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Harper moved up in lineup as Nats face Dodgers in Game 1 of NLDS

Harper moved up in lineup as Nats face Dodgers in Game 1 of NLDS

Game 1 of NL Division Series
Nats
 (95-67) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (91-71) at Nationals Park

The Nationals have been here before with two previous stops in the MLB playoffs. Never have they advanced past the NL Division Series, where they find themselves once again, now with the Dodgers as their opponent and a pretty good pitching matchup in store for Game 1.

It all begins on Friday at 5:38 p.m. with two of the game's best starters set to square off. In one corner is Max Scherzer (20-7, 2.96) with one Cy Young on his résumé. In the other is Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69) with three Cy Youngs and an MVP trophy on his mantle. It's arguably the best pitching matchup MLB can offer these days and it's a heck of a way to kick off a series.

The Nationals have included a surprise in their lineup with Bryce Harper hitting second and Jayson Werth is batting third. Manager Dusty Baker wants Harper to get some at-bats behind Trea Turner, hoping he'll see better pitches with the speedy rookie on base.

Werth hitting third is a product of him having good career numbers against Kershaw. Through 32 at-bats, Werth is batting .313 off the lefty.

Pedro Severino is in to start at catcher, as Baker noted on Thursday. He will catch Scherzer for just the second time this season.

First pitch: 5:38 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, ESPN
Starting pitchers: Nats - Max Scherzer vs. Dodgers - Clayton Kershaw

NATS 

CF Trea Turner
RF Bryce Harper
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
C Pedro Severino
RHP Max Scherzer

DODGERS

2B Chase Utley
SS Corey Seager
3B Justin Turner
1B Adrian Gonzalez
RF Josh Reddick
CF Joc Pederson
C Yasmani Grandal
LF Andrew Toles
LHP Clayton Kershaw

[RELATED: 5 keys to a Nationals win over the Dodgers in the NLDS]

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Nats hit 8 HRs to blast Brewers 15-2

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USA TODAY Sports

Nats hit 8 HRs to blast Brewers 15-2

The Washington Nationals tied a franchise record with eight home runs, including two apiece by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, and Max Scherzer pitched six innings of three-hit ball in a 15-2 rout of the fading Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday.

Washington matched two major league records in a seven-run third inning: Most consecutive home runs (four) and most home runs in an inning (five).

After Harper connected off Michael Blazek (0-1) in the first inning, Brian Goodwin started the long-ball barrage in the third with a two-run drive. Wilmer Difo, Harper and Zimmerman followed with long home runs.

MORE NATIONALS: Watch the Nats hit back to back homeruns 

The streak was interrupted when Daniel Murphy flied out, after which some of the fans reacted with good-natured booing.

Anthony Rendon resumed the fun with a shot to dead center that finally chased Blazek, whose first major league start was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Zimmerman and Jose Lobaton both homered off Wily Peralta in the fourth for a 15-1 lead.

The eight home runs tied the franchise mark set in July 1978 by the Montreal Expos against Atlanta.

Scherzer (12-5) allowed one run and struck out nine to bring his total this year to 201 -- his sixth consecutive season with at least 200, the longest active streak in the majors.

The right-hander had plenty of offensive support, most notably from Harper, who had three hits and four RBIs while extending his career-best hitting streak to 19 games.

Travis Shaw and Lewis Brinson homered for the Brewers, who have lost nine of 11 to drop from first place in the NL Central.

Blazek gave up seven hits, six of them home runs, in just 2 1/3 innings. Peralta allowed seven runs and eight hits in 1 2/3 innings, a performance that raised his ERA to 7.85.

MOVE OVER, HONDO

Zimmerman's two home runs upped his total with the Nationals to 237, tied with Frank Howard for most in Washington history.

Known affectionately as "Hondo," the 6-foot-7 Howard played with the expansion Senators from 1965-71.

ROSTER MOVE

The Brewers added RHP Anthony Swarzak to the roster after obtaining him Wednesday in a trade with the White Sox.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (10-3, 3.25 ERA) was placed on the 10-day disabled list with an elbow impingement. Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to miss only one start. ... OF Michael Taylor (oblique strain) is almost ready to begin baseball activities, Baker said. Taylor has been on the DL since July 7.

UP NEXT

Brewers: Brent Suter (1-1, 2.84 ERA) takes the mound Friday night in the opener of a three-game showdown with the visiting Chicago Cubs.

Nationals: Tanner Roark (8-6, 4.83 ERA) helps Washington launch a three-game series at home against the Colorado Rockies.

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Watch the Nationals hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back HRs against the Brewers

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Watch the Nationals hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back HRs against the Brewers

Bryce Harper was thrown out in the eighth inning of Wednesday's win over the Brewers.

Apparently, he needs to be thrown out of games more.

Harper's second home run of the game Thursday against the Brewers, was part of a four straight home run barrage the Nationals put together in the third inning.

First it was Brian Goodwin homering to right to start things off.

Then it was Wilmer Difo's turn.

Harper was next, which by the way was already his second of the game.

Ryan Zimmerman made sure he kept the streak going after Harper.

And now all four at once, just for emphasis.

The Nats weren't done in the inning either. After Daniel Murphy would fly out to center and end the streak, Anthony Rendon would add another home run to the inning. 

The Nationals became the eighth team in MLB history to hit four straight home runs. The Diamondbacks were the last back in 2010.