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Hammel leads Orioles over Nationals

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Hammel leads Orioles over Nationals

By Rich DubroffCSNwashington.com

Before the game, the mascots tussled. The Oriole Bird stole the cap from Screechs head. The fans cheered.Unlike last months series at Nationals Park, this crowd was dominated by Orioles rooters. Many didnt even notice that Davey Johnson had brought out the lineup card in his return.The 45,891 in attendance at Oriole Park were treated to an excellent game, and the Orioles won 2-1 on Friday night, thanks to another outstanding performance from Jason HammelAfter one-hitting Atlanta in his last appearance, Hammel (8-2) pitched eight innings, allowing just an unearned run and five hits in eight innings, striking out 10 and walking none. And Jordan Zimmermann wasnt bad, allowing two runs and eight hits in seven innings. Zimmermann (3-6) again suffered from little run support. He hasnt won in his last five decisions, and the Nationals (40-28) havent scored more than three runs in any of those starts. In the second, Mark Reynolds, who hit a team-leading 37 home runs last year, launched his sixth of the year off Jordan Zimmermann.The Nationals tied it in the fifth. Ian Desmond led off with a single. With one out, Roger Bernadina grounded to third. As Wilson Betemit threw to Reynolds at first, Desmond took off for second and then headed for third. Reynolds fired the ball to Betemit, who wasnt in position to take the throw, and it skipped passed him, allowing Desmond to score.In the bottom of the fifth, Zimmermann hit Nick Johnson with a pitch. With two outs, Brian Roberts singled and J.J. Hardy doubled to score Johnson for a 2-1 lead.In the seventh, Desmond singled with one out. Danny Espinosa followed with another. Hammel struck out Roger Bernadina and then Jesus Flores lined a ball that looked as if it was going to be a game-changing single, but Hardy leaped and snared it, saving the lead.Jim Johnson picked up his 21st save, pitching a scoreless ninth.The Orioles (40-30) have won three of four against the Nationals ths season.NOTES:-The game was delayed for 61 minutes by the threat of thunderstorms. Some rain fell early in the game.-The Orioles Chris Davis is 0-for-22.-On Saturday, Wei Yin-Chen (7-2, 3.36) will start for the Orioles. Edwin Jackson (3-4, 3.02) starts for the Nationals. Game time is 7:15 p.m. The game will be telecast on FOX. Bob Carpenter and Tom Verducci will be the broadcasters.

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X-ray on Nationals' star Bryce Harper's left thumb brings good news

X-ray on Nationals' star Bryce Harper's left thumb brings good news

The Nationals got a dose of good news on a night All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos went down with a potentially serious knee injury, as Bryce Harper's X-ray came back negative, meaning there are no broken bones in his left thumb.

Harper, 23, suffered the injury sliding into third base on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh. He had the X-ray on Monday morning and the team is of course pleased to hear the results.

"He could be back within a couple days, a few days. That’s big right there," manager Dusty Baker said. "The swelling’s down, so I think his strength is up, I heard. It’s very positive. We still got time for him to get well.”

Getting Harper back soon would be huge for a Nationals team that just saw Ramos go down and recently saw Daniel Murphy injure his left buttock and Stephen Strasburg strain his right flexor mass.

Murphy's injury is also not expected to be serious. Baker even said on Monday that it's "very likely" he will be ready to go for the playoffs. But that's four of the Nats' five All-Stars now injured to varying degrees with just six games left in the regular season.

At least with Harper, they may have dodged a bullet.

[RELATED: Ramos set for MRI as Nats hope injury isn't serious]

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Wilson Ramos set for MRI as Nats hope and pray injury isn't serious

Wilson Ramos set for MRI as Nats hope and pray injury isn't serious

The Nationals know this feeling all too well, the anxious wait for test results to determine the severity of an injury to a star player. The latest, with All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos, includes an MRI set for Tuesday morning.

Ramos suffered a right knee injury on Monday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the top of the sixth inning, the same knee in which he tore his ACL and MCL back in May of 2012. Ironically, Nationals manager Dusty Baker was also there for that one, in Cincinnati as the skipper of the Reds.

The Nats will hope and pray that this time it's not as serious.

"He doesn’t look too good tonight," Baker said. "You could tell he was in pain. We have to wait till tomorrow to come up with something definitive.”

Ramos buckled to the ground and pointed to his knee after a relay throw to home by Ryan Zimmerman sailed high over Ramos' head and required him to jump to catch it. The Nationals were playing on a wet field following a 20-minute rain delay and they believe the injury could be related.

“That probably had something to do with it. Yeah. Last time he hurt his leg it wasn’t an impact play either," Baker said. "We just got to pray for Wilson and hopefully he’s OK.”

The Nationals have already seen Stephen Strasburg go down with a right flexor mass strain, an injury that has put his postseason availability in question. Bryce Harper is currently out with a jammed left thumb. And Daniel Murphy has been out of the starting lineup for seven straight games with a strained left buttock.

Harper received good news on Monday that his X-ray was negative, but that's four of the team's five 2016 All-Stars who are banged up with just six games and 10 days left to go until the playoffs begin.

That's an unusual string of bad luck at a bad time to have it.

"My dad told me, ‘Don’t say what else can go wrong because something else can go wrong.’ I’m thinking what else can go right? I don’t think like that. I don’t allow myself to think like that," Baker said. 

"Those thoughts come into everybody’s head, but you’ve got to dispel them and try to figure out a way to get out of this mess. Bryce’s X-rays came out negative, so that’s a positive note in itself. It just seems like down this stretch you lose a guy, gain a guy. Like Stephen Drew. I’m glad we got Stephen Drew back. And who knows? Somebody else might step up and be the hero, the least likely of people. That’s how I think.”

Ramos earned his All-Star nod with a breakout season at the plate. He's batting .307 with 22 homers, 80 RBI and an .850 OPS. He has the lowest catcher's ERA in baseball and has emerged as one of the best backstops in the game, right before he's set to hit free agency this winter for the first time in his career.

Losing Ramos would be devastating for the Nationals at this point in the year.

"He’s a leader of this team. It’s a tough break, really is," Drew said. "It didn’t look too good. My thoughts and all these guys on this team hope for the best for him and we’ll be thinking about him.”

Everyone in the Nationals' clubhouse is pulling for Ramos, but Baker knows the Nats will have to keep going if his injury is serious. Backup catchers Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino will have to step up in his absence, however long it is.

"I feel badly because you know how we all feel about Wilson, but it’s part of the game," Baker said. "You hate (for) it to happen this late, right before the playoffs, but our next step is try to figure out a way to play without Wilson. I’ve been mixing and matching this year and most of my life. Therefore it’s another obstacle and I just got to try to go back to the drawing board and figure out something."

[RELATED: Nationals on playing the Dodgers in NL Division Series round]

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