

After a dominant high school career that included Gatorade National Player of the Year honors as a senior, MacKenzie Gore is quickly living up to the hype in his professional debut.

Gore, San Diego's top prospect and No. 29 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100, set a career high on Tuesday as he recorded seven strikeouts over four innings in Rookie Arizona League action. He allowed one earned run on three hits and one walk in the outing while generating another four outs via ground balls.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: When will Nats be back at full strength?

Beat reporter Jamal Collier fields questions from Nationals fans

Inbox: When will Nats be back at full strength?

WASHINGTON -- Seemingly each week, the Nationals have had to deal with a new injury. As Stephen Strasburg and Michael A. Taylor returned to action, they were replaced on the DL by Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper, Brian Goodwin and Ryan Madson.

And despite the injuries, the Nationals have continued to roll. The good news is that reinforcements are on the way. The top of the Nats' order could be whole again soon, with shortstop Trea Turner and outfielder Jayson Werth scheduled to begin rehab assignments this week.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gio wins 12th as Nationals take series in SD

Gio wins 12th as Nationals take series in SD

SAN DIEGO -- Gio Gonzalez overcame a cumbersome first inning to pitch into the seventh Sunday, guiding the Nationals to a 4-1 victory over the Padres as they took three of four games at Petco Park.

Gonzalez threw 32 pitches in the first, the result of a pair of singles and Wilmer Difo's two-out error that brought in a run. From there, Gonzalez baffled the Padres, finishing his day having allowed one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings, while striking out eight on a season-high 121 pitches.

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Tim Powers is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego.

Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. He covered the Nationals on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gonzalez recovers after early stumble

Lefty throws season-high 121 pitches to give bullpen a break

Gonzalez recovers after early stumble

SAN DIEGO -- When Nationals manager Dusty Baker examined his options during Sunday's game against the Padres, he counted at best four relievers who were available to pitch Washington to a series victory. But he soon realized Gio Gonzalez, the man already on the mound, was his best choice.

Despite a 32-pitch first, Gonzalez worked 6 2/3 innings in a 4-1 victory, an unearned run the only damage against him as he threw a season-high 121 pitches. He provided a weary Nationals bullpen rest early, affording it an opportunity to thrive in later innings.

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Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. He covered the Nationals on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bullpen of the Week: Nationals

Bullpen of the Week: Nationals

The Washington Nationals are gearing up for what they hope will be a deep run into October and the first World Series in the history of their franchise. One area of weakness they had to address at the non-waiver Trade Deadline was their bullpen, and they've done it. Big-time.

Washington's new relievers are delivering at the right time of the season, and they did enough to earn the honor of "Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford."

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Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Robles hits inside-the-park homer

Robles hits inside-the-park homer

Indians prospects Francisco Mejia and Bobby Bradley helped bring Akron's five-game losing streak to an end on Monday as the duo combined for five extra-base hits, five runs and six RBIs in a 13-5 victory against Harrisburg.

Mejia, MLB Pipeline's No. 16 overall prospect (Indians' No. 1), paced the Rubberducks' offense with a 3-for-4 performance and three runs scored. Batting third for Akron, the 21-year-old catcher hit back-to-back doubles in his first two at-bats before connecting on a solo shot to right-center field in the sixth inning.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Werth, Turner set to begin rehab assignments

Werth, Turner set to begin rehab assignments

SAN DIEGO -- Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth and shortstop Trea Turner will begin rehab assignments with Triple-A Syracuse on Monday.

Werth has been out since June 3 with a broken left foot. He was batting .262/.367/.446 with eight home runs before the injury.

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Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. He covered the Nationals on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Strasburg outdueled by Padres' Wood

Strasburg outdueled by Padres' Wood

SAN DIEGO -- Yangervis Solarte's two-run home run off Stephen Strasburg provided the only offense Travis Wood needed Saturday, as the Padres edged the Nationals, 3-1, at Petco Park.

After Jose Pirela's two-out single in the first, Solarte turned around a 96-mph fastball from Strasburg, who came off the disabled list to make his first start since July 23. Strasburg retired the next 10 Padres and 13 of the next 14, finishing his outing with eight strikeouts and two runs allowed in six innings.

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Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. He covered the Padres on Saturday.

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego. He covered the Nationals on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stras dominates after early homer

Stras dominates after early homer

SAN DIEGO -- Stephen Strasburg looked at home at Petco Park. But that's nothing new for the San Diego native.

Strasburg also appeared comfortable on the Petco Park mound, and that is something fresh.

