Scherzer shows desire to be complete player

Along with pitching 8 strong innings, Nats ace singles and scores decisive run from first

Scherzer shows desire to be complete player

WASHINGTON -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond recently figured out what makes teammate Max Scherzer the competitor that he is.

Desmond realized that Scherzer wants to be more than just a great pitcher. Scherzer wants to be an all-around athlete. He wants to get better at the plate as well as having great instincts while running the bases.

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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.

Werth: Nats benefiting from relaxed Harper

Rehabbing outfielder focused on keeping distractions from derailing ultimate goal

Werth: Nats benefiting from relaxed Harper

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper has been carrying the Nationals for more than a month with his big bat, and teammate Jayson Werth called Harper's fast start "awesome."

Harper clubbed his 16th home run, and 11th in 14 games, during Friday's 2-1 win over the Phillies, and he leads the National League in nine offensive categories, including home runs, RBIs and on-base percentage.

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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 ride Max, Harper's HR to 6th straight win

Nats ride Max, Harper's HR to 6th straight win

WASHINGTON -- Nationals starter Max Scherzer was brilliant on the mound yet again, and it was his leadoff single in the sixth and run scored from first base on Ian Desmond's double that decided Washington's 2-1 win over Philadelphia on Friday night at Nationals Park.

On the bump, Scherzer outdueled Sean O'Sullivan, lasting eight innings and allowing only a second-inning run. Now 5-3 on the season, after winning his fourth straight start, Scherzer recorded his sixth consecutive outing of at least seven innings pitched.

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats go for 7 in a row as Strasburg faces Hamels

Nats go for 7 in a row as Strasburg faces Hamels

A pair of All-Stars will face off in the second of a three-game series between two of the National League's hottest teams. Cole Hamels, who has been one of baseball's best pitchers over the past three weeks, is tasked with cooling off the Nats, who have won six straight games and 18 of their last 22.

The Phillies, who will face Stephen Strasburg, are winners of seven of their last 10, despite losing their last two, and have jumped the Marlins for fourth place in 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.

Roark to make spot start in series at Wrigley

Nationals righty, who won 15 games in rotation last season, to sub for Fister on Monday or Tuesday

Roark to make spot start in series at Wrigley

WASHINGTON -- With Doug Fister on the 15-day disabled list, Nationals manager Matt Williams has decided to put right-hander Tanner Roark in Fister's spot in the rotation either Monday or Tuesday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Roark, who was seen taking live batting practice on Friday, is expected to throw around 70 pitches.

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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.

Battle of the Aarons: Harang vs. Barrett in standoff

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Battle of the Aarons: Harang vs. Barrett in standoff

The Phillies were in Colorado on Thursday night, where Sean O'Sullivan and Boone Logan partook in a thrilling post-national anthem, pregame standoff that ended in a mutual decision to turn away. Well, the Phillies apparently got a taste for the standoff thrill, because ahead of Friday night's game in Washington, starter Aaron Harang and Nationals reliever Aaron Barrett faced off in yet another standoff.

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Yunel appreciated as Rendon progresses

Nationals will have luxury of two utility infielders when regular third baseman completes rehab

Yunel appreciated as Rendon progresses

WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon's rehabilitation from a strained left oblique progressed Friday, when he increased his defensive pregame work and hit live pitching for the first time.

Rendon, who injured his left oblique while on the disabled list with a sprained knee and has not played this season, took roughly 40 ground balls at second base before the Nationals played the Phillies, manager Matt Williams said. Rendon made throws from second base, worked on pivots and turned double plays.

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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.

Janssen activated as Nats place Solis on DL

Janssen activated as Nats place Solis on DL

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals activated right-hander Casey Janssen from the 15-day disabled list and placed left-hander Sammy Solis on the 15-day disabled list because of shoulder inflammation on Friday.

Janssen has yet to play a Major League game this season because of rotator cuff tendinitis, which he suffered during Spring Training. During the last couple of weeks, Janssen was on a rehab assignment for Class A Advanced Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. He allowed a combined two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings and held opponents to a .182 batting average.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

After slow start, Nats should own division

Washington has rocketed into first place, and talent will keep it there

After slow start, Nats should own division

Order has been restored in the National League East. The Washington Nationals are back in gear and back in first place.

They had not been away that long. They had the best record in the National League two of the last three seasons, and then they added the premier free-agent pitcher of the 2014-15 offseason, Max Scherzer.

