Diamondbacks-Nats instant analysis

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Diamondbacks-Nats instant analysis

Nationals 5, Diamondbacks 4

Game in a nutshell: Bryce Harper did his part, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles off the right-field wall. Then Ian Desmond finished the deal, crushing a two-run, walk-off homer off J.J. Putz to lift the Nationals to a dramatic victory. Harper twice came within inches of hitting his first career home run, scored a key run with his hustle and dazzled in the field again. His leadoff double in the ninth set the stage for Desmond to be the hero and snap the Nationals' six-game losing streak.
Hitting highlight: With the anticipation and pressure of his home debut a thing of the past, Harper was free to go out and just play a ballgame. And what a game he played. The 19-year-old beat out a little dribbler in the second inning. He missed his first career homer by inches in the fourth, settling instead for an RBI double. Moments later, he scored by knocking the ball out of catcher Miguel Montero's glove. He even made a barehanded catch of a flyball in center while falling to the ground. Yeah, he misread the ball off the bat, but still. And then he just missed a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth, rattling another double off the wall.
Pitching lowlight: Considering how little run support the Nationals' pitching staff has gotten this season, Jackson had to be thanking his lucky stars when he took the mound in the fourth with a 1-0 lead (and again in the sixth with a 3-2 lead). Each time, though, the right-hander gave the run(s) back. He served up a solo homer to Justin Upton on a 2-0 fastball to lead off the fourth. Then he gave up back-to-back two-out RBI hits in the sixth to put the Diamondbacks ahead. It was a disappointing performance for Jackson on a rare night in which his teammates gave him some help.
Key stat: Xavier Nady has one hit in his last 29 at-bats and is now batting .123 for the season.
Up next: Ross Detwiler looks to bounce back following his first shaky start of the season, taking on 2011 NL Cy Young Award runner-up Ian Kennedy at 7:05 p.m. in the finale of this series.

Wilson Ramos returns to Nationals, Severino sent to minors

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Wilson Ramos returns to Nationals, Severino sent to minors

Catcher Wilson Ramos has returned to the Nationals after spending five days on MLB's bereavement list due to the death of his grandfather Jesus Campos. Catcher Pedro Severino was sent back to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Ramos.

Ramos, 28, returns to the Nats with a .316 average, two homers and eight RBI in 15 games this season. He has the second-best average on the team this season behind second baseman Daniel Murphy.

Ramos left the Nationals on April 26 after hearing of his grandfather's death. The Nationals' lineup struggled initially with Ramos out, but has since recovered to score 11 runs in their first two games at the St. Louis Cardinals. Ramos is not in the lineup Sunday as the Nats aim for a sweep.

Jose Lobaton has been filling in most for Ramos and on Monday Gio Gonzalez is set to pitch. Lobaton has caught Gonzalez exclusively so far this season.

Ramos caught Gonzalez 11 times last season out of 30 total starts. The combo produced a 4.52 ERA in 61 2/3 innings. Gonzalez held a 3.39 mark in 114 innings with Lobaton.

Gio has worked mostly with Lobaton since the catcher was acquired by the Nats before the 2014 season, but has been very good with both catchers in his career. He holds a career 3.25 ERA and .241 BAA with Lobaton and a 3.42 ERA and .247 BAA with Ramos.

NL East: Marlins' Stanton hit scoreboard with HR at Brewers' stadium

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NL East: Marlins' Stanton hit scoreboard with HR at Brewers' stadium

Giancarlo Stanton blasted a 462-foot homer on Saturday at Miller Park, the second-longest home run any player has hit so far this season.

This particular shot bounced off the massive scoreboard in center field in Milwaukee. Stanton knew he had it as soon as it left the bat. 

According to MLB's StatCast, the ball left Stanton's bat at a speed of 116.8 miles per hour. The only homer hit this season with an exit velocity of 117 or higher was by Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies.

Check out Stanton's bomb:

Scherzer, Martinez square off as Nats aim to sweep Cardinals

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Scherzer, Martinez square off as Nats aim to sweep Cardinals

Nats (16-7) vs. Cardinals (12-12) at Busch Stadium

The Nationals enter Sunday with a chance to do something they've never done before, sweep the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. It is an unexpected turn of events after they were swept by the Phillies in their previous series, but here we are. 

The Nats will aim for the sweep in a game with quite the starting pitching matchup in store. Max Scherzer (2-1, 4.35) will face off against one of the best young hurlers in the game, right-hander Carlos Martinez (4-0, 1.93). Martinez throws triple-digit heat and has held opponents to a .162 batting average against this year.

Scherzer has been one of baseball's best pitchers in recent seasons, but is off to a rough start this year. He aims to bounce back from a four-walk performance his last time out against the Phillies.

For the Nats, Michael Taylor and Ryan Zimmerman are getting the day off. The rest of their lineup, though, is as expected. 

First pitch: 2:15 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Max Scherzer vs. Cardinals - Carlos Martinez

NATS

CF Matt den Dekker
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Bryce Harper
2B Daniel Murphy
LF Jayson Werth
1B Clint Robinson
SS Danny Espinosa
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Max Scherzer

CARDINALS

3B Matt Carpenter
RF Stephen Piscotty
LF Matt Holliday
1B Brandon Moss
C Yadier Molina
CF Randall Grichuk
2B Kolten Wong
SS Aledmys Diaz
RHP Carlos Martinez

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