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Instant analysis: Braves 5, Nats 4

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Instant analysis: Braves 5, Nats 4

Game in a nutshell: Less than 24 hours after a nip-and-tuck, tense ballgame to open this series, the two division rivals did it again, only this time with a bit of controversy thrown in for good measure. The Nationals jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks to Adam LaRoche's 30th homer and some horribly sloppy Atlanta defense, but then gave all four runs back. Three of them were officially charged to Edwin Jackson; the other might as well have been charged to Marvin Hudson. The first base umpire blew a call on what appeared to be a routine 1-3 groundout, saying LaRoche's foot came off the bag. LaRoche protested, as did Davey Johnson, who earned his first ejection of the season. Moments later, Jason Heyward belted the game-tying home run, leaving this one knotted 4-4 heading into the late innings. That's when the Nationals bullpen imploded, with Ryan Mattheus issuing two walks to load the bases in the eighth and then grazing Andrelton Simmons with a 2-2 fastball to force across the go-ahead run. Craig Kimbrel then finished it off for another save, stranding the tying run on third base, sending the Nats to their second straight 1-run loss and dropping their lead in the NL East to 6 12 games.

Hitting lowlight: Given the way they stormed out of the gates to score four early runs, the Nationals looked to be in business. But their bats went silent after the second inning, unable to push another run across the plate against Tommy Hanson or the Atlanta bullpen. They didn't strike out nearly as many times as they did last night, but they did fail to make contact in some key spots. Danny Espinosa, in particular, struggled, whiffing three times (making him 0-for-7 with seven K's in the series) and stranding a runner on third with two outs in the third.

Pitching lowlight: Making his first career start in his hometown, Jackson was mostly in control. The only real mistakes he made through his first five innings were to Freddie Freeman, who tripled in the second and then homered in the fourth. But then came the blown call by Hudson to lead off the sixth, leading to Johnson's ejection, but perhaps more importantly a rattled Jackson. He immediately served up a two-run homer to Heyward, tying the game and completely changing the momentum of the game. On one hand, there was nothing Jackson could do about the blown call. On the other hand, a veteran of his stature has to be able to shake off adversity like that and refocus on the task at hand. Jackson wasn't able to, and because of it, he missed an opportunity to earn his 10th win of the season.

Key stat: There are now three big-league first basemen with 30 homers this season: Edwin Encarnacion, Albert Pujols and Adam LaRoche.

Up next: The series wraps up tomorrow night with a nationally televised showdown between the two division rivals. Gio Gonzalez seeks his 20th victory, with fellow lefty Mike Minor on the mound for Atlanta. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. on ESPN.

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Bryce Harper sends 'Wow' tweet after Nationals trade for Adam Eaton

Bryce Harper sends 'Wow' tweet after Nationals trade for Adam Eaton

Nationals star Bryce Harper has had an eventful week, which included finding out that he might not be the Nationals star much longer. 

An anonymous club executive said that the Nationals won't meet Harper's demands for a 10-year, $400 million contract, and are prepared to let him walk when he becomes a free agent after the 2018 season. 

That happened on Monday, then on Tuesday Washington missed out on trading from White Sox ace Chris Sale, who ended up going to Boston. 

And then on Wednesday, the Nats ended up trading their pile of top pitching prospects to the White Sox anyway, but instead of getting Sale, they got centerfielder Adam Eaton

Eaton, 28, has never been an All-Star. But he finished last season with a .284 batting average, .362 slugging percentage, 59 RBIs and 14 home runs. He's also an asset defensively in the outfield. 

But the pitching prospects Washington gave up – Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning – amounted to a steep price for Eaton. So steep that the Nats reportedly offered almost the same package of prospects for Sale. 

Within minutes of the Eaton trade news breaking, Harper tweeted this. 

He followed it up with a message of welcome a few minutes later.

Obviously, the initial tweet is what grabbed peoples' attention. But who can really say if Harper meant it as a positive or negative reaction to the Eaton trade? Frankly, it might not have anything to do with the trade at all. 

Plenty of other "wow" things happened this week. 

MORE NATIONALS: Dusty Baker takes part in “Play Ball” clinics in D.C.

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Nationals deal top prospects Giolito, Lopez and Dunning to White Sox for Adam Eaton

Nationals deal top prospects Giolito, Lopez and Dunning to White Sox for Adam Eaton

The Washington Nationals were unable to trade the farm to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for former Cy Young winner Chris Sale. But still looking to make a splash, the Nationals went back to the White Sox, and have made a deal.

Multiple sources have confirmed that the Nationals will trade Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning to the White Sox for outfielder Adam Eaton, pending physicals.

Eaton, 28 years old, will be entering his sixth season, having played two seasons with the Diamondbacks and two season with the White Sox.

Eaton has never made an All-Star team, but has a solid OBP of .357 and has back-to-back seasons of 14 home runs and at least 50 RBIs. He also has a very friendly contract, having recently signed a five-year, $23.5 million contract.

In return, the White Sox get a treasure trove of prospects.

Giolito is the top prospect in the Nationals' organization and one of the top prospects in all of MLB. He appeared in six games for the nationals in 2016, finishing with a 6.75 ERA and 11 strikeouts. Lopez, the No. 4 prospect in the organization, appeared in 11 games in 2016, finishing with a 4.91 ERA and 42 strikeouts.

Dunning, one of the ace of the Florida Gators' staff, was selected by the Nationals with the 29th pick of the 2016 MLB Draft.

But considering the Nationals were willing to give up numerous top prospects for Chris Sale or Andrew McCutchen, it's puzzling that the Nationals would receive just Eaton in return.

Heading into the 2016 winter meetings, it was well known that the Nationals were interested in making a big splash and shaking things up.

It looks like they're doing just that.