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Strasburg looks to stop Nats' losing streak

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Strasburg looks to stop Nats' losing streak

PITTSBURGH -- One of the responsibilities that comes with the title of "staff ace" is the task of stopping a losing streak. Such is the position Stephen Strasburg finds himself in tonight, taking the mound at PNC Park with the Nationals mired in a three-game losing streak and in danger of getting swept by the Pirates.

Strasburg, of course, can only control how many runs he gives up. He can't control how many runs the Nationals score. Or how many balls they put into play. So plenty of the onus will be on Davey Johnson's lineup, which tonight includes only one minor tweak.

Roger Bernadina will bat second, with Bryce Harper moved down to the 5-hole. The logic, I assume, is that the Pirates won't be able to pitch around cleanup hitter Adam LaRoche like they did last night. But the downside is that Harper may not see a whole lot of pitches to hit himself with the ice-cold Danny Espinosa hitting behind him.

Should make for some interesting discussion. Please check back for updates and analysis throughout...

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Where: PNC Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Partly cloudy, 58 degrees, Wind 13 mph out to CF

NATIONALS (18-12)
SS Ian Desmond
LF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Bryce Harper
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
C Jesus Flores
RHP Stephen Strasburg

PIRATES (14-16)
RF Jose Tabata
LF Alex Presley
CF Andrew McCutchen
3B Pedro Alvarez
2B Neil Walker
1B Garrett Jones
SS Clint Barmes
C Michael McKenry
RHP Kevin Correia

UMPIRES
HP Phil Cuzzi, 1B Greg Gibson, 2B Vic Carapazza, 3B Gerry Davis (cc)

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Washington Nationals celebrate NL East title

Washington Nationals celebrate NL East title

Two things had to happen for the Nationals to clinch the NL East title Saturday night. They had to beat the Pirates, and the Mets had to lose to the Phillies.

Both of those things happened, and the Nats wasted no time getting the celebration going. 

And they kept it going. 

Bryce Harper sported a Katie Ledecky swim cap to protect his flow from the flying liquid.

Then the team left the clubhouse, apparently to go roam Pittsburgh and find some Nats fans to celebrate with.

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Bryce Harper celebrates courtesy of Katie Ledecky in post-game celebration

Bryce Harper celebrates courtesy of Katie Ledecky in post-game celebration

Bryce Harper always talks about loving Washington, D.C. and after winning another NL East crown, he honored one of the local legends from the Rio games.

Katie Ledecky was one of the stars of the Olympics and the Bethesda resident appears to have given Harper a swimcap to celebrate clinching the NL East.

She reached out to Harper on twitter and appreciated the MVP sporting the swim cap.