Is this finally the year?

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Is this finally the year?

By John Eisenberg
CSNwashington.com

OK, quick quiz: Who resided in the White House the last time a horse won racings Triple Crown?

Hint: You have to go back father than you think.

The correct answer is Jimmy Carter, who was president when Affirmed captured the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1978.

Its been 34 years since racing witnessed a Triple Crown winner, and after capturing the Preakness with a dramatic stretch run Saturday at Pimlico Race Course, Ill Have Another will get a chance to break the drought in the Belmont early next month.

We're thinking Triple Crown, baby, said Doug O'Neill, who trains Ill Have Another. He's a special horse. We'll see how he comes out of (the Preakness), and if he comes out of it in good shape, we're heading to New York, baby.

The chances of him not taking a shot in New York are virtually nil. The entire sport of horse racing wants to see him make history and generate some headlines.

Even the trainers and jockeys who lost to Ill Have Another Saturday were excited to see him win.

It was an amazing race. Good to see a Triple Crown on the line. Thats good for the sport, said trainer Dale Romans, whose horse, Cozzetti, finished seventh Saturday.

Im happy for the winner and a chance for the Triple Crown, said trainer Ignacio Correas, whose horse, Tiger Walk, finished eighth.

Since Affirmed won in 1978, 10 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and taken a run at the Triple Crown in the Belmont. Theyve all fallen short, in a variety of fashions. Spectacular Bid stepped on a pin in his stall and didnt run his usual race in 1979. Silver Charm lost at the wire in 1997. Smarty Jones ran out of gas down the stretch in 2004. Big Brown appeared ed utterly disinterested in 2008.

Now its Ill Have Anothers turn.

The buildup will be New York-style big, and several serious challengers will likely be lying in wait for him, led by Dullahan, the horse that finished third in the Derby and skipped the Preakness. Union Rags, another talented horse that ran seventh in the Derby but had bad luck during the race, is also expected to enter.

There are a lot of horses that have been in this position in the last 15 years, and it didnt happen for them, said J. Paul raddam, who owns Ill Have Another. So were only two-thirds there, right? So weve got to be cool, and try to block everything out. When we get to the Belmont, just ride the race, and if it happens, it happens.

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Stephen Drew walk-off lifts Nationals to win over Padres

Stephen Drew walk-off lifts Nationals to win over Padres

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 3-2 walkoff win over the San Diego Padres on Saturday night at Nationals Park.

How it happened: Success off the bench as a pinch-hitter can be fleeting and some, no matter how good they were as everyday players, never find the secret.

Not Stephen Drew. Even six days off due to flu-like symptoms could not cool the Nats' bench hero down, as he walked off the San Diego Padres on Saturday night with an RBI triple in the bottom of the ninth.

The final blow came against Kevin Quackenbush, who was the final pitcher summoned from a Padres staff that had otherwise baffled the Nats through 8 2/3 innings.

The Nats got their other two runs on a Daniel Murphy sacrifice fly and a Ben Revere RBI double. Max Scherzer did his part with seven innings and just two runs allowed. The Nats' bullpen picked up from there with a scoreless eighth by Shawn Kelley and ninth by Jonathan Papelbon.

What it means: With the win, the Nats evened up their season series against the Padres at 3-3 and snapped a three-game losing streak to San Diego. They stand 58-42 on the season.

MORE NATIONALS: GIOLITO GETS NOD SUNDAY VS. PADRES

Scherzer keeps rolling: Scherzer's recent dominance continued on Saturday night as the Nats ace went seven strong innings of two-run ball with 10 strikeouts and zero walks. It didn't start out well for Scherzer, who allowed a two-run homer to Ryan Schimpf in the second, but he recovered after that and finished his outing by retiring 14 of the last 15 batters he faced. It was the 13th time in 21 starts this season that he's gone at least seven innings and the eighth time he's recorded double-digit strikeouts. 

Over his last five starts, Scherzer has allowed just four earned runs across 34 1/3 innings. And since May 6, he holds a 2.19 ERA (24 ER, 98.2 IP) in 14 outings. Scherzer had a 4.60 ERA when he took the mound on May 11, but has since pared that down to in impressive 2.92.

The homer to Schimpf was Scherzer's biggest mistake and it was, of course, the continuation of a year-long trend. Scherzer has now given up 22 on the season, tied for fourth-most of all MLB pitchers. That's despite the fact he had only given up one in his previous four starts entering Saturday night.

