On the spot: Unselfish Roark provides big lift

Earning win in first start of season, righty has earned much respect in Nats clubhouse

On the spot: Unselfish Roark provides big lift

CHICAGO -- After winning 15 games with an earned run average of 2.85 in one season, most pitchers would throw a fit if they were unceremoniously dumped from the starting rotation the next season and relegated to a supporting role in the bullpen.

Tanner Roark, though, is not most pitchers.

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John Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Taylor's flying catch highlights Nats' OF work

Left fielder likely saves run going horizontal to snag sinking liner; Harper hits wall to make grab

Taylor's flying catch highlights Nats' OF work

CHICAGO -- Tanner Roark and four relievers provided the pitching, and Michael Taylor and Bryce Harper provided the defense. That was a successful combination as the Nationals posted a 2-1 victory over the Cubs on Monday to improve to 17-5 in May.

Perhaps the biggest play of the game was Taylor's diving catch in the second inning. With two out and a runner on first base, Cubs starter Tsuyoshi Wada drove a liner to the left-center-field gap. The ball seemed certain to drop and roll all the way to the wall, but Taylor raced over from left field and made a diving catch. He was fully horizontal as the ball landed in his glove.

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John Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ramos' go-ahead homer stands up for Nats' win

Ramos' go-ahead homer stands up for Nats' win

CHICAGO -- The Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs will see a lot of each other in the near future, as they play seven games over two weeks. In their first meeting, the Nationals struck first, edging the Cubs, 2-1, on Memorial Day at Wrigley Field.

Denard Span and Wilson Ramos homered for the National League East-leading Nationals, while Tanner Roark started in place of the injured Doug Fister and allowed a run and three hits in five innings. Cubs starter Tsuyoshi Wada struck out six and allowed a run, four hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings in his second start after beginning the season on the disabled list. After Wada departed, Ramos hit a go-ahead solo homer off right-hander Justin Grimm in the sixth.

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John Jackson and Sarah Trotto are contributors to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Remember when? Harper, Bryant meet again

Nats, Cubs rising stars played ball together growing up; 'Silk' immediately sets bar with homer

Remember when? Harper, Bryant meet again

CHICAGO -- Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant grew up in Las Vegas and traveled in many of the same baseball circles as young players. But personality-wise, the two Major League rising stars almost appear as if they're from different planets. Bryant is mostly quiet and reserved, while Harper is not.

On Monday, before the Nationals beat the Cubs, 2-1, to open a three-game series at Wrigley Field, someone asked Harper if he had checked the flags on the center-field scoreboard to see if the wind was blowing in or out.

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John Jackson and Sarah Trotto are contributors to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zimmermann seeks first career win at Wrigley

Zimmermann seeks first career win at Wrigley

Kyle Hendricks will be looking to build on his momentum when the Cubs host Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals on Tuesday night in the second game of the three-game series.

Hendricks finally broke into the win column in his last outing, and he tossed his first career shutout to do it in the Cubs' 3-0 victory over the Padres. He became the first Cubs starter to pitch a shutout without a walk since Jason Marquis in May 2007.

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John Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Clutch Harper backs solid Gio in victory

Clutch Harper backs solid Gio in victory

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper continues to be a game-changer for the Nationals as he drove in two runs in a 4-1 victory over the Phillies on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park. The Nationals improved their record to 26-18.

"Being able to get the W was huge," Harper said. "What we did today to get that W -- going on the road right now -- I'm just glad we ended it on a good note in this homestand."

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Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com and Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gio cruises after wiggling out of tough spot

In fourth, Gonzalez gets big strikeout to avoid costly inning

Gio cruises after wiggling out of tough spot

WASHINGTON -- For a brief moment in the fourth inning, it appeared as if Gio Gonzalez might flash back to his poor outing from a week ago.

But unlike then -- when the former 21-game-winner cruised through three innings before hitting a roadblock -- Gonzalez powered through the hiccup and pitched into the seventh inning of Washington's 4-1 series-clinching win versus Philadelphia.

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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.

Harper comes through in clutch to down Phils

Right fielder drives in a pair and throws out runner at second

Harper comes through in clutch to down Phils

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper showed Sunday afternoon that he doesn't have to hit the long ball to look like "The Natural." Harper drove in two runs and made a great defensive play in right field in a 4-1 victory over the Phillies.

After the game, manager Matt Williams revealed the secret to Harper's success this season and it's more than just leading the National League in homers.

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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.

Fister hopes to start throwing soon

Fister hopes to start throwing soon

WASHINGTON -- After Sunday's 4-1 victory over the Phillies, right-hander Doug Fister was standing outside the Nationals locker room talking to one of the security guards and was in good spirits.

Fister, who is on the disabled list with right forearm tightness, said he is feeling better and hopes to start throwing soon.

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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 recall Jordan, send down Cole

Nationals recall Jordan, send down Cole

WASHINGTON -- Right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole has been optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, the Nationals announced Sunday.

Righty Taylor Jordan has been recalled in the corresponding move to give the Nationals a fresh arm out of the bullpen after Cole's extended outing on Saturday.

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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.

Nats' win streak ends behind shaky Strasburg

Nats' win streak ends behind shaky Strasburg

WASHINGTON --- Left-hander Cole Hamels proved to be too much for the Nationals, who lost to the Phillies, 8-1, at Nationals Park on Saturday afternoon.

Hamels pitched eight solid innings, allowed the one run, five hits and struck out five batters. He received plenty of run support as the Phillies scored a season-high eight runs. Ryan Howard had three hits and drove in two runs.

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Bill Ladson and Todd Zolecki are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Strasburg roughed up again by Phillies

Right-hander describes recent struggles as 'a test'

Strasburg roughed up again by Phillies

WASHINGTON -- Saturday's start against Philadelphia was the latest chapter in Stephen Strasburg's disappointing 2015 campaign.

The former first overall pick lasted 3 2/3 innings and was roughed up for six runs, five earned, in the 8-1 loss.

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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 throws perfect frame in Nats debut

Janssen throws perfect frame in Nats debut

WASHINGTON -- After spending almost two months on the disabled list because of rotator cuff tendinitis, right-hander Casey Janssen made his Nationals debut Saturday and pitched one perfect inning in an 8-1 loss to the Phillies at Nationals Park.

Janssen entered the game in the ninth inning and retired the Phillies in order. He threw a total of eight pitches and seven of them went for 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.

Nationals visit Little Leagues in Washington

Nationals visit Little Leagues in Washington

WASHINGTON -- Gio Gonzalez and Clint Robinson spent one hour Saturday morning talking to members of Washington's Northwest Little League and facing all the hard-hitting questions.

"Who was your favorite player growing up?"

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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 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.

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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.

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.