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Instant analysis: Nats 2, Mets 0

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Instant analysis: Nats 2, Mets 0

Game in a nutshell: While much of the baseball world questioned the decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg over the weekend, the Nationals insisted all along they had a capable late-season replacement in John Lannan. And given what Lannan did tonight -- 5 23 scoreless innings -- it's hard to find fault with the Nationals' logic. The left-hander wasn't overpowering by any means, but he threw strikes, kept the ball down in the zone and most importantly kept the Mets off the scoreboard. Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond then supplied the offense with a pair of solo homers. And five relievers (Christian Garcia, Craig Stammen, Ryan Mattheus, Sean Burnett and Drew Storen) finished off the shutout. Yes, Burnett pitched the ninth inning to record the save, despite missing the last 10 days with elbow inflammation. With Tyler Clippard having pitched the previous two nights and a couple of left-handed hitters due up for the Mets, Davey Johnson rolled the dice and turned to Burnett. It worked, though it still required Storen recording the final out of the game to give the Nats a series sweep. And with the Braves trailing by a touchdown late in Milwaukee, the Nationals could find themselves with an 8 12-game lead in the NL East by night's end.

Hitting highlight: They tried to produce offense via small ball -- Bryce Harper laid down a sacrifice bunt with two on and nobody out, which wound up failing miserably -- but in the end the Nationals stuck with what has become their forte in recent weeks: the long ball. Zimmerman launched a solo homer to left in the fourth, his 22nd of the season. Then Desmond launched a solo homer of his own to deep left-center in the eighth, his 23rd of the season. That gave the Nationals 35 homers over their last 14 games. And boy were these two needed tonight.

Pitching highlight: Facing added pressure and scrutiny since he was officially taking over Strasburg's start, Lannan remained calm, cool and collected as always. He didn't try to be something he's not and stayed true to what has allowed him to be successful in his career: He pitched to contact and kept the ball on the ground. Twelve of the 23 batters Lannan faced hit groundballs. He issued only one walk (to the last batter he faced). And he made some big pitches when he needed to with men on base. Johnson gave him kind of an early hook (after only 81 pitches) but nobody can complain about the job Lannan did, or has done for the Nationals this year. In three big-league starts, he's now 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA.

Key stat: With his fourth-inning homer, Zimmerman recorded an RBI in his ninth straight game. That's a new franchise (ExposNationals) record.

Up next: The Nationals will fly to Atlanta late tonight, enjoy a day off tomorrow and then open a big weekend series with the Braves. Ross Detwiler faces the red-hot Kris Medlen in Friday night's 7:35 p.m. opener.

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Nationals six-game winning streak comes to an end in Los Angeles

Nationals six-game winning streak comes to an end in Los Angeles

The book on Alex Meyer was pretty clear: big stuff, bigger control problems.

Not so much Wednesday night for the 6-foot-9 right-hander.

Meyer executed nearly to perfection while allowing a hit and a walk over seven innings and leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 7-0 victory that ended the Washington Nationals' six-game winning streak.

MORE NATS: NATS BOLSTER BULLPEN

"We really didn't have much of a chance," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "Our reports were he didn't have very good command, but he did tonight."

Meyer (4-5) had a perfect game until he walked Anthony Rendon with two outs in the fifth. He lost his no-hitter with two outs in the sixth when Brian Goodwin doubled down the right-field line.

Meyer, Rendon and Goodwin were all first-round draft picks by the Nationals in 2011.

"I went to breakfast with (Goodwin) this morning and paid for it," Meyer said. "I'll have to talk to him about that."

Meyer had been plagued by walks this season (41 in 60 1/3 innings) but had just the one free pass in a career-high seven innings. He struck out seven.

David Hernandez and Jose Alvarez each threw a scoreless, hitless inning to complete the one-hitter. It was only the second time this season the Nationals have been shut out.

"To make outs the way he did says a lot about his upside and potential," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Mike Trout and C.J. Cron each hit two-run homers to support Meyer. For Trout, it was his 18th of the season.

Gio Gonzalez (8-5) started for the Nationals but gave up a pair of first-inning runs on Albert Pujols' single and Andrelton Simmons' sacrifice fly, and it was all the runs Los Angeles would need.

