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Nats, 'Sun Monster' get revenge vs. Brewers

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Nats, 'Sun Monster' get revenge vs. Brewers

Playing at home against the Brewers with the Atlanta Braves enjoying a day off, the Nationals were given a chance to create some separation and lower their magic number to win the division to five. The previous day they had lost to Milwaukee with the help of a few unfortunate encounters with the sun on outfield fly balls. But on this day, it was the Brewers who felt its wrath.

You know, you gotta be lucky. We were lucky today. It really probably cost them the game today and cost us the game yesterday, Jayson Werth said.

I don't remember a worse sun field, worse sun conditions. Left field in San Fran is tough, but this borders on ridiculous. Ive never seen anything like it. You almost dont have a chance out there as the game goes on.

Not only was Werth one of the Nationals players who lost a ball in the sun in Sundays loss, it was he who hit the fly ball that Carlos Gomez lost in Mondays 12-2 win. Werth stepped to the plate in the fourth inning to face Brewers starter Marco Estrada with Jordan Zimmermann on second and Kurt Suzuki on first. He popped a towering fly ball to center field where Gomez jogged in to get under it. Gomez sidestepped slowly before realizing he had lost it and ended up diving in a last attempt to catch the ball. Both men on base scored as the Nationals took a 4-1 lead.

The two-out rally continued as Bryce Harper walked to join Werth on base. After a double steal by Werth and Harper, Ryan Zimmerman crushed a three-run homer to right-center to blow open the game and give the Nationals an early sigh of relief against one of the leagues hottest teams.

My guys feel it. Theres no doubt about it. The ballclub, we ran into a hot club. Theyre swinging the bats awfully good, Davey Johnson said.

We needed to hold our own with them and we did. So its a good win to go on this road trip six days against a couple good ballclubs, too. I mean, theyre feeling it.

The timing was good but so perhaps was the nature of the win. Nearly every player on the lineup card today contributed on offense and defense, even pitcher Jordan Zimmermann.

The Nats starter gave up one earned run in 6 23 innings of work, a solo home run by Corey Hart on the very first pitch of the second inning. After that he settled down and kept Milwaukee scoreless until he was hooked after his 106th pitch of the afternoon. He finished with four hits and two walks allowed with seven strikeouts.

On offense Zimmermann also pitched in by going two for three with a pair of singles. He led off the third inning with his first hit and knocked in the teams second run with a two-out grounder up the middle in the fourth inning.

As a pitcher he is now 12-8 on the season with a 2.90 ERA through 189 13 innings.

I was throwing the fastball for strikes and getting ahead. When I do that, I feel like I can control the game and throw what I want when I want. Tonight I was able to do that, he said.

As a hitter he had two hits, a run, and an RBI.

Its awesome. Anytime I can get on base is good. I saw a curveball and hit it up the middle and the other one was a fastball or I dont know, maybe a changeup I broke my bat on and blooped it out there.

Zimmermanns all-around day also just happened to come against his hometown team.

Its definitely good to beat the Brewers. Everyone back home was probably cheering for the Brewers, so hopefully I put em in their place a little bit.

As much as Zimmermann did for the team on Monday, it was Ryan Zimmerman who had the biggest impact. The Nationals third baseman also added an RBI in the eighth inning on a fly ball to right. Two runners scored on the play as Milwaukees Norichika Aoki made an error fielding the ball. Zimmerman had two runs on the day and now has 24 homers, 90 runs, and 93 RBI on the season.

Next up for the Nationals is a three game series with the Phillies, a team they will see in six of their final nine games. The magic number is at five as Atlanta gets set to host the Miami Marlins. Winning the division has been their goal for quite some time and with each win they get one step closer.

Were getting close. Weve just got to take it one game at a time and not try to look too far ahead. Just go to Philly and try to take care of business there and see what happens, Zimmermann said.

NOTES: Ian Desmond stole his 20th base of the season in the fifth inning to become only the second Nats player to do so since the club moved to D.C. (Alfonso Soriano in 2006) Eury Perez had his first major league hit in the ninth inning when he ran out an infield groundball.

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Nats name Giolito as Sunday starter vs. Padres, Ross to rehab soon

Nats name Giolito as Sunday starter vs. Padres, Ross to rehab soon

The mystery of who will pitch the series finale for the Nationals against the Padres on Sunday is over, as manager Dusty Baker revealed the team's plans to call up top prospect Lucas Giolito to make his third career MLB start.

With Giolito on his way to Washington, the Nationals will have to determine a corresponding move. And three players - Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Ross and Sammy Solis - all nearing their returns from the disabled list, there could be a lot of shuffling on the Nats' roster in the coming days and weeks.

Giolito, 22, joins the Nats after making one start at Triple-A Syracuse. Through two big league starts this season he has a 4.70 ERA across 7 2/3 innings. Both of his outings came against the New York Mets.

Zimmerman (left ribcage strain) has made two rehab appearances with the Single-A Potomac Nationals. He went 2-for-4 with a double in his first game and 1-for-5 with two RBI and a run in his second. He was set to play his third game with the P-Nats on Saturday evening.

