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Instant Analysis: Nats club Cubbies

Instant Analysis: Nats club Cubbies

Game in a nutshell: On the first day of school for many in the region, the Nationals took the Cubs' beleaguered pitching staff to school. They crushed six home runs, racked up 19 hits, knocked rookie starter Chris Rusin out before he recorded an out in the bottom of the second and then feasted on the cavalcade of relievers Dale Sveum sent to the mound. Edwin Jackson wasn't in top form, but he struck out eight batters and made it through 5 23 innings to earn his ninth win. The rest was fairly academic, with the Nationals bullpen finishing this game off and putting them 31 games over .500 to match their high-point of the season. With the Braves' loss to the Rockies, the Nats now lead the NL East by a season-high 7 12 games. Their magic number for the division title is down to 20.

Hitting highlight: How do you pick just one highlight from an offensive explosion like this? How about we pick six: the six home runs the Nationals hit against a merry-go-round of Cubs pitchers. Ian Desmond went opposite-field in the first for his 20th of the season. Jesus Flores found the Red Porch in the second for his fifth of the season. Adam LaRoche also deposited one in the Red Porch for his 26th of the season (and third in four days). Tyler Moore followed two batters later with a moonshot to left for his eighth of the year. Ryan Zimmerman went opposite-field for his 18th this year. And LaRoche put the finishing touches on this explosive night with his second of the game, fourth in four days, 27th of the year. Put it all together and you've got history: The first time a D.C. ballclub has ever hit six home runs in a home game.

Pitching highlight: No disrespect to Jackson, who was dominant at times (striking out five in a row at one point), but let's show some love here to Christian Garcia. Making his major-league debut at age 27, the two-time Tommy John surgery survivor faced only one batter and threw only three pitches. But those three pitches were mighty impressive. Each registered at least 95 mph. And the last of them induced a pop-up to quash a potential Cubs rally in the sixth inning. Sure, it was a short debut, but it certainly was a sweet debut for a guy who worked tirelessly to get the opportunity.

Key stat: In 27 games since he returned from the disabled list, Jayson Werth has scored 22 runs. Over a 162-game season, that would equate to 132 runs.

Up next: Gio Gonzalez will be seeking his 18th win of the season tomorrow night when he goes up against Cubs right-hander Chris Volstad at 7:05 p.m.

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Nationals avoid arbitration, reach deal with Bryce Harper and three others

Nationals avoid arbitration, reach deal with Bryce Harper and three others

The Washington Nationals avoided arbitration and agreed to one-year deals today with Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Tanner Roark and newly acquired catcher Derek Norris.

If team's and players didn't agree to contracts by today's 1 p.m. ET deadline, an independent arbitrator will rule on the contract at a later date and decide how much the player will play for in 2017. 

Harper and the Nationals agreed to a $13.625 million deal, which was significantly more than the $9.3 million contract that was projected by MLB Trade Rumors. Last season, coming off his 2015 MVP campaign, Harper made $5 million. The 24-year-old will be a free agent after the 2018 season. 

Harper is coming off a disappointing season by his standards, in which he hit just .243 with 24 homers, which was way down from his total of 42 dingers in 2015. 

According to multiple reports, Rendon signed for $5.8 million, Roark signed for $4.315 million and Norris' deal was for $4.2 million.

Roark made just $543,400 last season, which he vastly out-performed. Roark was one of the most consistent pitchers in the National League last year as he won 16 games and posted a 2.83 ERA in 210 innings of work. 

With today's signings, all of the Nationals' arbitration-eligible players are under contract for 2017. 

Related: Tanner Roark to replace Max Scherzer on World Baseball Classic roster

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LOOK: Bryce Harper got married in suit jacket lined with pictures of wife

LOOK: Bryce Harper got married in suit jacket lined with pictures of wife

Nationals star Bryce Harper has a bold fashion sense, that's for sure. Just take a look at that hair. But he a more romantic fashion risk for his own wedding with a custom suit jacket. 

He opted for a navy blue tuxedo with black piping. It was the lining that really stood out as special. 

If you look closely, you'll see photos of Harper and his wife, Kayla, decorating the lining of the jacket. 

There's also the date of wedding and script reading "Mr. and Mrs. Harper." 

He credited the makers of his tuxedo, Stitched, in the tweet. 

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals’ Bryce Harper ecstatic to see bride on wedding day