Washington outfielder Bryce Harper did not play in the nationally televised game. It was a scheduled day off.

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Zimmerman sets franchise HR record, Nationals beat Reds 6-1

Zimmerman sets franchise HR record, Nationals beat Reds 6-1

The NL East leaders opened the second half of the season with a franchise record, a series sweep and a significant upgrade -- exactly how the Nationals wanted to keep their momentum going.

Ryan Zimmerman set the Nationals' career home run record with a solo shot, and Bryce Harper connected again on Monday as Washington powered its way to a 6-1 victory for a four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds.

Zimmerman's 235th career homer moved him ahead of Vladimir Guerrero for most in Expos and Nationals history. Guerrero quickly tweeted congratulations , saying he doesn't mind being second.

"It's special to be in one place your entire career," said Zimmerman, in his 12th season with the team that made him a first-round draft pick. "You can't do stuff like this if you're not in the same place for a long time. So I feel very lucky to have spent my entire career here, honored to have hit more home runs than any Expo or National. It's cool."

The Nationals emerged from the All-Star break with an emphatically successful series -- 13 homers, including three by Harper, and 35 runs overall by the league's top offense. It was the Nationals' first four-game sweep of the Reds and left them 6-1 against Cincinnati this season.

Washington improved to a season-high 20 games over .500 (56-36) with its ninth victory in 11 games.

The Nationals' roster got a little better during the series, too. Washington shored up its weak bullpen by getting relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle from Oakland on Sunday. They'll join the team in Los Angeles for the start of a series against the Angels on Tuesday.

"We know we have a good team and we've put ourselves in a good spot to start the second half, but we've got a ways to go," Zimmerman said. "Obviously we acquired two talented guys for the bullpen, and we'll just try to keep scoring runs so that they can come in and lock the games up."

Stephen Strasburg (10-3) recovered from his shortest start of the season by fanning 11 in seven innings and allowing four hits, including Eugenio Suarez's homer. Strasburg left his last start -- a 13-0 loss to Atlanta on July 8 -- after Nick Markakis' liner deflected off his hip in the third inning.

He allowed only two hits -- including an infield single -- in his last five innings.

"Your body wants to pretend it's the offseason," Strasburg said of the break between starts. "It took a little while to get going."

Scott Feldman (7-7) lasted only one inning, limited by a stiff right knee that has been bothering him. He gave up a double, a single, Harper's three-run homer and Zimmerman's solo shot in his first 12 pitches. Feldman left after facing nine batters and giving up five runs on 33 pitches.

"It wouldn't loosen up," Feldman said of the knee. "It was one of those days. I put the team in a tough spot. We were down five runs right off the bat."

Harper's homer extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Brian Goodwin's solo shot made it 6-1 in the sixth.

4 FOR 4

The last time the Nationals swept a four-game series was last season against Atlanta. It was the 11th four-game sweep in Nationals history.

KEEP RUNNING

Daniel Murphy scored from second base on Matt Wieter's fly out in the first inning, turning it into a sacrifice fly. Right fielder Scooter Gennett made a diving catch in the gap and then stumbled and dropped the ball while trying to get up, giving Murphy enough time to make it home.

STATS

It was Strasburg's sixth double-digit strikeout game of the season and the 35th of his career. ... Anthony Rendon extended his hitting streak to 11 games. ... Nationals starters allowed only one run in the series. ... The 13 homers allowed in a series matched the Reds' club record.

NATIONALS MOVES

Washington called up right-hander Jacob Turner from Triple-A. Right-hander Koda Glover -- sidelined since April by a hip injury -- was moved to the 60-day DL.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: CF Michael Taylor hasn't yet started baseball-related activities as he recovers from a strained right oblique. He went on the DL on July 7.

Reds: C Devin Mesoraco began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville. He'll play a few games and be re-evaluated. He's been sidelined since July 5 with a strained left shoulder.

UP NEXT

Nationals: They face the Angels for the first time since 2011. Washington is 6-7 in interleague play this season.

Reds: RHP Sal Romano (1-1) will be called up to make his third career start when the Reds face the Diamondbacks. He also started on April 16 against Milwaukee and July 6 at Colorado.