Roark's effort for naught as Nats fall in 9th

Roark's effort for naught as Nats fall in 9th

KANSAS CITY -- Lorenzo Cain singled with two out in the ninth inning, driving in Mike Moustakas, as the Royals rallied for three runs off Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon for a pulsating 7-6 win on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals had entered the game having lost six of seven and were down, 6-4, in the ninth. But with runners on second and third and one out, pinch-hitter Moustakas, battling a bruised thumb, stroked a two-run single to center off Papelbon, tying the game.

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Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

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 returns with key hit for Nationals

Ramos returns with key hit for Nationals

KANSAS CITY -- Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was behind the plate during a 7-6 loss to the Royals on Tuesday night, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. It was his first game since he was taken off the bereavement list on Sunday after missing almost a week of action because of the death of his grandfather.

Ramos' biggest hit on Tuesday came in the sixth inning, when he hit a pitch from right-hander Luke Hochevar and hammered the ball over the head of right fielder Jarrod Dyson, scoring Ryan Zimmerman and tying the score at 3. Ramos raised his batting average to .344, which is second on the 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.

Papelbon: Blown save 'boils down' to execution

Papelbon: Blown save 'boils down' to execution

KANSAS CITY -- Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon didn't mince words when asked why he blew his second save of the season in a 7-6 loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night.

"Execution," said Papelbon. "I didn't execute some pitches. That's what it boils down to."

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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.

Lopez, Bostick among top prospect performers Tuesday

Red Sox's top prospect hits his first Minor League grand slam, No. 3 prospect sets Salem club record

Lopez, Bostick among top prospect performers Tuesday

After they were rained out to begin the week, Class A Advanced Salem continued their winning ways Tuesday with a doubleheader road sweep of Carolina.

Boston's elite prospect duo of Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi, MLBPipeline.com's Nos. 5 and 22 overall prospects, respectively, led Salem in its victories and have helped make Salem's offense one of the most dynamic in the Minors.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper: A lot to learn from Negro Leaguers

Harper: A lot to learn from Negro Leaguers

KANSAS CITY -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is considered a sports-history aficionado, and on Wednesday, he went to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City to be presented with the museum's Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston Legacy Awards for being the National League home run leader and NL MVP Award winner last season.

Harper was honored, of course, but he was more enthralled by the history of the Negro Leagues as he toured the building. He respects the players who came before him, and Harper said Negro Leagues players are one of the reasons he is in the game today.

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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.

Strasburg set to take on champs in KC finale

Strasburg set to take on champs in KC finale

The Nationals and Royals wrap up their series on Wednesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium, with Washington right-hander Stephen Strasburg facing K.C. righty Kris Medlen.

Strasburg has started the year with four consecutive wins for the first time in his career and has been the Nationals' most dominant pitcher. He enters the game with a 40-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 2.25 ERA. 

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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.

Baker: Veteran righty Arroyo trying sidearm

Baker: Veteran righty Arroyo trying sidearm

KANSAS CITY -- Nationals right-hander Bronson Arroyo continues to have right shoulder issues, according to manager Dusty Baker.

Arroyo, who was looking to return to the mound in June, is now trying to throw sidearm instead of throwing from the three-quarter arm slot, Baker said. Arroyo has partial tears in his rotator cuff tendons and he has been hoping rest would solve the problem. Arroyo has said that he would retire if the injury required surgery.

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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.

Harper's UA pact reportedly largest for MLBer

Initial deal was signed by reigning NL MVP Award winner in April 2011

Harper's UA pact reportedly largest for MLBer

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is sticking with Under Armour for the foreseeable future.

The company announced Tuesday it has signed Harper, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player Award winner, to a multiyear endorsement extension. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but ESPN reported the extension was believed to be for 10 years and would be the largest endorsement deal for a baseball player in history.

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Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth.

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.

Gio leads Nats' shutout vs. slumping Royals

Gio leads Nats' shutout vs. slumping Royals

KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Gio Gonzalez threw six shutout innings and Ryan Zimmerman delivered an RBI double as the Nationals held off the slumping Royals, 2-0, at Kauffman Stadium on Monday night.

Gonzalez gave up just four singles, while walking two and striking out one as the National League East-leading Nationals won their fourth straight and maintained their 1 1/2-game lead over the Mets, who also won on Monday night.

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Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002. He 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' bullpen makes statement in KC

Nationals' bullpen makes statement in KC

KANSAS CITY -- The defending-champion Royals have been to two straight World Series thanks in large part to a dominating stable of endgame relievers. The Nationals missed the 2015 postseason in no small part because of bullpen shortcomings.

Kansas City's 'pen is still top-notch, so Washington didn't exactly flip the script on Monday night, but it definitely joined the party.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002. He 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 reaches 1,000 career hits

Murphy reaches 1,000 career hits

KANSAS CITY -- Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy continues to be a hitting machine. With the second hit of his 3-for-4 showing in Monday night's 2-0 win against the Royals, Murphy reached career hit No. 1,000 at Kauffman Stadium.

