Zimmerman swinging a hot stick

Credits regular playing time for offensive groove

Zimmerman swinging a hot stick

ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Zimmerman couldn't deny it. The Nationals lost a heartbreaker Monday night. They blew a three-run lead and lost to the Cardinals, 8-5, at Busch Stadium.

It was Zimmerman who gave Washington a 5-3 lead in the top of the seventh before the bullpen gave it right back in the bottom of the inning, as the Nationals dropped to 6 1/2 games behind the Mets in the National League East race.

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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's big night overshadowed in setback

Zim's big night overshadowed in setback

ST. LOUIS -- Jason Heyward smashed a two-run double off of the left-field wall to highlight a five-run seventh as the Cardinals beat the Nationals, 8-5, on Monday night at Busch Stadium.

Heyward's double was the only extra-base hit of the night for the Cardinals. All eight position players reached base, and Heyward, Kolten Wong, Mark Reynolds, Brandon Moss and Jhonny Peralta each had a pair of hits.

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Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com. 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.

Strasburg to ease back into throwing program

Barrett evaluating options on elbow; Uggla to be activated

Strasburg to ease back into throwing program

ST. LOUIS -- A day after hurting his back against the Marlins, Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg didn't do any baseball activities before the team faced the Cardinals on Monday night at Busch Stadium.

The Nationals want medication to take effect in Strasburg's back before he does anything on the field, according to manager Matt Williams.

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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 tries to get Nationals even in St. Louis

Ross tries to get Nationals even in St. Louis

The Nationals and Cardinals tangle at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night, with Washington right-hander Joe Ross and St. Louis left-hander Marco Gonzales squaring off.

Ross has arguably been Washington's most consistent pitcher. In his last two starts, he has allowed one earned run in 13 innings with 11 strikeouts.

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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 rally to take rubber game from Marlins

Nats rally to take rubber game from Marlins

WASHINGTON -- A combination of long balls and long rallies paced the Nationals on Sunday as they clinched their fourth consecutive series victory with a 7-4 win over the Marlins at Nationals Park. Washington remains 5 1/2 games back of the Mets, who beat the Red Sox, 5-4.

"We've got a long way to go," outfielder Jayson Werth said. "We've got a tough three-game road trip in St. Louis. We need to keep winning series and keep winning ballgames to give ourselves a chance. I don't think anybody in here has given up. I think everyone believes in each other and believes in this team. We've got a long way to go."

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Back tightness cuts Strasburg's outing short

Right-hander hopes to make next start after allowing two homers in four innings

Back tightness cuts Strasburg's outing short

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg left Sunday's game against the Marlins after four innings because of back tightness and was replaced by right-hander Doug Fister in a 7-4 victory.

Strasburg allowed four runs on seven hits. In the first inning, he allowed a three-run homer to Justin Bour, and a solo shot to Derek Dietrich three innings later. The Nationals noticed that Strasburg's velocity on his fastball was down, so they decided he was done for the day.

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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 earns win with strong effort out of bullpen

Fister earns win with strong effort out of bullpen

WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Doug Fister came out of the bullpen and picked up the win in the Nationals' 7-4 victory over the Marlins on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.

It was Fister's first win since July 29 against the Marlins. It was also his first win as a reliever this year. Fister lost his spot in the rotation to Joe Ross and was assigned to a long-relief role on Aug. 6.

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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.

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Jim Callis

Schrock on MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week

Astros prospect homers thrice, on list for record-tying fourth time in 2015

Schrock on MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week

MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances from the previous seven days. Any player currently on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible, including big leaguers.

A.J. Reed is at it again. The Astros first-base prospect homered three more times and drove in seven more runs last week at Double-A Corpus Christi, earning Prospect Team of the Week honors for the fourth time in 2015. That ties Reed with Kyle Schwarber for the most recognition this year.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sources: Reliever Barrett visits Dr. Andrews

Sources: Reliever Barrett visits Dr. Andrews

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Aaron Barrett saw Dr. James Andrews recently to check on his right elbow, according to two baseball sources.

Andrews is a prominent orthopedist who performs Tommy John surgeries for players needing elbow reconstruction, but it's not known if Barrett will need to go through the procedure.

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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 outfielder Johnson plans to play in 2016

Nats outfielder Johnson plans to play in 2016

WASHINGTON -- Nationals outfielder Reed Johnson said he plans to return for the 2016 season. He said playing with Class A Advanced Potomac during a recent rehab stint helped him decide on his future.

"I'm going to try to play again," Johnson said. "When I was in the rehab stint with those guys, it was one of the great times I had all year. … It reassured me to keep playing."

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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.

Three homers help Nationals top Marlins, gain game

Three homers help Nationals top Marlins, gain game

WASHINGTON -- Backed by three home runs, including back-to-back blasts from Clint Robinson and Ian Desmond in the sixth inning, Jordan Zimmermann turned in seven strong innings in the Nationals' 5-1 series-tying victory against the Marlins on Saturday night.

