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Instant analysis: Nats 10, Cards 0

Instant analysis: Nats 10, Cards 0

Game in a nutshell: It's not supposed to be this easy, right? Especially against the defending World Series champs, who had been playing as well as anybody in baseball until this week. Well, the Nationals have taken the Cardinals to the woodshed two nights in a row now, following up Thursday's 8-1 thumping with tonight's rout. This one was all the more impressive because much of the damage came against former 20-game winner Adam Wainwright, who was knocked out after giving up six runs in only 2 23 innings. The Nationals worked the count against the right-hander, forcing him to throw a whopping 86 pitches, and got contributions from just about everyone in their lineup. That freed up Gio Gonzalez to go right after St. Louis' hitters, which the lefty did. Gonzalez didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning and he carried a shutout into the ninth, given a standing ovation as he took the mound in search of the complete game. He pulled it off, earning his first career shutout, energizing the crowd of 29,499 and sending the Nationals to their 80th win of the season (matching last year's total) and only one shy of the club record set in 2005.

Hitting highlight: It seems like we're highlighting Jayson Werth here on an almost-nightly basis, but it's impossible to ignore what the guy is doing right now. He racked up three more hits and two more walks tonight, scoring a pair of runs. Put it all together, and Werth has now reached safely in 12 of his last 15 plate appearances. He's truly embraced the leadoff role and understands the most important thing he can do is get himself on base. And he's doing that with aplomb, setting the table for Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and everyone else behind in in the lineup. Werth's updated on-base percentage in 26 games since he returned from his broken wrist: .435. What a difference he's made.

Pitching highlight: Maybe Gonzalez just wanted to one-up Edwin Jackson. One night after the veteran right-hander tossed eight innings of one-run ball, the lefty went out and carried a shutout into the ninth. Gonzalez retired the first nine batters he faced, took a no-hitter into the fifth and got some big, double-play grounders when he needed them. Put it all together and you've got one of his best outings of the year, this one good enough to earn Gonzalez his 17th win of the season. That ties him with Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto for the major-league lead and gives Gio a real shot at 20 wins by season's end.

Key stat: Since their five-game losing streak, the Nationals have outscored the opposition 26-5.

Up next: Note the changed starting time for Saturday's game -- 4:05 p.m. because Fox picked up the broadcast -- then make sure you get here on-time to see Jordan Zimmermann seek his 10th win against 14-game winner Kyle Lohse.

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Nationals win 6-2 after Stephen Strasburg leaves in second inning

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USA TODAY Sports

Nationals win 6-2 after Stephen Strasburg leaves in second inning

PHOENIX -- Stephen Strasburg left after struggling with his control in the second inning, and the Washington Nationals wrapped up a successful nine-game trip with a 6-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.

There was no word from the Nationals during the game explaining the standout right-hander's departure.

Strasburg, 10-3 with a 3.31 ERA entering the game, uncharacteristically walked the No. 8 and No. 9 batters in the second inning before departing with a 5-0 lead. He threw 51 pitches, 29 strikes.

Brian Goodwin's leadoff homer ignited a four-run first inning off Robbie Ray (9-5), who lasted five innings, allowing five runs.

Bryce Harper singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 16 games.

Wilmer Difo hit his second home run of the season off reliever T.J. McFarland in the seventh.

Joe Blanton (1-2) got two outs and earned the win.

The NL East-leading Nationals took two of three in Arizona to go 7-2 on the trip.

Nine players batted for Washington in the opening inning. Goodwin started it with a booming shot high above the home run line across the batter's eye in straightaway center.

Difo and Harper singled and Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly made it 2-0. Daniel Murphy walked and Anthony Rendon singled in a run. Jose Lobaton capped the scoring with a two-out RBI single before Strasburg bounced into a fielder's choice to end Ray's 39-pitch inning.

Arizona broke through with two runs in the fifth.

Chris Iannetta had a pinch-hit single with one out and David Descalso walked before Ketel Marte and David Peralta each singled in a run. With runners at first and third and one out, Blanton came on to strike out Paul Goldschmidt and got Chris Owings to ground into a fielder's choice.

The Diamondbacks had runners at second and third with one out in the sixth but Enny Romero struck out A.J. Pollock and Descalso bounced out to second. Romero left the game in the seventh with an apparent injury.

Arizona, 3-6 since the All-Star break, stranded 11 runners.

Washington's Andrew Stevenson, called up from Triple-A Syracuse, was 0 for 2 in his major league debut.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: Washington placed OF Chris Heisey on the 10-day DL. Heisey strained his left groin in Saturday night's 4-3 victory. Additionally, OF Ryan Raburn was placed on the bereavement list.

Diamondbacks: J.D. Martinez appeared in his first game in Arizona as a Diamondback after missing three games with a bruised wrist, the result of being hit by a pitch in his Diamondbacks debut. He walked as a pinch hitter in the seventh.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Washington has Monday off and hosts Milwaukee on Tuesday. RH Edwin Jackson makes his second start for the Nationals.

Diamondbacks: Arizona begins a three-game home series against Atlanta on Monday night. Zack Greinke (11-4, 2.93 ERA), 9-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 11 home starts, goes for the Diamondbacks. R.A. Dickey (6-6, 4.14) counters for the Braves.

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Bryce Harper powers Nationals past Diamondbacks

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Bryce Harper powers Nationals past Diamondbacks

PHOENIX -- The newest additions to the Washington bullpen came through when called upon to help deliver a victory to their new team.

Sean Doolittle stranded the potential tying run by escaping a jam for his second save for Washington, and Ryan Madson tossed a scoreless eighth inning as the Nationals held off the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 on Saturday night.

"The game can really speed up on you once you start getting guys on base," said Doolittle, who with Madson arrived in a trade with Oakland earlier in the week. "The crowd and the energy of the stadium can kind of take over and ... you have to be mindful enough to step off the mound, slow the game down a bit, kind of press reset."

Bryce Harper homered and drove in two runs, and starting pitcher Tanner Roark struck out a season-high 11. Roark (8-6) gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings for the NL East-leading Nationals.

"Curveball felt good. Just keep the hitter guessing," Roark said.

Harper hit his 25th home run on a full-count offspeed pitch from Anthony Banda (0-1), who lost in his major league debut.

Chris Iannetta hit a two-out RBI double in the bottom half, but the Nationals opened a 4-1 lead with a three-run sixth.

Harper hit a run-scoring double and scored on Ryan Zimmerman's double, and Anthony Rendon beat out an RBI single that sent Zimmerman home.

"They had a young guy out there that throws the ball really hard, has good command. He's going to be really good in the next couple of years for sure," Harper said of Banda. "Just got him this time and got a few runs up there."

A.J. Pollock tripled in the bottom half and scored on Jake Lamb's groundout, and Arizona reliever Jorge De La Rosa got out of bases-loaded trouble in the seventh when he struck out Harper and Zimmerman.

Doolittle, acquired from Oakland last weekend, walked Lamb leading off the ninth. Iannetta hit a broken-bat grounder to third, and Rendon's throw to second went into right field for an error that put runners on the corners.

Paul Goldschmidt hit a sacrifice fly, Chris Owings flied out and Doolittle struck out Ketel Marte for his second save with the Nationals.

"Madson's been great for us. Doolittle ... he never panics. It was great to see. It's a lot of fun to have a back end like that," Harper said.

Banda allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, struck out five and walked none. He was optioned back to Triple-A Reno after the game.

"I felt confident. I threw the ball in the zone and kept attacking hitters," Banda said. "I made a couple of mistakes, Harper and the middle of the lineup."