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Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Off the bench, Uggla valuable piece for Nats

Second baseman has positive attitude about helping in limited role

Off the bench, Uggla valuable piece for Nats

WASHINGTON -- Second baseman Dan Uggla hasn't started a game since May 5, but despite the lack of playing time, he is happy to be a member of the Nationals.

It's a different attitude compared to when he was with the Braves. Last year, Uggla lost the second-base job to Tommy La Stella and acknowledged that he was frustrated toward the end of his time in Atlanta.

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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 welcomes chance to mentor Taylor

Nationals veteran has much advice to give to potential replacement in center field

Span welcomes chance to mentor Taylor

WASHINGTON -- Nationals center fielder Denard Span is comfortable in his own skin. He's not merely comfortable at the plate, where he has 16 hits in his last 49 at-bats (.410) over a nine-game stretch.

Span is in line to enter free agency after the season, and he is willing to help fellow Nats outfielder Michael Taylor at all costs. Taylor, it turns out, is expected to take Span's job next year, but that doesn't matter to the 31-year-old, who remembers when Torii Hunter took him under his wing and showed him the ropes when Span was a rookie coming up with the Twins.

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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 alone in 1st place after edging Yanks late

Nats alone in 1st place after edging Yanks late

WASHINGTON -- Denard Span's single broke a tie in the seventh inning and helped the Nationals edge the Yankees, 3-2, at Nationals Park on Wednesday night.

With the bases loaded, one out and left-hander Justin Wilson on the mound, Span singled to left field, scoring Wilson Ramos, who saw his hitting streak halted at 19 games.

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. 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, Williams baffled after being ejected

Views differ after Nationals star, manager are tossed amid arguments, batter's box dispute

Harper, Williams baffled after being ejected

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals took an unconventional route to first place this season and, especially, on Wednesday night.

Bryce Harper, arguably "the best player on the planet" right now as his manager, Matt Williams, put it, was ejected after a relatively quick exchange that involved a borderline pitch, a show of frustration and some second-guessing from the dugout. And even so, the Nationals went on to a 3-2 win against the Yankees that left them alone in first place in the National League East.

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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.

Not thrown by early blip, Zimmermann cruises

Nats righty allows two runs in first, blanks Yanks over next six to win second straight start

Not thrown by early blip, Zimmermann cruises

WASHINGTON -- Jordan Zimmermann's Wednesday night outing against the Yankees did not start as he hoped it would.

Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran, the first two batters he faced, both hit safely and scored. After that, however, Zimmermann was brilliant, blanking the Yankees for his remaining six innings en route to a 3-2 win that propelled the Nationals into sole possession of first place in the National League 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

Richard Justice

Harper too good, valuable to feud with umps

Nationals outfielder needs to be smarter and avoid ejections

Harper too good, valuable to feud with umps

Bryce Harper makes baseball better every single time he steps foot on the diamond. He's not just baseball's best player at the moment, although he's certainly that. He's also its most compelling.

Harper's every at-bat has become must-watch television. No player is quicker or stronger. No player is more confident. Greatness does not frighten him. Nor do expectations. He has plenty of those himself.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rendon back in DC for workouts, evaluations

No return timetable for Nationals third baseman, who is recovering from oblique strain

Rendon back in DC for workouts, evaluations

WASHINGTON -- Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon was working out at Nationals Park on Wednesday afternoon.

Rendon was seen running fielding drills at second base, playing catch with bullpen catcher Matt LeCroy and taking some light swings in the cage. Rendon also did a lot of strengthening work, but he is not yet close to joining the big league team.

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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.

Zimmerman's 10th walk-off homer an elite feat

Zimmerman's 10th walk-off homer an elite feat

Ryan Zimmerman capped off the Nationals' comeback in their 10-inning 8-6 win against the Yankees on Tuesday with yet another walk-off home run, the 10th game-ending homer of his career.

Zimmerman's late-game heroics put him in some elite company, as those 10 walk-off shots rank third among active players, just one behind both Albert Pujols and David Ortiz. He also has two more walk-off homers than any other player since joining the Majors in 2005.

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

Steady climb gives Nats share of 1st place

Eight games back on April 27, club atop NL East, with Mets, for first time this season

Steady climb gives Nats share of 1st place

WASHINGTON -- For the first time this season, the Nationals have at least a share of first place in the National League East.