Solis also played with Potomac on Friday night and struck out three in a scoreless inning. He will now move on to Single-A Hagerstown to continue his rehab back from right knee inflammation.

"Solis, he pitched yesterday and said it went well. He's going to throw again tomorrow," Baker said. "Him and Joe are both going to throw at Hagerstown. We'll keep our fingers crossed that that works out well, too."

Ross will be making his first rehab appearance with Hagerstown on Sunday as he works his way back from right shoulder inflammation. He has been on the disabled list since July 3.

The Nationals chose Giolito to start over Reynaldo Lopez, one of their other hard-throwing prospects. Lopez pitched against the Dodgers on Tuesday and gave up six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.

Lopez was brought up to replace Giolito's spot in the rotation for his July 19 debut after the Nats determined Giolito needed more work in the minors. They sent him to Syracuse hoping he could work on his fastball command and his curveball. Giolito responded with 6 2/3 innings and only one unearned run in his lone outing in Triple-A.

[RELATED: Nats' Trea Turner on his speed and how he got so fast]

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Scherzer, Nats face off against Padres, former Nats P Edwin Jackson

Scherzer, Nats face off against Padres, former Nats P Edwin Jackson

Nationals (57-40) vs. Padres (42-55) at Nationals Park

Losers of four out of their last five, the Nationals are back at it on Saturday night hoping to get back on track against the San Diego Padres. Working in their favor is the fact Max Scherzer (10-6, 2.94) is on the mound.

Scherzer has been excellent recently with a 2.16 ERA in his last 13 starts. He struck out 10 in six innings of one-run ball against the Padres back on June 18, albeit in a Nats loss.

Pitching for the Padres will be former Nationals starter Edwin Jackson, who was a member of the 2012 club that won 98 games and the NL East.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Max Scherzer vs. Padres - Edwin Jackson

NATS

CF Ben Revere
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
RF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
1B Clint Robinson
3B Anthony Rendon
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Max Scherzer

PADRES

CF Travis Jankowski
1B Wil Myers
RF Matt Kemp
3B Yangervis Solarte
LF Melvin Upton
2B Ryan Schimpf
C Christian Bethancourt
SS Alexei Ramirez
RHP Edwin Jackson

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Mired in a tough season, Revere hopes he can become table setter Nats need

Mired in a tough season, Revere hopes he can become table setter Nats need

Prior to 2016, the notion of having a down season was completely foreign to Ben Revere. All he had been as a big leaguer was the prototypical leadoff man. He was a sparkplug for the offenses of his previous three teams, and hadn't finished a season with a batting average lower than .305 since 2013.

But ever since his first regular season swing as a member of the Nationals — one that resulted in an Opening Day oblique injury and a month-long disabled list stint — it seems the 28-year-old centerfielder has spent much of his inaugural campaign in D.C. simply trying to reclaim his old self.

“All [my teammates] say its tough to get your good rhythm in the middle of a season, but I'm out there battling my tail off,” Revere said after an 0-for-5 in Friday night’s 5-3 loss to the San Diego Padres. “[I’m] definitely coming off a serious injury that could jeopardize your swing a little bit.”

In the two and a half months since Revere’s return from the DL, he hasn’t set the table atop the order like the Nats need him to, slashing .214/.259/.298 with 19 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 60 games. His strikeouts are down, which is the norm for him, but he’s been unusually ineffective when he does make contact. His batting average of balls in play (BABIP) is .230 — the lowest for any Nats hitter with at least 130 at-bats. A big reason for that is because pitchers have negated his speed by inducing him to hit the ball in the air more often. According to Fangraphs.com, his fly ball percentage is up to 27.1, by far a career-high.

“That’s not his game. They want him up in the air,” manager Dusty Baker said. “They don’t want him on the ground. They don’t want him to the opposite field. They want him in the air.”

“I'm seeing the ball good, just results ain't happening,” Revere said. “Missing some pitches, fouling them off usually, I'll hit the other way, hit it up the middle and bean balls into the ground, usually I get out but at least I hit them hard.”

What’s even tougher for Revere is that the team no longer appears willing to wait out his struggles. Not only has Baker replaced him with Michael Taylor on days when the Nats face off against a lefty starter, but top infield prospect Trea Turner has been learning to play center as a way to get his bat into the lineup instead. And with the non-waiver trade deadline fast approaching, there’s talk that Washington could be in the mix to add another outfielder.

All those factors have added up to a season of frustration for a player who’s rarely faced this kind of adversity.

“[This is my] first time I've gone through this struggle in my professional career,” he said, “I'll be on my knees, keep praying [it gets better]. Hopefully one of these games will get me going and help this team get some more W's.”

The January trade to acquire Revere from the Toronto Blue Jays for struggling reliever Drew Storen was widely viewed as a steal for Nats GM Mike Rizzo. The move doesn't look as good six months later, but there's still a third of the season left to change the narrative. 

“Dusty's going to give me plenty of at-bats and I'm going to do everything I can to bust my tail, no matter what," Revere said. "This team, they have my back.”