Bullpen help at top of Nats' Deadline wish list

Reds closer Chapman among top-tier arms on club's radar

Bullpen help at top of Nats' Deadline wish list

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are in first place in the National League East, two games ahead of the Mets. But Washington is far from being a perfect team. It still needs to fix its bullpen before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, with a focus on setup men who can be consistent in the seventh and eighth inning.

The team thought it had an eighth-inning guy in David Carpenter, but he is on the disabled list because of shoulder issues. Aaron Barrett and Blake Treinen have been inconsistent, and Treinen was recently sent down to Triple-A Syracuse because he couldn't finish off hitters. Casey Janssen hasn't allowed a run in his last six games and has lowered his ERA to 2.95.

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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 comes up on the short end of duel with Bucs' Cole

Ross comes up on the short end of duel with Bucs' Cole

PITTSBURGH -- All-Star right-hander Gerrit Cole picked up his Major League-leading 14th win of the season, as the Pirates beat the Nationals, 3-1, at PNC Park on Sunday afternoon.

A day after the Nationals pounded out nine runs on 14 hits, Cole limited Washington to one run on seven hits while striking out eight over 7 2/3 innings. He lowered his ERA to 2.24, the third-lowest mark in the National League.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ross continues to show he belongs on big league stage

Ross continues to show he belongs on big league stage

PITTSBURGH -- With Stephen Strasburg (left oblique strain) slowly regaining his health, Joe Ross' spot in the Nationals' rotation may be nearing its expiration date. But he's taking advantage of each Major League start, looking like a seasoned veteran in the process.

The 22-year-old rookie's composure was showcased yet again in a 3-1 series-finale loss to the Pirates on Sunday at PNC Park. Ross, in his fifth career start, dealt with conviction -- yielding three runs but just five hits, while needing only 78 pitches to complete six strong innings.

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

Stras to start rehab assignment Wednesday

Stras to start rehab assignment Wednesday

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg will begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Wednesday as he tries to make his way back from the disabled list for the second time this season. The affiliate for which he will pitch has not been announced.

Strasburg (strained left oblique), on the DL since July 5, threw 51 pitches during a three-inning simulated game on Friday in Pittsburgh.

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

Harper aiming to continue success against Fish

Harper aiming to continue success against Fish

Nationals superstar Bryce Harper has been a menace for National League East rivals over the years, but has had particular success against the Marlins. He'll have a chance to continue his career-long tear when Washington visits Miami for a three-game series on Tuesday at Marlins Park.

In 52 games and 214 plate appearances against Miami, Harper owns a .313 batting average, a .379 on-base percentage and .589 slugging percentage -- all of which are personal highs against NL East opponents.

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

Taylor busts out with first 4-hit game

Nats center fielder swats 2-run homer, flashes leather

Taylor busts out with first 4-hit game

PITTSBURGH -- It was only a matter of time until everything came together for Michael Taylor.

That time was Saturday night.

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

Once again, Gio delivers against Bucs

Washington 6-0 since '12 when lefty faces Pittsburgh

Once again, Gio delivers against Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- Entering Saturday night, the Nationals were 5-0 since 2012 in the five games Gio Gonzalez started against the Pirates. 

Complemented by run support and an understanding with catcher Jose Lobaton, Gonzalez delivered yet again in a 9-3 win over Pittsburgh at PNC Park, moving that record to 6-0.

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

Nationals get key piece back in Rendon

Werth, Zimmerman moving closer to rejoining club

Nationals get key piece back in Rendon

PITTSBURGH -- The Nationals' lineup is slowly starting to take its intended shape as infielder Anthony Rendon was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list Saturday.

Rendon, who was placed on the DL with a left quad strain retroactive to June 25, was in the starting lineup Saturday night at second base, contributing a sacrifice fly in a 9-3 win over the Pirates.

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

Nats give Gio lots of support, blow out Bucs

Nats give Gio lots of support, blow out Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- After dropping back-to-back games, the Nationals rebounded in a big way Saturday night at PNC Park, piling up 14 hits as they beat the Pirates, 9-3.