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Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego. He covered the Nationals on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Johnson collects four hits for Potomac

Johnson collects four hits for Potomac

Trevor Stephan, the Yankees' No. 30 prospect, led the Class A Short Season Staten Island pitching staff with a dominant performance in a 5-0 win over Lowell on Saturday.

For a second straight start, Stephan dealt four hitless innings as Staten Island came within three outs of a combined no-hitter. He struck out six batters and did not issue a walk. It's an impressive feat for a pitcher who is still adjusting to professional ball after he was selected in the third round of this June's Draft.

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Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer heads to DL with neck inflammation

Nationals right-hander was scratched from start Friday in San Diego

Scherzer heads to DL with neck inflammation

SAN DIEGO -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer was placed on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation Friday shortly after he was scratched from his start against the Padres.

Left-hander Matt Grace made his first career start in Scherzer's place, pitching 4 1/3 scoreless in Washington's 7-1 victory. A corresponding move has yet to be announced.

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Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats cruise past Padres after Max scratched

Nats cruise past Padres after Max scratched

SAN DIEGO -- Matt Grace and five other Nationals relievers did their best Max Scherzer impressions Friday night in a 7-1 victory over the Padres at Petco Park.

When Scherzer, a late scratch with neck inflammation, was sent to the disabled list, Grace received the spot start in his place. Grace made his first career start count, tossing 4 1/3 scoreless frames on 52 pitches, before handing it off to his fellow relievers. Shawn Kelley, Joe Blanton, Oliver Perez, Matt Albers and Sammy Solis combined to allow one run over the final 4 2/3.

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. He covered the Nationals on Friday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Saving Grace: Lefty steps up, gives Nats lift

Pitcher delivers 4 1/3 scoreless innings in place of injured Scherzer

Saving Grace: Lefty steps up, gives Nats lift

SAN DIEGO -- Matt Grace knew he could give at least three innings. It was far more than he expected to pitch when Friday began.

In place of Max Scherzer, who was scratched and placed on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, Grace pitched a career-high 4 1/3 scoreless innings in the Nationals' 7-1 victory against the Padres. The left-handed reliever learned he would make his first career start slightly before batting practice and tried to keep a regular routine.

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Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

Clutch in the capital: Nats' new-look 'pen shining

Washington's relievers have best WPA in baseball over past 30 days

Clutch in the capital: Nats' new-look 'pen shining

The Nationals' bullpen in the first half was, to put it kindly, not so great, and you already knew that. In the first half, Washington relievers had a 4.80 ERA, the second highest in the game. The lack of competition in the National League East helped paper over the continued blown leads, but the feeling that the relievers could single-handedly torpedo a playoff run was pervasive. Something had to be done.

So something was done. General manager Mike Rizzo acquired Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from Oakland on July 16, then added Brandon Kintzler from Minnesota on July 31. You figured things would get better, and they have; nearly by definition, they had to be. But what if it's not better just by comparison to what came before? What if they're actually ... good?

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Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zimmerman's homer in 8th lifts Nats over Padres

Zimmerman's homer in 8th lifts Nats over Padres

SAN DIEGO -- Ryan Zimmerman's opposite-field homer broke an eighth-inning tie Thursday night, sending the Nationals to a 2-1, series-opening victory over the Padres at Petco Park.

With two outs and the bases empty in the eighth, Padres reliever Kirby Yates grooved a 1-1 fastball that Zimmerman crushed 414 feet, per Statcast™, onto the home-run deck in right field. His 29th home run made a winner out of Edwin Jackson against his former club, and it moved the Nationals 14 games above the second-place Marlins in the National League East.

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego and covered the Nationals on Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Familiar spot paying off for resurgent Jackson

Veteran tosses seven innings of one-run ball vs. Padres on Thursday

Familiar spot paying off for resurgent Jackson

SAN DIEGO -- Edwin Jackson has been with 12 Major League teams, but the Nationals are the first he's played for twice. For Jackson, a rare sense of familiarity is paying off.

In Washington's 2-1 victory over the Padres on Thursday, Jackson matched a season high by going seven innings, holding the Padres to one run on eight hits. In six starts with the Nationals, he has a 2.92 ERA, flashing effectiveness and consistency that the veteran right-hander hasn't often displayed the past few seasons.

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Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego and covered the Nationals on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lerner has leg amputated, now cancer free

Nationals players, coaches learn of condition of principal owner

Lerner has leg amputated, now cancer free

SAN DIEGO -- Washington players and coaches learned Thursday that Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner had his left leg amputated after efforts to remove cancer in the leg.

