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All-Star door opens back up for Bryce

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All-Star door opens back up for Bryce

He's spent the better part of the last three days insisting he didn't deserve to go to the All-Star Game over Chipper Jones, but Bryce Harper doesn't have to worry about that anymore. And the Nationals rookie outfielder might just wind up in Kansas City next week after all.

Major League Baseball announced this evening that Jones has been added to the NL All-Star roster, taking the spot of injured Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. That removes Jones from the five-man "Final Vote" competition that also includes Harper, and perhaps paves the way for the 19-year-old to win the online balloting process and a ticket to the Midsummer Classic.

Harper sat in third place when MLB released its first balloting results earlier today, behind Jones and Cardinals third baseman David Freese but ahead of Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill and Braves outfielder Michael Bourn. He'll still need to leapfrog Freese before voting ends at 4 p.m. Thursday, but perhaps he'll experience a surge now that fans don't need to take his advice and vote for Jones instead.

Earlier today, Harper reiterated his belief that Jones (who announced he'll retire at season's end) should be in this year's All-Star Game.

"I think so, definitely," he said. "He's a Hall of Famer and he's been an All-Star for 20 years. He's the face of that Braves franchise, and for his last year, I think he should be able to be in that game, definitely."

Though he'd happily accept an All-Star berth and a chance to play alongside the game's best next week in Kansas City, Harper also admits he wouldn't mind some downtime at home in Las Vegas over the break.

"I'm excited to go home, definitely," he said. "I think if I don't make the team, it'd be good for me to go home and get away from the world and just be Bryce, be normal. Just hang out with the family and get some home-cooked meals and hit with my Pop and just hang out."

Manager Davey Johnson seemed to have even stronger feelings on the matter, preferring that his rookie get a physical and mental break after starting in all but one game since he joined the Nationals on April 28.

"I'm sure he'll get banged up, but I don't think he's tired," Johnson said. "But I would like to see him get the time off. Because it is a demanding position. And even every time I get a chance, I'll move him to one of the corners to basically just rest his legs."

As for the now-defunct Jones vs. Harper argument, Johnson didn't hide his feelings.

"I think Chipper should be on it, period," the manager said. "Not somebody with 200 at-bats, first year."

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Nationals beat Braves, snap losing skid behind Stephen Strasburg's strong start

Nationals beat Braves, snap losing skid behind Stephen Strasburg's strong start

ATLANTA (AP) -- Stephen Strasburg struck out a season-high 11 and kept up his recent domination of the Atlanta Braves, leading Washington to a 3-2 win Sunday that stopped the Nationals' four-game losing streak.

Strasburg (5-1) allowed five hits in 7 2/3 innings, beating Atlanta for the second time this season and improving to 7-1 in his last nine starts against the Braves. He is 10-8 overall against Atlanta.

He reached double digits in strikeouts for the second time this season after fanning 10 Braves on April 20.

Strasburg faded in the eighth, when Dansby Swanson hit a two-run double. Koda Glover struck out Nick Markakis to end the inning and finished the six-hitter for his third save.

Daniel Murphy hit a second-inning homer off Jaime Garcia (1-3) and the Nationals added two unearned runs in the third.

Matt Adams was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and hit into a ninth-inning double play in his debut for Atlanta, a day after he was acquired from St. Louis. Matt Kemp led off the ninth, and Adams hit a line drive that was caught by Ryan Zimmerman, who stepped on first base.

Garcia allowed three runs -- one earned -- and seven hits in eight innings with no walks.

Washington took a 3-0 lead in the third following fielding errors by Markakis in right and Garcia. Bryce Harper had a run-scoring single.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 3B Anthony Rendon and C Matt Wieters were given days off from the starting lineup. Rendon entered at third base in the eighth.

Braves: RHP Kris Medlen allowed one hits in six scoreless innings Saturday in his first start for Class A Florida. He missed most of 2016 with shoulder problems after his second Tommy John surgery. "That would be a real nice piece to have," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. Medlen pitched for Kansas City in 2015-16 and his last season with Atlanta was in 2013, when he was 15-12 with a 3.11 ERA.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Following an off day, RHP Jacob Turner (2-2) is expected to start when the Nationals will open a series against Seattle on Tuesday.

Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (2-4) will take a 0-3 career record in three starts against Pittsburgh into Monday night's series opener against the Pirates.

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2017 MLB Power Rankings: As Bryce Harper goes, so do the Nationals

2017 MLB Power Rankings: As Bryce Harper goes, so do the Nationals

A week ago, the Nationals were looking unstoppable. Bryce Harper was hitting walkoff dingers left and right, there were multiple winning streaks, and the bullpen was only sorta bad. 

2017 MLB POWER RANKINGS

A week's worth of games later - against the Braves, Pirates and Phillies, no less - and the Nats don't look nearly as stainless. Harper's hitting under .200 since his Mother's Day walkoff, the team lost 5 of 6, and the bullpen turned back into a pumpkin. Because of that, there's a new team at the top of the Power Rankings this week. Who is it? To the rankings! 

30. MIAMI MARLINS

2017 Record: 15-28
Previous Ranking: 24
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Notable Performance: Dee Gordon (.318/.400/.364 last week)

Stanton hasn't homered in over two weeks, a stretch of 12 games. After going 2-8 over the last 10, including that weird Dodgers game, the Marlins have seen better weeks.  

29. SAN DIEGO PADRES

2017 Record: 16-30
Previous Ranking: 29
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Notable Performance: Brad Hand (.300/.500/.600 last week)

Wil Myers' underwhelming season continues. The outfielder is hitting .150 over the last week, and only .219 over the last month. The Padres best position player is only worth .6 bWAR, and that's 5th-best on the team.

28. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

2017 Record: 15-26
Previous Ranking: 23
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Notable Performance: Daniel Nava (.429/.429/.571 last week)

They ran into Texas at exactly the wrong time. Getting starts that are consistently like Aaron Nola's last one will be huge for his development this season. 

27. KANSAS CITY ROYALS

2017 Record: 18-25
Previous Ranking: 27
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Notable Performance: Lorenzo Cain (.087/.125/.087 last week)

They're starting to play better, but upcomming series with the Yankees and Indians aren't making life any easier for KC. Jason Vargas (?!) has been their most valuable player this year (2.0 bWAR). 

26. ATLANTA BRAVES

2017 Record: 18-23
Previous Ranking: 30
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Notable Performance: Matt Kemp (.375/.423/.708 last week)

Losing Freeman for three months because of some dumb unspoken beef is just a testament to how stupid unwritten baseball rules are. The silver lining to this year, though, is that the Braves are going to fleece some team for Matt Kemp in July. 

SEE THE REST OF THE RANKINGS HERE