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Padres squash Nationals

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Padres squash Nationals

Game in a nutshell: What looked like an advantageous matchup for the Nationals -- Stephen Strasburg against one of the majors' least-productive lineups -- turned sour right from the get-go. Strasburg surrendered three runs during a rain-delayed top of the first, gave up a homer in the third and never got on track. The Nationals' lineup, meanwhile, was shut down by the heretofore unheralded Anthony Bass. Only Bryce Harper, who connected for his second homer in as many days, managed to deliver for the Nationals.

Hitting highlight: There sure wasn't much to choose from in this category, so the gold star has to go to the kid. Less than 24 hours after clubbing his first career home run, Harper did it again, sending a 1-0 pitch from Bass into the center field bleachers. There was no curtain call this time for the rookie, but Harper did become the first teenager to hit big-league homers on consecutive days since Ken Griffey Jr. did it for the Mariners on May 20-21, 1989.
Pitching lowlight: You had a feeling this might not be Strasburg's day when the game's first batter lofted what looked like a routine fly ball to shallow left-center ... and then wound up on second base with a double after Roger Bernadina, Rick Ankiel and Ian Desmond watched it fall into the Bermuda Triangle. Things only got worse for Strasburg after that, especially after a cloudburst soaked everyone during that torturous first inning, resulting in an 8-minute delay. By the time it finally ended, Strasburg had allowed three runs and thrown a whopping 39 pitches. And because of that, the right-hander lasted only four innings, getting pulled with his pitch count at 81. It matched the second-shortest start of Strasburg's career.

Key stat: After giving up more than three earned runs only three times in their first 34 games this season, the Nationals rotation has now done it twice in as many days.
Up next: After wrapping up a rare, two-game series, the Nationals open another Wednesday night against the Pirates. Left-handers Gio Gonzalez and Erik Bedard square off at 7:05 p.m

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Anthony Rendon's homer lifts Nationals over Diamondbacks

Anthony Rendon's homer lifts Nationals over Diamondbacks

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night at Nationals Park.

How it happened: With All-Star Wilson Ramos now out for the rest of the regular season and playoffs with a torn right ACL, the Nationals will need others to step up and compensate for his loss. On defense, it will be up to Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino. Ramos is an excellent defensive catcher, but his two backups are perfectly capable behind the dish.

On offense is where Ramos' absence will particularly hurt and that was noted by manager Dusty Baker on Tuesday after his diagnosis was revealed. Others in their lineup will have to raise their games to fill the void.

Time will tell how much Ramos is missed, but Tuesday was a good start. The Nationals saw several players contribute to a sixth inning rally that led them to a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Lobaton got them started with a single to right field, the first hit of the night against Arizona rookie Matt Koch, who was making his MLB debut. Stephen Drew later drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. And after that it was Anthony Rendon who gave the Nats the lead with a three-run homer to left field.

That gave the Nationals enough to hand Max Scherzer his 19th win of the season. Scherzer lasted six innings on 98 pitches before he was pulled for a pinch-hitter.

The Nationals bounced back from their blowout loss in the series opener on Monday night and have now won three of four.

What it means: The Nationals improved to 92-65 on the season with just five games remaining.

Scherzer overcomes rocky start: Scherzer was solid on Tuesday night with six innings and two runs allowed on six hits and two walks. But his night didn't start out too well, as Scherzer gave up a solo homer to Jean Segura on the first pitch of the game. He allowed another run on a Welington Castillo double in the top of the third. After that, though, Scherzer settled in to retired seven straight batters with six consecutive strikeouts. 

Scherzer finished with 10 strikeouts on the night to reach double digits for the 13th time this season and the 49th time in his career. He also got to 277 strikeouts on the season to set a new Nationals record, breaking his previous mark of 276 set just last year. Scherzer is the only active pitcher with at least two seasons of 275 strikeouts or more.

Rendon hits No. 19: Rendon's homer was his 19th of the season, two away from the career-high of 21 he set in 2014. It was also the 500th hit of his career. Rendon hasn't had the greatest month when it comes to getting on base, but he's driven plenty of runs in. With his three RBI on Tuesday, Rendon now has 22 for September, a career-high for a single month. He has 51 RBI in 64 games since the All-Star break.

Lobaton, Severino make an impact: Lobaton's hit to lead off the sixth and start their four-run rally was just a single, but was a positive sign for the Nats, who will need him to step up with Ramos out. Lobaton was replaced by Severino as a pinch-runner and Severino then came around to score on Drew's sacrifice fly. That duo may need to split a lot of playing time over the next few weeks and with Lobaton's sore right ankle, Severino could be replacing him on the basepaths late in close games quite often moving forward.

Up next: The Nationals play another 7:05 p.m. start on Wednesday night with lefty Gio Gonzalez (11-10, 4.51) set to face former Braves starter Shelby Miller (2-12, 6.47).

[RELATED: Ramos' ACL tear devastating news for him and Nats]

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Dodgers set rotation for playoff series against Nationals

Dodgers set rotation for playoff series against Nationals

The Nationals have plenty of questions facing their starting rotation as they enter the 2016 postseason, but they now know exactly what the Dodgers will be rolling out for their NL Division Series.

Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts announced the Dodgers' rotation on Tuesday with Clayton Kershaw set for Game 1, Rich Hill for Game 2 and Kenta Maeda for Game 3. Julio Urias is a possibility for Game 4, though Kershaw could always go on short rest.

That's three lefties, with Maeda the only exception. That's also two rookies in Maeda and Urias.

Kershaw getting Game 1 is no surprise, of course. The three-time Cy Young winner and former MVP is the best pitcher in baseball. He's 12-3 with a 1.65 ERA in 20 starts this season and has 168 strikeouts to just 10 walks.

Hill has also been very good with a 2.05 ERA in 19 starts this season. The Dodgers acquired him in a trade with the Athletics on Aug. 1. Hill actually spent part of the 2015 season as part of the Nationals' minor league system.

Maeda has been one of the best rookies this season with a 16-9 record and 3.20 ERA. Urias is not far behind him with a 3.53 ERA through 17 appearances.

The Nationals are likely to pitch Max Scherzer in Game 1 and Tanner Roark in Game 2. Who pitches Game 3 is less clear, though it will be a choice between Joe Ross and Gio Gonzalez. The other could pitch Game 4, unless the Nats decide to start Scherzer again on short rest.

Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to pitch in the series at all, the Nationals revealed on Tuesday. He remains out with a right flexor mass strain.

[Via the Los Angeles Times]