Nationals center fielder Michael Taylor led the way, going 4-for-5 with a two-run homer, three RBIs and a stolen base atop Washington's lineup. Yunel Escobar added three hits and Ian Desmond went deep for the third time in as many games. Aside from Anthony Rendon, everyone in Washington's starting lineup recorded at least one hit, and Rendon lifted a sacrifice fly in his return from the disabled list.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

On hot streak, Desmond leaving slump behind

Nationals shortstop hits clutch tying homer one day after clubbing 100th career dinger

On hot streak, Desmond leaving slump behind

PITTSBURGH -- Ian Desmond did his best to switch momentum to the Nationals' side, and for a half-inning, he did.

It didn't last, however, as the Pirates came back to deal the Nats a 7-5 loss Friday night. But at the very least, Desmond's sixth-inning solo home run added more juice to the personal run he's been on.

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

Scherzer can't fend off power-packed Pirates

Nationals ace lasts five innings, allows three homers for first time since 2011

Scherzer can't fend off power-packed Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- After seeing Max Scherzer carve Pittsburgh's lineup to shreds for a no-hitter just over a month ago, Nationals manager Matt Williams had a feeling how his ace's Friday night outing would go.

"Human nature tells us that if that happens to you, as an individual or a team, you're going to try to not let it happen again," Williams said before the game.

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

Nationals run out of rallies in loss to Pirates

Nationals run out of rallies in loss to Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates clubbed three home runs off Max Scherzer and rallied for two more runs in the sixth inning as they beat the Nationals, 7-5, on Friday night at PNC Park.

Scherzer no-hit the Pirates at Nationals Park on June 20, but Pittsburgh struck quickly this time. Pedro Alvarez homered in the second, and Gregory Polanco and Neil Walker hit back-to-back shots in the fifth. One out from a perfect game the last time he faced the Bucs, Scherzer left after allowing five runs in five innings.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Strasburg throws 'positive' bullpen session

Nationals righty's next likely step is to make rehab start as he recovers from oblique strain

Strasburg throws 'positive' bullpen session

PITTSBURGH -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg (left oblique strain) threw a three-inning simulated game on Friday at PNC Park and looked good, according to manager Matt Williams.

The manager said Strasburg, who went on the DL on July 5, tossed 51 pitches and could have thrown more.

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

Werth, Rendon on verge of return to Nats

Williams said duo could be back for Marlins series beginning Tuesday

Werth, Rendon on verge of return to Nats

PITTSBURGH -- Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth and infielder Anthony Rendon could be activated from the disabled list and rejoin the team for Washington's Tuesday-Thursday series against the Marlins, manager Matt Williams said Friday.

"It's reasonable," Williams said. "That could be an option if they feel good about the next two or three days."

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

Danny Espinosa becomes a frog to rob Jung Ho Kang

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Danny Espinosa becomes a frog to rob Jung Ho Kang

By the time Jung Ho Kang came to bat for the Pirates in the bottom of the fifth of their game against the Nationals on Friday, his team had already scored three runs that inning. The score was 5-4 Pittsburgh, with two outs, when Kang rocketed a pitch from Max Scherzer right toward third.

Danny Espinosa didn't have much time to react.

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Fister searching for consistency with sinker

Fister searching for consistency with sinker

PITTSBURGH -- Nationals starter Doug Fister doesn't feel as inconsistent as he's been, but after yet another bruising outing, the 31-year-old knows something isn't right.

Fister, who was tagged for four runs in five innings in a 7-3 loss to the Pirates on Thursday night at PNC Park, said it's been "frustrating" to see his go-to sinker moving side-to-side as opposed to down in the zone -- a major cause for concern over recent outings.

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

Desmond notches 100th HR but Nats fall short

Desmond notches 100th HR but Nats fall short

PITTSBURGH -- After a disappointing trip through Milwaukee and Kansas City to open the second half, the Pirates got back on track as they returned home with a 7-3 win over the Nationals on Thursday night at PNC Park.

The Pirates looked a lot more like the team with the second-best record in the National League than the one that limped through a 1-5 trip coming out of the All-Star break. Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Francisco Cervelli each went deep for the Pirates, turning around an offense that managed only one run in four of its last six games.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryce signs baseball for fan, fan feels all the feels

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Bryce signs baseball for fan, fan feels all the feels

One Pirates/Nationals hybrid fan by the name of Tessa arrived to Thursday's Pirates-Nats game with an important message for Bryce Harper:

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Williams: Escobar's wrist 'should be fine'

Third baseman available off bench in opener vs. Pirates

Williams: Escobar's wrist 'should be fine'

PITTSBURGH -- A day after Yunel Escobar flung his bat and fell to the dirt in pain after checking his swing, Nationals manager Matt Williams said the third baseman "should be fine" despite not being in Thursday's lineup.

