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Burnett throws, likely available Wednesday

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Burnett throws, likely available Wednesday

NEW YORK -- Sean Burnett threw off a bullpen mound this afternoon and reported no pain in his elbow, though manager Davey Johnson doesn't plan to use the left-hander before Wednesday.

Burnett, who hasn't appeared in any of the Nationals last seven games due to lingering elbow irritation, threw 15 pitches in the bullpen prior to the Nationals' series opener against the Mets. He said the elbow isn't 100 percent healthy -- "I mean, it's September, so it's not going to be 100 percent," he said -- but feels considerably better than it did after his last appearance.

"It was just more typical ball flight that I'm used to seeing and movement," he said. "It probably hadn't been like that in 2-3 weeks."

Though Burnett was hopeful he'd be cleared to return to game action Tuesday, Johnson said he's likely to wait one more day, wanting to make sure his setup man makes it through a light tossing session first.

"I don't know how much he put into the 'pen," the manager said. "Was it game-like, or what? Normally coming back from something bothering him, I give him a day of rest to regroup, and then I go. But I would expect he'd want to be in tomorrow night. I would expect that of Sean: My riverboat gambler."

Burnett dealt with this issue for a while in midsummer but bounced back and posted a 1.38 ERA while holding opponents to a .149 batting average in 15 appearances from July 13-August 10.

But Burnett hasn't enjoyed a clean outing since, allowing 19 batters to reach safely over his last six innings and blowing late leads to the Cardinals on consecutive days last weekend.

Reluctant at first to be shut down, he finally relented once he realized it might allow him to be available for the stretch run.

"They had to convince me of that," Burnett said. "That was hard for me. It feels like it's been a month for me. But it got to a point where it wasn't fair for me, it wasn't fair to my teammates, to go out there not 100 percent in a pennant race and put stuff in jeopardy. It wasn't right to my teammates. But I felt like a week off would freshen me up a little bit and hopefully get back with no pain. And today it was better. It seemed like the action on the ball was back."

The Nationals haven't had Burnett undergo an MRI, though doctors performed manual tests on the elbow and found no evidence of structural damage.

"No MRI. I didn't want to look and see what that was going to show," he said. "I've already had surgeries on it. It's not going to look pretty. ... I'm not scared something's wrong. Obviously going through the ligament tests, I passed all those. The doctor said the ligament was fine, so I don't see anything else in there."

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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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