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Instant Analysis: Gio bounces back

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Instant Analysis: Gio bounces back

Game in a nutshell: In a rematch of last week's All-Star pitching showdown, Gio Gonzalez got the best of R.A. Dickey this time around. The Nationals lefty was brilliant, allowing just one unearned run and two hits over seven standout innings. Dickey matched his counterpart pitch for pitch through five innings, but then the floodgates opened. Adam LaRoche launched a two-run homer, one of five consecutive hits by the Nationals off Dickey during a four-run sixth. Manager Davey Johnson pulled Gonzalez after only 87 pitches, and Ryan Mattheus gave everyone a scare when he served up a pinch-hit homer to (who else?) Jordany Valdespin. But Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard slammed the door shut and gave the Nats their fourth straight win. At 57-39, they're 18 games over .500 for the first time this season.

Hitting highlight: How hard is it to hit Dickey's knuckleball? Very hard. Just look at the way most of the Nationals flailed away at the veteran's trademark pitch for five innings. But then LaRoche got a hold of one in the top of the sixth and sent it flying deep into the Flushing night. It finally landed in the second deck above the right-field fence, a bomb from the veteran first baseman for his 17th homer of the season, tied with Ian Desmond for the team lead.

Pitching highlight: Coming off his worst start of the season, Gonzalez might well have authored his best start of the season. The only run he surrendered was unearned, a byproduct of Danny Espinosa's throwing error. He allowed only two hits, both singles. He walked two, struck out four and was incredibly efficient, needing only 87 pitches to complete seven innings. That was exactly what the Nats needed, and it was exactly what Gonzalez needed to get himself back on track after a sub-par month. Not that the club was significantly worried, but everyone understands how important Gio will be to this team's chances down the stretch.

Key stat: The Nats scored more runs off Dickey in the top of the sixth (four) than he had given up in all but four starts this season.

Up next: The series concludes with a Wednesday matinee featuring Stephen Strasburg and Jeremy Hefner. First pitch at Citi Field is bright and early at 12:10 p.m.

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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.