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1st-place Nats face last-place Red Sox

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1st-place Nats face last-place Red Sox

BOSTON -- Hello from the one and only Fenway Park, where tonight a first-place club takes on a last-place club in interleague action. Just like we all expected at the start of the season, right?

It's been a topsy-turvy year so far, not only in the NL East but also in the AL East, where the beer-swilling, fried chicken-munching Red Sox are bringing up the rear (in spite of their 29-28 record). Boston still boasts a fairly potent lineup, even if the names aren't as intimidating as they used to be. And tonight's starter, left-hander Felix Doubront, is 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA over his last six starts.

Because of that lefty on the mound -- plus the need for a DH in the AL park -- Davey Johnson is going with a right-handed heavy lineup. Danny Espinosa will lead off. Michael Morse will hit cleanup and DH. Tyler Moore and Xavier Nady will man the corner outfield spots.

Oh yeah, and Stephen Strasburg is starting for the Nationals. Plenty of updates and analysis to come on the Nats Insider live game thread...

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at BOSTON RED SOX
Where: Fenway Park
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 177
Weather: Scattered storms, 70 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to CF

NATIONALS (32-23)
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
DH Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
RF Xavier Nady
LF Tyler Moore
C Jesus Flores
(RHP Stephen Strasburg)

RED SOX (29-28)
LF Daniel Nava
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B Adrian Gonzalez
DH David Ortiz
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
3B Kevin Youkilis
RF Ryan Sweeney
SS Mike Aviles
CF Scott Podsednik
(LHP Felix Doubront)

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Papelbon blows it in 9th as Nats fall to Padres, lose series

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USA Today Sports Images

Papelbon blows it in 9th as Nats fall to Padres, lose series

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 10-6 loss to the San Diego Padres on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.

How it happened: There are certain points in an MLB season where the magnifying glass comes over each roster, when singular performances can be honed in on and cast as part of a bigger picture, despite them occurring in the vast sea of a 162-game season.

The month of July, trade deadline season, is one of those times and on Sunday afternoon the first poor outing for Jonathan Papelbon in over a month just happened to occur amidst trade rumors involving the Nats and other closers around the league. If they were already inclined to seek help for the backend of their bullpen, Papelbon didn't do his part to change their mind in this one.

The right-hander hadn't allowed a run since June 12 with seven straight scoreless appearances since he returned from the disabled list on July 4. Against the Padres, though, he found trouble early with a four-pitch walk against Wil Myers with one out. Myers moved to second on a wild pitch and then scored on a Yangervis Solarte single. Papelbon allowed three more runs on a bases-clearing double by Alexei Ramirez to make it 10-6.

Papelbon's uneven ninth followed a rocky eighth inning by Shawn Kelley, who allowed two solo homers, the second to tie the game at 6-6. It was a rare collapse for the Nats bullpen, who followed a rough afternoon for starter Lucas Giolito. Giolito made it only 3 2/3 innings with four runs allowed, two of them earned.

Wilson Ramos hit his 14th homer of the season, Daniel Murphy drove in two runs and posted his 40th multi-hit game of the season. Trea Turner had two hits including a triple. Jayson Werth added a sacrifice fly and a walk to extend his streak of reaching base to 28 games, the second-longest of his career. And Giolito got his first career MLB hit, a single in the bottom of the third.

It was a solid day for the Nats' offense, but Papelbon's ninth made the difference.

What it means: The Nats fell to 58-41 on the season and lost 2016 series against the Padres 3-4. 

Giolito struggles again: The talent is there, but Giolito remains a work in progress. He ditched his full windup on Sunday to pitch out of the stretch and his velocity remained down. The uber prospect who threw a fastball that flirted with 100 is now consistently tossing 92-95. He's also ditching his changeup. Giolito only threw four of them among his 66 total pitches on Sunday.

Giolito was yanked after 3 2/3 innings with four runs allowed, two of them earned. He didn't strike out a single batter and walked three. Giolito has now allowed six earned runs in 11 1/3 MLB innings with nine walks. 

Three of the runs Giolito surrendered were on one play in the top of the third. Myers singled to center field with the bases loaded to score two, and another came home on a throw to second by Ramos. 

Ramos hits No. 14: And we thought Bryce Harper's 451-foot homer on Wednesday night was a bomb. Ramos clubbed a 455-foot, three-run homer off lefty Christian Friedrich in the bottom of the third that nearly made it to the concourse. Ramos' sailed the no-doubter just four rows away from clearing the bleachers in left field. According to StatCast, the ball left his bat at 110 miles per hour. It was the longest homer hit by a Nationals player this season.

For Ramos, it was his 14th home run of the season. He is now just two away from tying the career-high of 16 he set back in 2013. Only one MLB catcher - Evan Gattis of the Astros - has more than Ramos this season.

Turner triples again: Turner's triple was his third in his last five games. It was a standup triple and it led off the bottom of the first. Turner then scored on Murphy's sacrifice fly. Turner's three triples in 10 games this season rank third on the Nats behind Murphy (4) and Ben Revere (5). At this rate he'll pass those guys very soon.

Up next: The Nats take Monday off before embarking on a long road trip beginning Tuesday in Cleveland. Gio Gonzalez (6-8, 4.53) will start the opener opposite Indians right-hander Danny Salazar (11-3, 2.75).

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Nats RHP Barrett suffers major setback in recovery from Tommy John

Nats RHP Barrett suffers major setback in recovery from Tommy John

Nationals reliever Aaron Barrett has suffered a significant setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

While rehabbing in Viera, Fla. on Friday, Barrett broke his right elbow. He will now see Dr. James Andrews on Monday to have his elbow fracture repaired and his ulnar collateral ligament examined.

Barrett had his UCL repaired last September by Andrews. He is eight months into the recovery, which generally takes 12 to 18 months. Barrett had at one point expressed hope of returning to the Nationals bullpen this September, but that is now in question.

Barrett also had bone chips removed from his elbow in September. And this past winter he had bone chips removed from his ankle. It has been a tough year for the right-hander, who broke onto the scene as a rookie in 2014.

Barrett, 28, has pitched in 90 total games for the Nationals. He posted a 2.66 ERA in 50 games in 2014. In 2015, Barrett held a 4.60 ERA through 40 outings.

The Nationals announced Barrett's elbow fracture on Sunday afternoon.

[RELATED: Nats' Ryan Zimmerman: 'I think I'm good to go']

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Drew Storen designated for assignment by Toronto

Drew Storen designated for assignment by Toronto

Former Washington Nationals pitcher Drew Storen has been designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays, thus likely ending his brief tenure with the team.

Storen was traded to Toronto by the Nationals in excahnge for outfielder Ben Revere in January. He has struggled this season with a 6.21 ERA in 33.1 innings pitched.

The right-handed reliever was a reliable pitcher for Washington, but his career with the Nationals was marred by the ninth inning collapse against the St. Loius Cardinals in the 2012 playoffs. Handed a two-run lead in the ninth inning, Storen came within one strike of the win. Instead, he blew the save giving up four runs.

Storen eventually recovered, but Mike Rizzo's faith in him never did. In 2015, the Nationals traded for Jonathan Papelbon despite a strong season by Storen as closer.

Now perhaps the same thing could be playing out this year for Papelbon as the Nationals target New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman.

RELATED: How Dusty's holy water helped Revere vs. Padres