Murphy, whose RBI groundout in the first inning gave the Nationals a two-run lead, was able to get his first hit of the night off Edinson Volquez in the fourth, when he singled to right field. Two innings later, the milestone hit came when he doubled off Volquez with two outs. He added a single in the ninth inning.

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

Hot start earns Harper NL Player of the Month

Hot start earns Harper NL Player of the Month

KANSAS CITY -- After having a season for the ages in 2015, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is proving he still has the magic touch this year, as he was the named the National League Player of the Month for April on Monday.

Harper hit .286 with a .406 on-base percentage and a .714 slugging percentage (best in MLB) in 23 April games. During that that period, he drove in an MLB-best 24 runs, hit nine home runs (third in MLB), stole five bases and struck out just 13 times in 96 plate appearances. Six of those 24 RBIs gave the Nationals a lead, and three of the 24 won the game for Washington, which posted a 16-7 record in the season's opening month.

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

Darren Baker to volunteer at Nats' Youth Academy

Son of Washington manager is remembered for close call as Giants bat boy in 2002 Series

Darren Baker to volunteer at Nats' Youth Academy

KANSAS CITY -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker announced that his son, Darren Baker, will do community service at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy this summer. It's not known what the younger Baker will do at the academy.

According to Dusty Baker, it was his wife Melissa's idea that their son work at the academy. Darren will also play in a baseball summer league in D.C.

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

Scherzer makes minor switch in return to form

Nats right-hander strikes out nine over seven innings vs. Cardinals

Scherzer makes minor switch in return to form

ST. LOUIS -- After his first few pitches Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium, Max Scherzer could tell he was back to his old self. A mechanical adjustment that was hindering his fastball command had been corrected and Scherzer came out firing the ball down in the strike zone, locating where he wanted and flummoxing the Cardinals offense.

In his best start of the season so far, Scherzer struck out a season-high nine batters and scattered four hits in seven shutout innings to help guide the Nationals to a 6-1 victory and a three-game sweep over the Cardinals.

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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 goes 7 scoreless; Nats complete sweep

Scherzer goes 7 scoreless; Nats complete sweep

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis native Max Scherzer dazzled in his homecoming to help the Nationals wrap up a sweep of the Cardinals with a 6-1 victory on Sunday. It was behind the strength of its starting staff -- which limited St. Louis to three runs in 20 innings -- that Washington became the first visiting team to complete a three-game sweep at Busch Stadium since June 2013.

"For us to be able to come in here and take three games from them, that's huge, especially on this road trip," Scherzer said. "This road trip is going to tell us where we're at. We started off well."

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her 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.

Ramos returns to Nats off bereavement list

Catcher has been away from club since Tuesday

Ramos returns to Nats off bereavement list

ST. LOUIS -- Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos arrived while the team was taking batting practice prior to Sunday's 6-1 victory at Busch Stadium against the Cardinals, and was greeted with hugs from numerous teammates. He had been away from the club since Tuesday, when he was placed on the bereavement list after the death of his grandfather, Jesus Campos. He was 79.

Ramos returned from his home in Venezuela Sunday afternoon and was officially activated prior to the game.

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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.

Ross impressing in Nats' star-studded staff

ERA stands at 0.79 as right-hander stifles Cardinals

Ross impressing in Nats' star-studded staff

ST. LOUIS -- Before Dusty Baker got a chance to see right-hander Joe Ross pitch live, the Nationals manager had received scouting reports about how Ross' "stuff" stacked up with any other pitcher on a talented Nationals staff, including names like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer.

Through the first month of the season, Ross has been as good as advertised. He held a hot-hitting Cardinals lineup to one run in six innings, leading the Nationals to a 6-1 victory Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium. The Nationals got off to a fast start in April thanks to their pitching, which entered Saturday with the best ERA in the Majors.

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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.

Werth's 3-run HR, Ross' start clinch series win

Werth's 3-run HR, Ross' start clinch series win

ST. LOUIS -- For the second straight game, the Nationals parlayed a four-run inning into a road victory over the Cardinals, this time claiming a 6-1 win on Saturday at Busch Stadium behind another strong performance from starter Joe Ross and an early three-run home run by Jayson Werth. The victory gave the Nationals their first series win in St. Louis since May 2007, and they will go for their first sweep here Sunday.

"All signs are pointing in the right direction right now," Werth said. "We just need to keep it going. We have a long, tough road trip, and it's good to get it started that way we have. We'll see if we can build on it."

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her 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.

D.C. Grays, MLB bringing back RBI program

D.C. Grays, MLB bringing back RBI program

ST. LOUIS -- D.C. Grays Baseball and Major League Baseball have partnered to bring the RBI program back to Washington, starting this summer.

