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Instant Analysis: Another thrilling Nats comeback

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Instant Analysis: Another thrilling Nats comeback

Game in a nutshell: What surely everyone assumed would be a pitchers' duel between Jordan Zimmermann and Mark Buehrle instead turned into one of the wildest and most entertaining ballgames of the season. Zimmermann lasted only five innings, Buehrle only went six. Three errors by the Nationals' middle infield left them trailing 6-4 in the eighth, but then the big bats busted out against the Miami bullpen. Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore delivered RBI singles. Danny Espinosa then launched a three-run homer to left to put the Nats ahead for the first time all night. Bryce Harper immediately followed with a moonshot to right field, completing a six-run rally, all of the runs scoring with two outs. Tyler Clippard then finished this one off, giving the Nationals one of their most-inspired victories of the season. And since the Braves lost to Houston, the lead in the NL East is back up to three games.

Hitting highlight: This was going to be renamed the "Adam LaRoche Highlight" after the first baseman slugged two more home runs (giving him four in three days) but then Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper stole the show in the bottom of the eighth. Espinosa, who has had a miserable couple of weeks at the plate, made everyone forget about that when he crushed a pitch from left-hander Mike Dunn over the left-field bullpen for the three-run homer that gave the Nationals the lead for good. The crowd of 33,449 serenaded Espinosa til he gave them a curtain call, and they barely had time to catch their breaths before Harper destroyed a Dunn fastball to right field, nearly reaching the third deck. The Nats have produced some big home runs this season, but those back-to-back shots might have been the biggest of them all.

Pitching lowlight: We should probably rename this category "Pitching AND defensive lowlight" because the two went hand-in-hand tonight. Zimmermann slogged through his worst start of the season, but he wasn't helped at all by his defense. Espinosa and Lombardozzi combined for three errors, and Jayson Werth and Harper each took suspect routes on line drives hit at them in the outfield. In the end, Zimmermann couldn't overcome those mistakes and failed to go at least six innings for the first time in 22 starts this season. If you're wondering about his shoulder inflammation -- which bumped this start back a day -- his velocity looked fine, consistently in the 94-95 mph range. That doesn't necessarily guarantee he's not injured, but it's usually the first sign of a problem.

Key stat: The Marlins scored more runs in this game than in any of their previous 18 games.

Up next: The series concludes at 1:35 p.m. Sunday when Stephen Strasburg squares off with Ricky Nolasco.

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Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers. 

Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.  

Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS. 

With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years. 

Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan

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Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

The Nationals aren't certain to have ace Max Scherzer ready to pitch for Opening Day. Scherzer, 32, was unable to compete in the World Baseball Classic this summer due to a stress fracture in his right ring finger. 

When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue. 

Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season. 

Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans. 

Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts. 

Scherzer is an especially vital part of the Nationals rotation considering the injury history of Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the DL twice last season, once with soreness in the elbow that needed Tommy John surgery in 2010. 

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