Zimmermann, who improved to 11-8 with the win, scattered seven hits. Justin Bour's second-deck home run in the seventh was the only interruption in a string of zeros.

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Awaiting surgery, Span reflects on injury-plagued '15

Awaiting surgery, Span reflects on injury-plagued '15

WASHINGTON -- Nationals center fielder Denard Span knew something was wrong with his left hip after he saw a back specialist a few weeks ago. Span would later learn that he had a torn labrum in the hip, and he will have surgery Tuesday to repair it.

Span said every time he had back spasms, he would feel pain in the hip, but that pain felt secondary to the back spasms. But once he received a cortisone shot for his back, that's when Span knew something was wrong with the hip.

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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.

Turner impresses in first MLB start -- at second

Natural shortstop and No. 2 Nats prospect makes dazzling play

Turner impresses in first MLB start -- at second

WASHINGTON -- Trea Turner made his first Major League start on Friday night, and the natural shortstop showed impressive defensive ability at second base in the Nationals' 4-3 loss to the Marlins.

In the sixth inning, Turner, the No. 2 prospect in the Nationals' system and 11th-ranked prospect in all of baseball, covered a lot of ground toward the right-field foul line and made an over-the-shoulder catch on a Marcell Ozuna pop fly into the Bermuda Triangle in shallow right field. According to Statcast™, Turner ran up to 20.6 mph and covered 107.4 feet to make the grab.

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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.

Velocity OK, is location Scherzer's problem?

Nationals' ace continues to struggle since All-Star break, allowing four runs vs. Fish

Velocity OK, is location Scherzer's problem?

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer acknowledged that the losses are painful. He admitted that he made mistakes in the 4-3 defeat to the Marlins on Friday night.

Scherzer allowed two home runs, and they proved costly in a game Washington needed to win. With the first-place Mets losing, the Nationals remained 6 1/2 games back 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.

Nats can't rally after Scherzer struggles early

Nats can't rally after Scherzer struggles early

WASHINGTON -- The Marlins scored four runs in the first four innings off Max Scherzer on Friday night, then held on tight, earning a 4-3 win over the Nationals in the series opener.

Scherzer's counterpart, rookie Adam Conley, limited the Nats to three runs on six hits over five-plus innings in his fifth career start. Washington squandered its best chance to erase the deficit when it loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth inning, but managed only one run.

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Aggressive Nats pick up slack for Harper vs. Koehler

Outfielder, who entered with four HRs off righty, goes hitless, but Zim, Robinson, Desmond homer

Aggressive Nats pick up slack for Harper vs. Koehler

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals hit three home runs off Tom Koehler on Saturday night, but Bryce Harper went hitless in three at-bats against the Marlins' right-hander. There was a feeling that Harper might do some damage against Koehler, considering the outfielder hit four homers off him in eight at-bats this season, including three in one game on May 6.

Ryan Zimmerman, Clint Robinson and Ian Desmond were the ones to homer off Koehler in Saturday's 5-1 win at Nationals Park. They didn't waste time hitting the home runs, either.

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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.

Taylor OK, but injuries force Nats to shuffle lineup

Taylor OK, but injuries force Nats to shuffle lineup

WASHINGTON -- Given the speed and severity of Michael Taylor's crash into the outfield wall on Thursday night, the news out of the Nationals camp on Friday was promising.

Taylor underwent tests on his right knee, and no structural damage was revealed, confirming the original diagnosis of a right knee contusion.

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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.

Rendon ends Padres' rally with fantastic stop

Rendon ends Padres' rally with fantastic stop

WASHINGTON -- With the Nationals' collective back against the wall and Melvin Upton Jr. on third base, Anthony Rendon dove to his stomach.

In doing so, the third baseman robbed Jedd Gyorko of a hit, preserved a two-run lead and helped the Nationals to a 4-2 win over the Padres, ensuring Washington wouldn't lose ground in an already uphill chase for the National League East crown.

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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.

How Strasburg got back to being an ace

50/7 K/BB in 41 2/3 innings since first trip to disabled list

How Strasburg got back to being an ace

This is shaping up to be a pretty disappointing season for the Washington Nationals, and that seemingly goes double for Stephen Strasburg, who has visited the disabled list twice this year and carried an ERA north of 5.00 into July. Even now, he still has an unsightly 4.22 mark, the second worst of the six Washington pitchers with at least 10 starts, and higher than 84 other pitchers who have thrown at least 80 innings this year. As the Nationals have watched their playoff odds sink from 89 percent in early July to under 8 percent on Thursday, the seemingly subpar season from Strasburg has looked like a big reason why.

