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Nats fall to Orioles in extra innings

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Nats fall to Orioles in extra innings

Game in a nutshell: The first matchup between winning ballclubs from Washington and Baltimore in 42 years lived up to the billing, with Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta dueling each other on the mound. Jackson gave up one early run, then cruised. Arrieta cruised until serving up a solo homer to Ian Desmond in the sixth. That left this game in the hands of both bullpens. Tyler Clippard did his part in the top of the ninth, then Darren O'Day and Troy Patton retired the heart of the Nats' lineup in the bottom of the inning, sending this one to extras. That's when Nick Markakis took matters into his own hands, crushing a pitch from Ryan Mattheus off the facing of the second deck down the right-field line to give the Orioles an 11-inning victory before an energetic crowd of 36,680.
Hitting lowlight: They tried all night to get something going at the plate. In the end, Desmond's solo homer in the sixth represented the entirety of the Nationals' offensive effort. There were missed opportunities, and there was plenty of poor execution, especially during a failed seventh-inning rally. After Bryce Harper led off with a walk, Danny Espinosa fouled off a bunt with two strikes and Rick Ankiel and Jesus Flores each popped out.
Pitching highlight: The night started off really poorly for Jackson, who walked Xavier Avery to open the top of the first and then fell behind No. 2 hitter J.J. Hardy 3-0. But credit to the right-hander for bouncing back in a big-time way after that. Jackson didn't walk another batter all night and struck out eight over eight splendid innings. He also kept his pitch count to a relatively low 95, flashing shades of his complete-game win from last month.
Key stat: Desmond now has six homers. The only major-league shortstop with more this season is the Orioles' Hardy (nine).

Up next: Game 2 of this interleague series features a couple of starters who have surprised so far this season. Left-hander Ross Detwiler (3-2, 2.75) starts for the Nats against right-hander Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.68) for the Orioles. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m., with the game televised on Fox.

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Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract

On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop. 

It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series. 

Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster. 

Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.

The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda. 

There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others

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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