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Beat-up Nats go for sweep of Padres

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Beat-up Nats go for sweep of Padres

Davey Johnson has managed clubs that were forced to deal with injuries, but never quite like this. "This team has been beat up more than any other team I've had," the 69-year-old manager said this morning. And yet the Nationals enter today's series finale against the Padres again in first place in the NL East, convinced they can continue to contend despite the growing disabled list.

The latest player added to the DL, of course, is Sandy Leon, the rookie catcher who suffered a serious ankle sprain last night in the fourth inning of his big-league debut. Leon was officially placed on the 15-day DL today, with 33-year-old veteran Carlos Maldonado promoted from Class AAA Syracuse to become the Nats' new backup catcher. (Starter Wilson Ramos, meanwhile, was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Maldonado.)

The best way to overcome injuries is through pitching, and the Nationals have plenty of that. Today, ace Stephen Strasburg takes the mound to face his hometown team for the first time. Coming off a 13-strikeout performance against the Pirates, Strasburg will look to improve to 4-0 on the season.

There's still some rain in the forecast, but the sun is shining at the moment. Check the Nats Insider game thread for live updates and analysis...

SAN DIEGO PADRES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Scattered storms, 74 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to CF
NATIONALS (22-13)
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

PADRES (12-24)
RF Will Venable
CF Cameron Maybin
3B Chase Headley
1B Yonder Alonso
2B Orlando Hudson
LF James Darnell
C John Baker
SS Andy Parrino
RHP Anthony Bass

UMPIRES
HP Brian Gorman (cc), 1B Tony Randazzo, 2B Alan Porter, 3B Larry Vanover

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Nationals baffled by Dickey's knuckleball in Braves' 3-2 win

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Nationals baffled by Dickey's knuckleball in Braves' 3-2 win

ATLANTA  -- R.A. Dickey frustrated Washington with his knuckleball for eight innings, Ozzie Albies had three hits and the Atlanta Braves beat the Nationals 3-2 on Thursday night.

After Ryan Zimmerman's leadoff homer in the second inning, the 42-year-old Dickey gave up only one hit -- a two-out single by Trea Turner in the third -- over the next five innings. Turner was picked off first base.

Dickey (10-10) gave up two runs, four hits and no walks. He made a strong case that the Braves should pick up his $8 million club option for 2018.

Zimmerman lined his homer into the left-field seats, tying the game at 1. He set a career high with his 34th homer, his fourth off Dickey this season.

Arodys Vizcaino struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 15 chances. It was a strong return to form after Vizcaino walked all three batters he faced in a blown save Wednesday night.

The Braves scored two runs in the fourth off Tanner Roark (13-10). Albies singled, moved to third on catcher Matt Wieters' wild pickoff attempt and scored the go-ahead run on Freddie Freeman's fly ball to deep left field. Nick Markakis doubled past Zimmerman at first base and scored on Johan Camargo's single up the middle.

The Nationals trimmed the Braves' lead to one in the eighth. Anthony Rendon doubled to left field and scored on Wieters' two-out single.

Ender Inciarte continued his push for 200 hits when he led off the first with a triple to right field. It was his 191st hit, the third-highest total in the majors. Inciarte scored on Albies' single.

The game was delayed several minutes in the middle of the eighth. There was confusion as Nationals manager Dusty Baker attempted to make several defensive changes and had to go over the changes with home plate umpire Nic Lentz, who also took questions from Braves manager Brian Snitker.

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Ryan Zimmerman sets career high in homers vs. Braves

Ryan Zimmerman sets career high in homers vs. Braves

Ryan Zimmerman's resurgent season continues to get more and more impressive. 

Zimmerman hit his 34th home run of the season on Thursday night, setting a new career high. 

His previous career high was set in 2009, when he hit 33 while slashing .292/.364/.525 with a .888 OPS. 

He didn't get cheated on it, either: 

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