Now, it's fair to say that when we look back on Strasburg's career, 2015 won't stand out among his best. But that pedestrian ERA hides the many ups and downs of Strasburg's year, from the fact that he's actually been a lot better than his line looks, to the multiple reasons why he hasn't been able to keep runs off the board, to what's different now that he's been absolutely dominant in four starts since returning from the disabled list (32/2 K/BB, five earned runs in 26 innings).

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Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) is an analyst for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ross goes 6 strong as Nationals top Padres

Ross goes 6 strong as Nationals top Padres

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals, who are chasing the Mets in the National League East race, got a much-needed win on Thursday night against the Padres. Right-hander Joe Ross pitched six strong innings in a 4-2 victory at Nationals Park. Washington remains 6 1/2 games back of the Mets, who topped the Phillies.

"We need to win series. We can't worry about anything else or anybody else. We have to take care of our business. It was a good win tonight," Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth said.

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Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter 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.

Rally comes up short as Nats fall to Padres

Rally comes up short as Nats fall to Padres

WASHINGTON -- The Padres watched a late lead dwindle on Wednesday night as the Nationals scored one run in the sixth and three more in the seventh. The Padres never lost the lead, though, and evened the series with a 6-5 win at Nationals Park.

Justin Upton paced the Padres' offensive effort with a pair of home runs, including a solo shot in the seventh off right-handed reliever Doug Fister that served as the game's winning run. Wednesday marked the third time this season -- and second time against the Nationals -- that Upton has hit two home runs in a game. He leads the team with 22 home runs.

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Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Aggressive approach backfires on Yunel, Nats

With the tying run at third base, infielder grounds into inning-ending DP on 3-0 pitch

Aggressive approach backfires on Yunel, Nats

WASHINGTON -- Yunel Escobar knew the drill. With the Nationals' comeback almost complete and the tying run 90 feet away, Escobar's job was to hit a fly ball, drive Anthony Rendon in and hand the baton over to a hot Ryan Zimmerman.

Instead, on a 3-0 offering from Padres sinkerballer Marc Rzepczynski, Escobar grounded into an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play. The opportunity turned out to be the Nationals' last, as the score never changed and San Diego evened the series with a 6-5 win on Wednesday night.

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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.

Sources: McLouth likely out for rest of '15

Nationals outfielder has been on DL all season due to shoulder injury

Sources: McLouth likely out for rest of '15

WASHINGTON -- Nationals outfielder Nate McLouth is expected to miss the rest of the season because of shoulder issues, according to two baseball sources. The Nationals have not confirmed the news.

McLouth, 33, missed most of the second half of last season because of a labrum tear in his right shoulder after diving for a ball against the Marlins on July 28.

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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.

Strong Stras, slam by Zim carry Nats to win

Strong Stras, slam by Zim carry Nats to win

WASHINGTON -- If Stephen Strasburg's dismal start to 2015 led to plenty of questions, lately he's done nothing but provide answers. On Tuesday, the former No. 1 overall pick turned in his seventh consecutive terrific start as the Nationals toppled the Padres, 8-3, to notch their third consecutive win.

"Health is a big key," Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Strasburg, who's been on the disabled list twice this season. "If he feels good when he's out there then he's able to let it go. I don't know how many balls he threw that were 98 miles per hour tonight, but quite a few of them. He sat 95 to 97. That just means he feels good."

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Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Call extends inning for Nats, who cash in

Harper appears to ground out, but ball is ruled foul; Zimmerman delivers slam

Call extends inning for Nats, who cash in

WASHINGTON -- It was the knockout blow that should have never landed.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Ryan Zimmerman put the finishing touch on an 8-3 Nationals win over the Padres with a rocket grand slam into the right-center-field seats.

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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.

Nationals stretching out Roark in Minors

Righty could be needed for rotation if Ross hits innings limit

Nationals stretching out Roark in Minors

WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Tanner Roark was optioned to Class A Advanced Potomac on Tuesday with a specific agenda: increase his pitch count.

"It gives him an opportunity to stretch out a little bit not knowing how the whole month of September is going to go, and it prepares him for starting if we need to have him do that," Nationals manager Matt Williams said before Tuesday's opener against the Padres. "Potomac gives him the opportunity to be close, and we're not necessarily concerned with the competition that he's going to face. It's about increasing his pitch count."

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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.

Eyes wide open: Turner at dawn of career

Nats' No. 2 prospect discusses his learning process and going against the Padres, who traded him

Eyes wide open: Turner at dawn of career

Shortstop Trea Turner -- the No. 2 prospect in the Nationals' organization, according to MLB.com -- made his big league debut this past Friday and is heading into Tuesday's series opener against the Padres, who traded him and right-hander Joe Ross to the Nats as part of the three-team deal that sent outfielder Steven Souza Jr. to the Rays and outfielder Wil Myers to the Padres.

For now, Turner is expected to come off the bench and provide, as general manager Mike Rizzo put it, speed, youth and athleticism. By next year, Turner is projected to be the starting shortstop, replacing Ian Desmond, who will become a free agent at the end of this 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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.