Washington's 8-6 win over the Yankees on Tuesday night -- capped by Ryan Zimmerman's 10th career walk-off home run in the 10th inning -- combined with a 10-2 Mets loss vs. St. Louis, left both clubs with 23-17 records.

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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.

Bullpen sets stage for 10th-inning heroics

Five Nationals relievers toss five scoreless innings after Gio struggles through five

Bullpen sets stage for 10th-inning heroics

WASHINGTON -- Gio Gonzalez induced nine straight ground-ball outs to begin his Tuesday night but struggled mightily to record his next six outs. He exited after the fifth inning with a four-run deficit, leaving plenty of work for the Nationals' bullpen.

They were up to the task, though, working five scoreless innings before Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off home run capped an 8-6 win in 10 innings.

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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.

Zimmerman: 'Sometimes you feel lucky'

Nationals star clubs 10th career walk-off homer off foul pole for first runs off Miller

Zimmerman: 'Sometimes you feel lucky'

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper has been getting most of the publicity lately, but Ryan Zimmerman is the face of the franchise because of what he does on and off the field since 2005.

On Tuesday night, Zimmerman put himself in rare company by hitting his 10th career walk-off home run in the 10th inning to give Washington an 8-6 victory over the Yankees.

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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.

Zim for the win: Nationals walk off in 10th

Zim for the win: Nationals walk off in 10th

WASHINGTON -- The Yankees and Nationals found themselves in a slugfest on Tuesday night, and it was Ryan Zimmerman's home run in the 10th inning that won it for the Nats, 8-6, at Nationals Park. It was Zimmerman's 10th walk-off home run of his career.

Zimmerman said he was lucky to be in that situation, but that he probably won't appreciate what he has accomplished until his career is over.

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. 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.

Difo singles in first MLB at-bat; Werth to DL

Infielder ranked No. 7 among club's prospects; outfielder nursing bruised left wrist

Difo singles in first MLB at-bat; Werth to DL

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals on Tuesday called up infielder Wilmer Difo from Double-A Harrisburg and placed outfielder Jayson Werth on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Friday.

Difo came into a tie game with the Yankees during the seventh inning and singled in his first Major League at-bat. He said he wasn't nervous because he knows how to hit. Washington ended up winning the game, 8-6 in 10 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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

ASG debate: Stanton or Harper in outfield?

NL East sluggers both capable of Most Valuable Player Award seasons

ASG debate: Stanton or Harper in outfield?

*** We will be doing daily ASG debates until balloting ends on July 2. We will frequently be pitting one player against another and have a writer make a case for one of them, but that doesn't mean there aren't other great candidates for that position. In fact, your comments could spark a new debate for us to tackle. So let us know what you think! ***

One guy was baseball's (and all of American professional sports') first $325 million man. The other guy, for all we know, could be the next. They both can bash a baseball 500 feet, they both can single-handedly alter the National League East landscape and, simply put, they both make you feel good about the present and future of the game.

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Harper vs. Trout could join ranks of great debates

Linked early in careers, Nats outfielder making strides toward reigning AL MVP

Harper vs. Trout could join ranks of great debates

Remember when Derek Jeter vs. Nomar Garciaparra was a legitimate knock-'em-down-drag-'em-out argument?

They were two of the game's signature stars, born roughly a year apart, both immersed in a major media market and playing a premium position. The crazy thing, in retrospect, is that until Spring Training 2004, there was little statistical question (beyond World Series ring count) that "Nomah" was the superior shortstop:

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Shreve gets best of old friend Harper with K

History between Yankees pitcher, Nationals slugger goes back to high school years

Shreve gets best of old friend Harper with K

WASHINGTON -- Yankees left-hander Chasen Shreve said that he has known Nationals star Bryce Harper going back to their high school years, when Harper was already smearing on eye black and wowing scouts, then earning national attention as he landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 16.

"The first time I met him, it was in a scout tournament and we were playing on the same team," Shreve said. "He came from football practice to one of our practices. He had the cutoff sleeves and the big face paint. I met him, he was a really nice guy. I thought he was more of a football player than a baseball player. When he played, he was just unreal. He played hard; he's always played hard."

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Auction winner joins Nationals' grounds crew

Fung honorary member after bidding at Winter Meetings to benefit LUNGevity

Auction winner joins Nationals' grounds crew

WASHINGTON -- Lawrence Fung won the big prize, so now he gets to do the chores.

Tuesday, Fung, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, served as an honorary member of the Nationals' grounds crew, his prize for winning an auction at Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings.

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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.