Nats bullpen shines in win over Cardinals

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Nats bullpen shines in win over Cardinals

From Comcast SportsNetST. LOUIS (AP) -- Rookies in the postseason, the Washington Nationals played like poised veterans.The Nationals escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning, pinch hitter Tyler Moore blooped a two-out, two-run single in the eighth and Washington beat the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 Sunday in an NL playoff opener.The Nationals, who had never come close to making the playoffs since moving from Montreal for the 2005 season, overcame a wild start by 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez.Reliever Ryan Mattheus needed just two pitches to bail out the Nationals in the seventh with St. Louis ahead 2-1. Tyler Clippard worked around an error in the eighth and Drew Storen saved it with a 1-2-3 ninth.The NL East champion Nationals led the majors with 98 wins this season, and brought postseason baseball to Washington for the first time since 1933. The Nats go for a 2-0 series lead Monday when Jordan Zimmermann opposes Jaime Garcia.The Cardinals made it to the best-of-five division series by beating Atlanta in the wild-card matchup Friday. But St. Louis wasted a 10-strikeout gem by Adam Wainwright, failing to capitalize enough on Gonzalez's career high-tying seven walks and frustrating its towel-waving fans.A standing room crowd of 47,078, among the largest at 7-year-old Busch Stadium, bundled up for a game that began in 54-degree chill and featured kaleidoscope late-afternoon shadows that bedeviled hitters for several innings.Rookie shortstop Pete Kozma misplayed Michael Morse's grounder for an error to open the eighth and set up the Nationals' go-ahead rally. Ian Desmond followed with a single off Mitchell Boggs for his third hit of the game, putting runners at the corners.Danny Espinsoa sacrificed, leaving runners at second and third, and Kurt Suzuki struck out. In a series of moves, the Nationals sent up Chad Tracy to pinch hit, the Cardinals switched to lefty Marc Rzepczynski and Washington subbed in Moore, who had two of their three pinch homers this season.Moore poked an outside pitch to right field and both runners scored easily.Wainwright became the first Cardinals pitcher to reach double digits in strikeouts since Bob Gibson also fanned 10 to beat the Tigers in Game 4 of the 1968 World Series.Wainwright was a 14-game winner coming off reconstructive elbow surgery that sidelined him all of 2011, with 10 of the wins coming at home. He's been a postseason ace with a microscopic 0.77 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 23 1-3 innings.He fanned Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman twice each and seventh-place hitter Espinosa all three times.Gonzalez allowed just one hit in five innings, on David Freese's full-count bouncer between third and short to start the fourth. But he had trouble finding catcher Kurt Suzuki's glove.The second inning was Gonzalez' shakiest when he allowed the Cardinals to score twice and take the lead without a hit. Gonzalez walked four of the first five hitters, putting St. Louis in position to score one run on a wild pitch and a second on Jon Jay's bases-loaded sacrifice fly.Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth robbed Daniel Descalso of a two-run homer off with a leaping catch to keep it at 2-1 in the sixth. Descalso had a fielding gem of his own in the seventh, ranging far to his left to glove Harper's grounder and then throwing him out by a few steps.

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2016 MLB Power Rankings: The Cubs are back

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2016 MLB Power Rankings: The Cubs are back

The Cubs are back. After a rough July, the Cubs were the first team to break the 60 win mark and have gotten some of their grove back heading into the dog days of summer. How did the other teams do? To the rankings! 

30. Atlanta Braves (LW: 30)

36 wins and it IS August. 

29. Minnesota Twins (LW: 29)

A Joe Mauer walkoff, just for old time's sake. 

28. Cincinnati Reds (LW: 28) 

Jay Bruce's new team this week: the Dodgers! 

27. Tampa Bay Rays (LW: 26)

Most likely to leave: Archer, Ordorizzi, or Moore?

26.  Arizona Diamondbacks (LW: 27)

It's almost unfathomable that they've made Miller available in trades. 

