Harper returns to Nationals' lineup after 4 games off

All-Star right fielder had been sidelined by left thumb injury

Harper returns to Nationals' lineup after 4 games off

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper was back in the lineup Friday, as the Nationals began a three-game series with the Marlins at Nationals Park.

Harper missed four games with a left thumb injury. He jammed the finger while sliding into third base during Sunday's game against the Pirates.

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Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats open series trying to lock up 2nd seed

Nats open series trying to lock up 2nd seed

The Marlins enter their weekend series at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday at Washington with heavy hearts, as they continue to grieve the death of Jose Fernandez, while the Nationals aim to lock up the second seed in the National League for the postseason.

The Nationals (93-66) hold a two-game lead over the Dodgers (91-68) for home-field advantage in the National League Division Series, with the Dodgers holding the head-to-head tiebreaker. Washington can clinch home field if it wins and Los Angeles loses to San Francisco.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.

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

Severino shows maturity as backup backstop

Severino shows maturity as backup backstop

WASHINGTON -- Before Monday, Pedro Severino was the Nationals' third catcher, a break-in-case-of-emergency option with 30 plate appearances in his Major League career.

But the moment starting catcher Wilson Ramos landed awkwardly on his right knee, tearing his ACL, Severino's role on the team grew drastically. Just like that, the 23-year-old became Washington's backup and a potential platoon starter, ticketed for the playoff roster.

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Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats take finale, move closer to home field

Nats take finale, move closer to home field

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' lineup Thursday was once again missing many of its usual stars, with Wilson Ramos out for the season and Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper nursing injuries. But that didn't stop Dusty Baker's squad, which rode big games from several replacements to a 5-3 win over the D-backs at Nationals Park.

Filling at catcher, second base and right field, respectively, Pedro Severino, Wilmer Difo and Michael Taylor combined to go 5-for-11 with two home runs and four of Washington's five RBIs. That trio led a Nationals offense that tagged Arizona starter Robbie Ray for five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.

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Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

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

Ross hoping to help 'any way I can' in NLDS

Starter tosses 90 pitches in four innings in third start since coming off DL

Ross hoping to help 'any way I can' in NLDS

WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Joe Ross made in his third start since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 18. This time he threw 90 pitches in four innings in a 5-3 victory over the D-backs on Thursday at Nationals Park and left the game with a no-decision.

Ross didn't like the fact that he threw so many pitches in the game. Twelve of those pitches were to the first hitter of the game, second baseman Jean Segura.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 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.

Ramos staying 'positive' after knee injury

Catcher's torn ACL may affect longevity in National League

Ramos staying 'positive' after knee injury

WASHINGTON -- Wilson Ramos said his spirits are good even though he will miss the rest of the season because of a torn ACL in his right knee. He is looking for the swelling in the knee to go down so he can have surgery. Ramos hurt the knee Monday trying to catch a high throw from first baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

Before the injury, Ramos was having the best season of his career, hitting .307 with 22 home runs and 80 RBIs. Manager Dusty Baker called him one of his best two-out hitters. With runners in scoring position and two outs, Ramos had a .288 batting average.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 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.

Murphy unlikely to play until postseason

Slugger could get pinch-hit opportunity; Harper resting thumb

Murphy unlikely to play until postseason

WASHINGTON -- Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy is unlikely to play again during the regular season, aside from maybe a pinch-hit opportunity, manager Dusty Baker said Thursday.

Murphy has missed almost two weeks with strained buttocks, but Baker said he's "getting better, big-time."

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Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats' home-field chase delayed by rainy loss to D-backs

Nats' home-field chase delayed by rainy loss to D-backs

WASHINGTON -- During an interview on a Washington radio station earlier in the day, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo called left-hander Gio Gonzalez the team's most capable No. 3 starter in the postseason. But in what was likely his final start of what has been an uneven regular season, Gonzalez needed 100 pitches to complete 3 2/3 innings as the D-backs cruised to a 3-0 victory in a 5 1/3-inning, rain-shortened game at Nationals Park on Wednesday night.

"The offense was ready to go," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "One of things we talked about in the pregame was you never know when you're going to start, whether you're going to start, or how long you're going to play, but you have to be ready to score early."

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

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

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

Baker: Gio also was pitching for Fernandez

Baker: Gio also was pitching for Fernandez

WASHINGTON -- On Thursday, Gio Gonzalez will be in Florida to attend the funeral of his friend Jose Fernandez. On Wednesday night, Gonzalez had to pitch for the Nationals against the D-backs, with the Marlins pitcher, who died in a boating accident early Sunday morning, weighing heavily on his mind.

Gonzalez lasted only 3 2/3 innings in a rain-shortened 3-0 loss, but it was difficult to blame the lefty for having a tough night.