Lerner, 63, wrote in a letter to The Washington Post that he learned in January he had spindle cell sarcoma above his left knee. He completed radiation in March and underwent surgery in April, but "the radiation treatment eventually caused the wound not to heal properly," Lerner wrote.

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Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego and covered the Nationals on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kelley activated; Madson goes on disabled list

Kelley activated; Madson goes on disabled list

SAN DIEGO -- The Nationals got a reliever back Thursday, but at the cost of another.

Washington activated right-hander Shawn Kelley from the disabled list before opening a four-game series against the Padres at Petco Park. To clear room on the roster, right-hander Ryan Madson, who hadn't pitched since Saturday, was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right index finger sprain.

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Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego and covered the Nationals on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Roark rounding into form for Nationals

Roark rounding into form for Nationals

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark is starting to look like his old self after another strong start Wednesday afternoon, even though the Nationals came up short in a 3-2 defeat to the Angels.

Roark surrendered three runs in seven innings to spin his fifth quality start in six outings since the All-Star break. He has settled in nicely since his disastrous first half, posting a 3.13 ERA since the break, compared to a 5.27 ERA prior.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zimmerman's HR not enough as Nats fall

Zimmerman's HR not enough as Nats fall

WASHINGTON -- Ricky Nolasco looked like his recent self in the first inning, giving up a two-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman. But the righty then settled down for one of his best starts over the past two months, not allowing another run over 5 2/3, and the Angels offense took advantage.

After Luis Valbuena got the Angels on the board with a solo shot off Nationals starter Tanner Roark in the fifth, Kole Calhoun belted a two-run homer in the sixth to push the Angels to a 3-2 win.

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Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington who covered the Angels on Wednesday.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Eaton ahead of schedule, not ruling out return

Outfielder has progressed to light activity in recent weeks; calls Harper 'a freak'

Eaton ahead of schedule, not ruling out return

WASHINGTON -- Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton was sitting in the dugout watching when Bryce Harper slipped over the first-base bag and fell violently to the ground, and like so many Nationals fans, he was sick to his stomach.

Just months after he tore the ACL in his right knee on a similar play, Eaton could not bring himself to watch. He waited to greet Harper with a huge hug when he made it back into the clubhouse. So count Eaton among those amazed that Harper came away with only a bone bruise in his left knee on a play where many feared the worst.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Goodwin to DL; De Aza recalled to Majors

Kendrick starts in right; Werth nearing rehab assignment

Goodwin to DL; De Aza recalled to Majors

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' outfield absorbed another blow Wednesday morning when they placed outfielder Brian Goodwin on the disabled list with a left groin strain, retroactive to Aug. 14. In a corresponding move, the Nats selected the contract of outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who was signed in June to provide outfield depth, and moved Trea Turner to the 60-day DL to clear room on the 40-man roster.

Goodwin becomes the latest Nationals outfielder on a crowded DL. Their entire Opening Day starting outfield is sidelined -- right fielder Bryce Harper (hyperextended left knee), center fielder Adam Eaton (torn left ACL) and left fielder Jayson Werth (fractured left foot) -- along with Ryan Raburn and now Goodwin. When he appears in a game, De Aza will become the 13th outfielder to play for Washington this season.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Read stays hot for Harrisburg

Read stays hot for Harrisburg

The White Sox announced on Monday that they were promoting Eloy Jimenez and Zack Collins to Double-A Birmingham. On Wednesday, it was the powerful prospect duo making an immediate impact and pacing the Barons' offense to a 9-4 win over Montgomery in their Southern League debut.

Jimenez, MLB Pipeline's No. 7 overall prospect (White Sox No. 2), homered in his first Double-A at-bat in the first inning, when he hit a 1-1 offering just inside the right-field foul pole to give Birmingham an early lead.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kendrick's HRs, Gio help stop Angels' streak

Kendrick's HRs, Gio help stop Angels' streak

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and Angels entered Tuesday night as two of the hottest teams in baseball, with a combined 13 wins over 16 games between the clubs. But Washington snapped the Halos' six-game win streak with a 3-1 victory at Nationals Park, using two home runs from Howie Kendrick, who spent his first nine seasons with the Angels.

Kendrick, who hit .292 in Los Angeles, is batting .386 (17-for-44) with four homers and 11 RBIs since being traded to the Nationals on July 28. The Angels couldn't counter his burst due to another brilliant performance from Gio Gonzalez, who threw six scoreless innings and didn't surrender a hit until the sixth.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington and covered the Angels on Tuesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.