Revere bounces back: Revere's frustrating 2016 season had reached one of its lowest points on Friday night, when he went 0-for-5 in a loss to the Padres. It was so bad that Nats manager Dusty Baker spoke with Revere's father and grandfather afterwards. They thanked the skipper for being patient with the Nats outfielder, despite him batting nearly 100 points lower than the .300 average he had carried in each of the previous three seasons. Baker expressed sympathy for Revere, but noted he had been back for over a third of the season. Patience was running out. Baker said "we need him badly."

What Revere did to respond on Saturday night is exactly what Baker had in mind. The embattled leadoff man walked in his second at-bat in the third inning and later scored on a Murphy sacrifice fly. Revere set that up by moving from first to third on a singly by Jayson Werth. Revere then doubled home Danny Espinosa in the top of the fifth to tied the game at 2-2. Before Saturday night, Revere had just three hits in his last nine games, a stretch of 29 at-bats.

Harper keeps scuffling: It was another long night for the reigning MVP, who went hitless in four at-bats and left four men on base. His worst moment came in the bottom of the fifth when the Padres opted to walk Murphy with two outs to put two men on to face Harper. Harper promptly popped out to right field to end the rally. Harper is now just 5-for-39 (.128) with 10 strikeouts in his last 11 games.

Up next: The Nats and Padres close their series with a 1:35 p.m. start on Sunday afternoon. Rookie Lucas Giolito (0-1, 4.70) will make his third career MLB start opposite San Diego lefty Christrian Friedrich (4-6, 4.55).

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Kevin Gausman goes a strong seven in Orioles' 5-2 win

Kevin Gausman goes a strong seven in Orioles' 5-2 win

BALTIMORE—Kevin Gausman has pitched well this season. He just hasn’t had many wins. In his 17th start, Gausman picked up his second win. 

Gausman worked seven innings, and didn’t allow a run and only four hits in the Orioles’ 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians before 31,946 at Oriole Park on Saturday night. 

The win assured that the Orioles (56-40) would hang on to first place in the AL East for another night. 

Gausman (2-7) gave up a double to Carlos Santana to start the game, but he was the only Cleveland (56-40) runner to reach scoring position in the first eighth innings. Mike Napoli walked, but Jose Ramirez popped to third to end the fist. 

He struck out seven and walked three. Gausman was helped out by three double plays in the fourth, five and sixth. 

Gausman’s best inning was the seventh, when he retired Ramirez, Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin in order. He struck out Naquin three times. 

For the second straight night, the Orioles scored three runs in the first inning. Adam Jones led off with a single. With one out, Manny Machado patiently waited Josh Tomlin out and then tapped a single to right. Jones was running on the pitch and made it to third.

MORE ORIOLES: JIMENEZ GONE FOR THREE DAYS

Chris Davis grounded to second. Machado was forced, and Davis beat the throw to first, allowing Jones to score.  

Mark Trumbo hit his 30th home run to left field, and the Orioles had a 3-0 lead. 

At one point, Tomlin (10-3) retired 10 straight. He was removed after Pedro Alvarez hit a long home run to right field to start the seventh. It was Alvarez’s 12th of the season. 

J.J. Hardy singled off Jeff Manship. He eventually scored on Jonathan Schoop’s infield single to make it 5-0.

Mychal Givens pitched a perfect eighth. Brad Brach allowed a two-run double to Lonnie Chisenhall with two outs in the ninth, and for the second straight night, Zach Britton recorded the final out and picked his 32nd save. 

It was the first time all season Brach had allowed more than one run. 

NOTES: Play was interrupted by rain for 14 minutes after the third inning. … The Orioles signed 34 of their 41 draft picks, including their first 17. The highest picked player not to sign was Tyler Blohm, a left-handed pitcher from Archbishop Spalding in Severn, Md. The 18th rounder will attend the University of Maryland in the fall. … Corey Kluber (9-8, 3.42) faces Vance Worley (2-1, 3.16) on Sunday. The first 20,000 fans 15 and over receive a Jim Palmer replica jersey.

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Maryland makes cut for 4-star local offensive lineman

Maryland makes cut for 4-star local offensive lineman

Four-star offensive lineman Marcus Minor of DeMatha Catholic (Md.) has trimmed his list to seven schools and Maryland is among them, he announced via Twitter on Saturday. 

The Terrapins are joined by Auburn, Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida, Rutgers, and Michigan State.

At 6-4, 285 pounds, Rivals.com ranks Minor as the No. 37 player in the country at his position. 

Maryland has made it a priority to improve its offensive line since coming into the Big Ten, beginning with former head coach Randy Edsall and now continuing under DJ Durkin.

MORE TERPS: 4-STAR LOCAL SPURNS MARYLAND FOR OHIO STATE