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Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

3 reasons why Nats can win it all in October

3 reasons why Nats can win it all in October

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have been one of the most consistent teams in baseball all year, right behind the Cubs with the second-best record in the National League for most of the season, as they won their third NL East title in the past five years.

But Washington has its eyes set on a much bigger prize. Here are three reasons why the Nationals can achieve their ultimate goal of winning the World Series.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

With Ramos out, can Nats win World Series?

Catcher's season-ending injury gives Lobaton chance to step up

With Ramos out, can Nats win World Series?

If you're going to win the World Series, you need a catcher. Who else is going to jump up after strike three, race to the mound and jump into the arms of your closer?

The left fielder surely can't do that. And it wouldn't be fair if the second baseman tried, because the pitcher wouldn't be looking.

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

Nats ride Rendon's HR, Max's 10 K's past D-backs

Nats ride Rendon's HR, Max's 10 K's past D-backs

WASHINGTON -- With the news breaking earlier in the day Tuesday that Nationals All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos was lost for the season with a torn ACL, it left Washington looking for ways to replace his production in the middle of the order.

Anthony Rendon provided that offense Tuesday night, when he launched a three-run homer off right-hander Randall Delgado to help guide the Nationals to a 4-2 victory over the D-backs at Nationals Park.

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

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

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

Cy Max? Scherzer sets Nats' strikeout record

Ace right-hander breaks own mark with 13th double-digit K game

Cy Max? Scherzer sets Nats' strikeout record

WASHINGTON -- When the Nationals signed Max Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million contract late in the 2015 offseason, it would have been hard to envision more production from him the first two seasons.

During Tuesday's 4-2 win over the D-backs, Scherzer added to his Major League-leading total with his 277th strikeout of the year, breaking the record he had set the previous year for most strikeouts in a single season in Nationals (2005-present) history.

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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.

Ramos finished for season with torn ACL

All-Star catcher injured in sixth inning of Monday's loss to D-backs

Ramos finished for season with torn ACL

WASHINGTON -- Wilson Ramos, who had made his first All-Star team as part of a career year ahead of his impending free agency, tore the ACL in his right knee, the Nationals announced Tuesday, ending his season.

It was confirmation of the worst fears for Ramos when he left in the sixth inning of Monday's 14-4 loss to the D-backs, after landing awkwardly when he jumped in the air to grab a relay throw. Ramos, who tore the ACL and MCL in the same knee in May 2012, is scheduled to have surgery later 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.

Strasburg unlikely to pitch in NLDS

Right-hander sidelined with strained flexor mass in right arm

Strasburg unlikely to pitch in NLDS

WASHINGTON -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said it would be unlikely for Stephen Strasburg to be ready to pitch in the National League Division Series.

Strasburg, who has been sidelined with a strained flexor mass in his right arm, threw on flat ground from about 90 feet on Tuesday. The right-hander still has a ways to go get on the mound for even a bullpen session, let alone starting a game in the NLDS, with Game 1 against the Dodgers set for next Friday.

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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.

Scherzer, Dusty can't connect on high-five

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Scherzer, Dusty can't connect on high-five

After Anthony Rendon hit a home run to give the Nationals a 4-2 lead over the D-backs in Tuesday's game, Max Scherzer was very excited. He was out of the game at that point -- after pitching six solid innings -- but was now in line for his 19th win of the season.

That deserved a celebration. That deserved a high-five with Dust -- what is that?

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Cole appeals suspension for throwing behind Kang

Cole appeals suspension for throwing behind Kang

WASHINGTON -- A.J. Cole has been suspended for five games and fined an undisclosed amount for intentionally throwing a pitch at the head of Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang on Sunday, Major League Baseball announced Tuesday.

Cole, who will appeal his suspension, was ejected in the third inning of Pittsburgh's 10-7 win Sunday at PNC Park, after throwing behind Kang's head in response to a fake tag by Kang while Bryce Harper was sliding into third base.

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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 stung by homers in loss to D-backs

Nats stung by homers in loss to D-backs

WASHINGTON -- Now that the Nationals have clinched the National League East, they are trying to find the proper balance between maintaining health and trying to maintain home field advantage for their National League Division Series matchup with the Dodgers.

But with two key players already missing from the middle of their order and one of their top starting pitchers sidelined, the Nationals may have lost another in Monday's 14-4 loss to the D-backs. Wilson Ramos, their All-Star catcher having the best season of his career, left the game in the sixth inning with a right knee injury. He had to be carried off the field by team trainers, unable to put any weight on the leg. The Nationals did not offer any more clarity on his injury other than the fact that he will undergo an MRI on Tuesday.