SEE THE REST OF THE RANKINGS HERE

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Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Five observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp on Saturday, the first practice with players wearing pads:

1. Running back Terrance West looks slimmer, quicker, and impressive both running and pass catching.

West had another strong day of practice, and got plenty of reps with both Kenneth Dixon (knee) and Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) still out. Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, and Dixon are considered locks to make the 53-man roster. But West, a former Towson star and Baltimore product, could finally be realizing his potential after disappointing stops with the Browns and Titans. West could force the Ravens to keep four running backs, in addition to fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

2. Keenan Reynolds needs to step up his performance at wide receiver.

A host of wide receivers are performing better than Reynolds, who is trying to transition from Navy quarterback to NFL wide receiver. Reynolds had a couple of drops the first three days of practice, and has been unable to get open consistently. Meanwhile, wide receiver Chris Matthews had another strong day, as did Michael Campanaro. Reynolds can help the Ravens as a returner, but they have other players who can fill that role. For Reynolds to secure a roster spot, he needs to show he can help the Ravens as a receiver. Otherwise, the Ravens will face a difficult decision regarding Reynolds, a local fan favorite.

MORE RAVENS: LATEST INJURY NOTES FROM OWINGS MILLS

3. The way Kamalei Correa and Zach Orr are performing, the Ravens may not need to sign a veteran inside linebacker.

Correa had a sparkling one-handed interception Saturday, showing his hands and athleticism. Orr has been reading plays quickly and keeping himself around the football. Even if Correa wins the job at inside linebacker next to C. J. Mosley, there could be reps for Orr as well, giving the Ravens a promising young combo.

4. Saturday was not a crisp day for the offense.

The defense was the better unit, as the offense looked sloppy at times. There were a couple of bad snaps out of the shotgun from center Jeremy Zuttah, and a few false starts from the offensive line. There is plenty of time for cleanup before Week 1, but it’s not what the coaches want to see.

5. QB Joe Flacco and TE Dennis Pitta continued to look good.

Saturday made three straight days of practice for Flacco with no noticeable limping or discomfort. Flacco may be wearing a red jersey, but there have been no red flags regarding his surgically-repaired knee. Meanwhile, Pitta took a solid hit from Orr while attempting to make a catch, but Pitta jumped right to his feet. This was another good day for Pitta in his comeback from his second major hip injury.

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Murphy out of lineup as Lopez, Nats face Giants

Murphy out of lineup as Lopez, Nats face Giants

Nationals (61-42) vs. Giants (59-44) at AT&T Park

The Nationals are off to a good start in their four-game series at the San Francisco Giants with two straight wins. On Saturday afternoon, they will look to secure a series win with rookie Reynaldo Lopez on the mound making his second career MLB start.

Lopez, 22, returns to the Nationals from Triple-A Syracuse. He pitched for the Nats on July 19 against the Dodgers and got rocked for six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings of work. In his lone start at Syracuse, he tossed a shutout with seven strikeouts and no walks.

Daniel Murphy is out of the lineup today after he was removed from Friday's win with leg tightness. In his place is Trea Turner at second with Ben Revere remaining in center field.

Pedro Severino is starting behind the plate to catch Lopez. The two have worked together in the minor leagues.

The Giants got a big boost just before the game with Hunter Pence coming off the disabled list. The three-time All-Star has not played since June 1.

First pitch: 4:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2, FS1
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Reynaldo Lopez vs. Giants - Jake Peavy

NATS

2B Trea Turner
CF Ben Revere
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
LF Jayson Werth
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
C Pedro Severino
RHP Reynaldo Lopez

GIANTS

SS Eduardo Nunez
LF Angel Pagan
3B Connor Gillaspie
C Buster Posey
RF Hunter Pence
1B Brandon Belt
2B Joe Panik
CF Gregor Blanco
RHP Jake Peavy