The Grays, an homage to the former Negro Leagues team the Homestead Grays, have fashioned themselves as ambassadors for baseball within the community for D.C., specifically with an effort to increase participation within the African-American community. They have held a series of free camps and clinics in the past, but this year will introduce seven teams, which will operate under the D.C. Grays RBI umbrella.

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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.

Big inning, Strasburg carry Nats past Cards

Big inning, Strasburg carry Nats past Cards

ST. LOUIS -- An overturned call and a two-run homer by Danny Espinosa sparked the Nationals in a four-run fourth inning that proved to be just enough for them to hold on for a 5-4 victory on Friday night against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

The inning hinged on a replay review the Nationals requested after Anthony Rendon was called out trying to swipe second. But instead of becoming the inning's second out, Rendon was awarded the base and later scored the tying run on an RBI single by Daniel Murphy.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her 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.

Nats' bats end drought from first at-bat

Taylor's leadoff homer, Espinosa's blast give offense a jolt

Nats' bats end drought from first at-bat

ST. LOUIS -- The Nationals arrived at Busch Stadium scoreless in their last 22 innings and having been shut out on back-to-back days by the Phillies' young, talented pitching staff.

Three pitches into Friday night's 5-4 victory over the Cardinals, Michael Taylor snapped that scoring drought with an opposite-field home run. Taylor's homer and a four-run fourth inning helped guide the Nationals to a win thanks to contributions from a few hitters who have struggled to start the season.

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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.

Gordon's '15 batting title not on Harper's mind

Nats star finished 2nd in NL to suspended Marlins player

Gordon's '15 batting title not on Harper's mind

ST. LOUIS -- Bryce Harper said he was disappointed when he heard the news that Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon was guilty of using PEDs and received an 80-game suspension Friday morning for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy.

Harper finished second to Gordon for the National League batting title last season, and Harper said he is not second-guessing Gordon's claim to that crown.

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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.

Four years in, Harper eyes first Gold Glove

Four years in, Harper eyes first Gold Glove

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper made his Major League debut four years ago Thursday against the Dodgers.

Harper recalls that day as a whirlwind. The moment he remembers most is Matt Kemp hitting a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning.

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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.

Phillips considers Baker a father figure

Reds second baseman supports new Nationals skipper

Phillips considers Baker a father figure

WASHINGTON -- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips said he considers Nationals manager Dusty Baker a father figure and called him the best manager he ever played for.

The two worked together from 2008 to 2013 and went to the postseason three times, when Baker was the skipper in Cincinnati. Under Baker, Phillips was a three-time All-Star. Phillips also pointed out that the Reds were not a good team before Baker's arrival in 2008.

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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' bats look for spark on 10-game road trip

Washington scores three runs during series vs. Phillies

Nats' bats look for spark on 10-game road trip

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals made minor changes to the lineup ahead of Thursday's finale against the Phillies, sitting third baseman Anthony Rendon and outfielder Michael Taylor for Stephen Drew and Matt den Dekker. But it didn't work, as the Nationals were blanked for the second day in a row, this time falling 3-0 to the Phillies at Nationals Park. The Nationals collected four hits in the game.

To make matters worse, Washington hasn't scored in 22 innings. The last time the Nationals scored was Tuesday in the fifth inning, when Ryan Zimmerman singled to right field, sending Rendon home for their third run of the game.

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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.

Bullpen can't back Roark, allows three in ninth

Bullpen can't back Roark, allows three in ninth

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and Phillies found themselves in a pitchers' duel on Thursday afternoon, but thanks to some clutch ninth-inning hitting, the Phillies completed their three-game sweep, winning 3-0 at Nationals Park. It was the Phillies' first sweep at Nationals Park since 2009.

Scoreless heading into the ninth inning, the Phillies loaded the bases with one out and Jonathan Papelbon on the mound. On a 2-2 pitch, Cameron Rupp doubled over Bryce Harper's head in right field to score Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis. Two batters later, David Lough reached base on an infield single, scoring Maikel Franco. All three runs were charged to Nationals reliever Felipe Rivero, who allowed two hits and an intentional walk to start the inning.

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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.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

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

Nationals not ready to shake up lineup

Nationals not ready to shake up lineup

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals were handed their first shutout loss of the season and managed just two hits, one of which was a bunt single, off right-hander Jeremy Hellickson and two Phillies relievers during Wednesday night's 3-0 loss at Nationals Park.

It was a sharp outing from Hellickson, but it highlighted one of the Nationals' underlying issues despite their fast start this season. Outside of Bryce Harper, who is off to another MVP-worthy campaign, and Daniel Murphy, who has hit safely in 17 of the 19 games he has played, the Nationals are not hitting.

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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.