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

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

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

Harper out 'a few days' with injured left thumb

X-rays negative on All-Star outfielder; Murphy remains out with strained buttocks

Harper out 'a few days' with injured left thumb

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper's X-rays came back negative on his left thumb, a bit of encouraging news for a Nationals' team suddenly dealing with a few injuries to key players.

Although Harper did not play in Monday's 14-4 loss to the D-backs, manager Dusty Baker said he expects Harper, who is listed as day to day, to return in time for the playoffs.

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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.

5 days that set the course for the Nationals

5 days that set the course for the Nationals

PITTSBURGH -- The Nationals were in turmoil by the end of the 2015 season. They didn't make the postseason, so they dismissed Matt Williams as manager.

In came Dusty Baker, who guided the Nats to their third National League East title. The veteran skipper hopes to take them further than the NL Division Series this October.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 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 acquire Gushue from Bucs for Bostick

Nats acquire Gushue from Bucs for Bostick

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals acquired catcher Taylor Gushue and cash from the Pirates on Monday in exchange for infielder Chris Bostick, who was designated for assignment when the team reinstated Joe Ross from the 60-day DL last week.

Gushue was a fourth-round Draft pick by the Pirates in 2014 from the University of Florida. He spent this past season with Class A Advanced Bradenton, hitting .226/.282/.357.

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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, Fernandez's final opponent, mourn ace

Murphy: 'No words to describe loss' of Marlins' exuberant right-hander

Nats, Fernandez's final opponent, mourn ace

PITTSBURGH -- Jose Fernandez's final game was against the Nationals last Tuesday, and he was dominating, pitching eight shutout innings and striking out 12 in a 1-0 victory at Marlins Park.

Fernandez, who passed away Sunday morning in a boating accident, left a positive impression on the Nationals. Take Daniel Murphy, the last hitter to face Fernandez. He was able to get to know him when both were on the 2016 National League All-Star team.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 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 past Pirates with 5-run eighth

Nats rally past Pirates with 5-run eighth

PITTSBURGH -- There was a lot of pushing and shoving behind home plate in the third inning of the Nationals and Pirates' series finale Sunday afternoon at PNC Park. Plenty of give-and-take on the scoreboard, too. The Pirates pushed, but the Nats pushed back with a five-run eighth inning, pulling out a 10-7 win in the back-and-forth, four-hour affair.

The Pirates and Nats combined to use 17 pitchers, one shy of the Major League record for a nine-inning game. In total, 45 different players took the field, tying the NL record and falling one short of matching the Major League high for a nine-inning game.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

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.

Tempers flare in Pittsburgh after deke, near-HBP

Nats starter Cole's ejection prompts benches-clearing fracas

Tempers flare in Pittsburgh after deke, near-HBP

PITTSBURGH -- The Nationals believed it was unnecessary and wrong. The Pirates thought it was typical and crafty. Their disagreement over Jung Ho Kang's fake tag on Bryce Harper ended with both dugouts and bullpens emptying onto the field, sparking a benches-clearing incident in the third inning of Washington's 10-7 win Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.

Tempers began to boil in the top of the third, when Bryce Harper laced a line drive to right field. He stretched the hit into a triple, hustling to third base even as right fielder Josh Bell's throw sailed wide of Kang. But Kang faked a tag, leading Harper to make an awkward slide into the bag.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats jump on Bucs, wait out Mets, clinch NL East

Nats jump on Bucs, wait out Mets, clinch NL East

PITTSBURGH -- What felt inevitable all spring and summer became official Saturday night. For the third time in five years, the Nationals are National League East champions.

The Nats beat the Pirates, 6-1, then waited 23 minutes until the Mets' 10-8 loss to the Phillies in New York, which officially clinched the division title and punched Washington's postseason ticket. Then the celebration was on.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

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.

Baker: Lopez could make postseason roster

Nats' No. 3 prospect could be long man in playoffs after scoreless outing

Baker: Lopez could make postseason roster

PITTSBURGH -- Nationals right-hander Reynaldo Lopez was outstanding during Saturday's 6-1 victory over the Pirates. He replaced Joe Ross in the third inning and pitched 5 1/3 innings without allowing a run and struck out six batters.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker was so impressed that he said he hasn't ruled out putting Lopez, the third-best prospect in the Nationals' farm system according to MLBPipeline.com, on the postseason roster.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 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.

After tough '15, Nats rejoice in Step 1 of ultimate goal

After tough '15, Nats rejoice in Step 1 of ultimate goal

PITTSBURGH -- Max Scherzer left last season with a bitter taste in his mouth. After a season with World Series expectations ended in disappointment and not even a postseason berth, every member of the Nationals felt the same.

That feeling fueled these 2016 Nationals, who led the National League East for all but four days this season. And on Saturday night, they clinched the division championship for the third time in the last five seasons.

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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.