Escobar (left wrist) is available off the bench for Washington's series opener against the Pirates, but Williams said he will not hit.

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

Harper, Scherzer among most popular jerseys

MadBum, Bryant debut in Nos. 1-2 spots on Most Popular rankings

Harper, Scherzer among most popular jerseys

The Most Popular Jerseys rankings, traditionally dominated by Derek Jeter before No. 2's exit last year, have a new and younger look with Giants ace Madison Bumgarner and Cubs rookie third baseman Kris Bryant making their debuts on the list at Nos. 1-2, respectively.

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association released the top 20 rankings on Thursday, based on sales of Majestic Athletic jerseys at the MLB.com Shop from Opening Day through last week's All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats widen East lead with late rally vs. Mets

Nats widen East lead with late rally vs. Mets

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals, looking for some breathing room in the National League East race on Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park, were able widen their lead to three games by edging the Mets, 4-3, thanks to Michael Taylor, who drove in two key runs in the eighth inning.

The Nationals were down, 3-1, in the bottom of the eighth when they scored three runs off reliever Bobby Parnell. Taylor tied the score with a two-run single, then Danny Espinosa drove in the go-ahead run with a single to left, scoring Taylor.

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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.

Resilience is key for never-say-die Nats

Resilience is key for never-say-die Nats

WASHINGTON -- Manager Matt Williams described the Nationals as a team that never gives up, and they proved it in defeating the Mets, 4-3, on Wednesday and widening their lead in the National League East to three games.

The Nationals were down, 3-1, when they made their comeback in the bottom of the eighth inning off reliever Bobby Parnell.

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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 pay for mistakes in loss to Mets

Nats pay for mistakes in loss to Mets

WASHINGTON -- The Mets showed on Tuesday night that it's going to be a race in the National League East. Eric Campbell's pinch-hit two-run single in the seventh inning proved to be the difference as the Mets defeated the Nats, 7-2, at Nationals Park, cutting Washington's lead in the division to two games.

"A great feeling," Campbell said. "It's a big hit. Obviously, we needed to score more runs and get more guys in scoring position, and we did that today."

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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.

Ross meets expectations with quality start

Ross meets expectations with quality start

WASHINGTON -- Joe Ross' return to the big leagues came with the hopes that he would make quality starts in the absence of Stephen Strasburg. The 22-year-old rookie did just that on Tuesday night, tossing 6 1/3 innings and allowing two earned runs in Washington's 7-2 loss to New York.

"I thought he pitched well," manager Matt Williams said. "He was in command the whole time he was out there."

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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.

Fielders have night to forget vs. Mets

Fielders have night to forget vs. Mets

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals had some issues with defense during their 7-2 loss to the Mets on Tuesday night.

The trouble started in the fourth inning. It looked as though Mets right fielder Curtis Granderson was going to be caught stealing second base, but catcher Wilson Ramos had problems getting the ball out of his hand and double-clutched before making the throw. Granderson was safe, and he would later score on a single by Wilmer Flores.

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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.

De Los Santos gets debut under his belt

De Los Santos gets debut under his belt

WASHINGTON -- Right-handed reliever Abel De Los Santos made his Major League debut on Tuesday night, recording two outs in Washington's 7-2 loss to the Mets.

"[He was] just aggressive," manager Matt Williams said. "He threw the ball over the plate. It's got good sink. It's low to mid-90s. And we would rather have [had] a different opportunity to get him in there, but he was aggressive. I liked it."

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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.

Strasburg throws pain-free bullpen session

Strasburg throws pain-free bullpen session

WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday afternoon, for the first time since landing on the disabled list with a strained left oblique on July 5, Stephen Strasburg threw a bullpen session at Nationals Park.

The session lasted about 30 pitches, manager Matt Williams said, and Strasburg went through his full repertoire of fastballs, changeups and breaking balls.

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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.

Desmond is Nats' Heart and Hustle winner

Desmond is Nats' Heart and Hustle winner

WASHINGTON -- Shortstop Ian Desmond was named the Nationals' 2015 Heart and Hustle Award winner by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association on Tuesday afternoon.

This award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game and best embody its values, spirit and tradition. The Heart and Hustle Award is the only one in Major League Baseball voted on by former players.

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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.