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Instant Analysis: Nationals 9, D'backs 1


Instant Analysis: Nationals 9, D'backs 1

Game in a nutshell: After a four-game sweep against a hapless team in Houston, the Nationals figured to face a stiffer test tonight against an Arizona club trying to hang on in the NL wild-card race. But what began as a tight pitchers' duel between Stephen Strasburg and Trevor Cahill turned into a rout. Ryan Zimmerman launched a two-run homer in the fifth. Michael Morse crushed a solo shot to deep right-center in the sixth. And the Nats piled on in the ninth to run away with it. Strasburg, meanwhile, merely tossed a one-hitter over six strong innings to earn his 13th win of the year. Thus, the Nationals earned their seventh consecutive victory, and at 70-43 they're on pace for 100 wins at season's end.

Hitting highlight: We could highlight the homers by Zimmerman and Morse, each of them towering shots. But how about some love for Steve Lombardozzi? The rookie tripled in the third, singled in the fifth, singled in the seventh and then was credited with another single in the ninth (though pitcher Mike Zagurski may have tagged him on the back before his foot hit the base). Regardless, it was the second time this season Lombardozzi has compiled four hits. He also scored four times, helping lead an impressive offensive attack against the Arizona pitching staff.

Pitching highlight: What would Davey Johnson have done if Strasburg didn't allow a hit through six innings but had a pitch count of 105? We'll never know, but the veteran skipper is probably glad he didn't have to contemplate such a scenario, because he probably would have had to make a very unpopular decision. Despite the dominant numbers, Strasburg wasn't totally sharp during this outing. He uncharacteristically walked four batters and expended a lot of energy (and sweat) throwing those 105 pitches. It's a testament to his overall stuff and ability to pitch that he could still hold a pretty good lineup to one run and one hit over six innings. Sadly, there were no offensive fireworks from the right-hander in this one. Strasburg went 0-for-3 with three groundouts, seeing his batting average plummet from .343 to .316.

Key stat: Nine of Morse's 11 homers this season have been hit to center or right fields. Tonight's blast to right-center traveled 446 feet, the longest opposite-field homer in the majors this season according to ESPN Hit Tracker.

Up next: Game 2 of this series features veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson against left-hander Wade Miley, who at 12-7 with a 2.85 ERA is making a case for NL Rookie of the Year honors. First pitch will be at 8:10 p.m. EDT.

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Harper and Murphy remain out, as Gio makes final playoff tuneup

Harper and Murphy remain out, as Gio makes final playoff tuneup

Nats (92-65) vs. Diamondbacks (65-92) at Nationals Park

The Nationals have reached their final five games of the regular season, which means each start made by their rotation will be that pitcher's final tuneup for the playoffs. On Wednesday, it's Gio Gonzalez (11-10, 4.51) on the mound making his final start before he likely pitches in Game 3 against the Dodgers. The lefty will be making his 32nd start of the season.

That is, of course, if weather permits. Heavy rain is in the forecast and Wednesday night's game could be affected by it. If Gonzalez can't pitch due to the weather, he will skip his start to attend Jose Fernandez' funeral in Florida.

Bryce Harper (thumb) and Daniel Murphy (buttock) remain out of the Nationals' lineup. Harper could have played, but the Nats want to play it safe on the wet field given what happened to Wilson Ramos on Monday.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Gio Gonzalez vs. Diamondbacks - Shelby Miller


2B Trea Turner
CF Ben Revere
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Clint Robinson
LF Jayson Werth
RF Brian Goodwin
SS Danny Espinosa
C Jose Lobaton
LHP Gio Gonzalez


RHP Shelby Miller


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Podcast: 'Baseball in the District' - Can Nats win without Ramos?

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Podcast: 'Baseball in the District' - Can Nats win without Ramos?



It was a tough series of days to begin the week for the Washington Nationals, who saw Wilson Ramos go down with a torn ACL on Monday night and Stephen Strasburg essentially be ruled out for the NL Division Series on Tuesday. Those two developments came on the heels of Bryce Harper's injury on Sunday, though Harper's X-ray did come back negative.

We opened the show this week with a discussion about Ramos and whether the Nats can win the World Series without him. We continued to talk about how the Nats match up with the Dodgers, then finished with thoughts on the tragic loss of Marlins superstar Jose Fernandez.

Feel free to share your opinions with us on Twitter @ChaseHughesCSN and @1TimMurray.

You can listen to the show on ESPN 980's website or download the show on iTunes.

[RELATED: Dodgers set rotation for playoff series against Nationals]