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Instant analysis: Nats 5, Mets 1

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Instant analysis: Nats 5, Mets 1

Game in a nutshell: Looking to bounce back from a rough weekend against the Marlins, the Nationals didn't waste much time pouncing on Collin McHugh. They roughed up the Mets rookie right-hander for three homers during an eight-batter span in the third and fourth innings, jumping out to a 5-1 lead. They actually were held hit-less by the New York bullpen after that, but rode Gio Gonzalez's effective start and scoreless innings of relief from Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard to secure a fairly easy victory. Gonzalez became the majors' first 19-game winner, and the Nationals opened a six-game road trip in strong fashion. Their magic number for the NL East is down to 16; their magic number for the final wild card berth is 9.
Hitting highlight: The Nationals' scoring barrage took a break yesterday, but it was back in full force for the opener of this series. They blasted three homers -- Kurt Suzuki's solo shot in the third, Ryan Zimmerman's two-run shot a few batters later, Ian Desmond's two-run shot in the fourth -- and none was a cheapie. Desmond's was especially impressive, a real clout into one of the bullpens in right field. It was only the latest example of the shortstop's newfound stroke to the opposite field: Seven of his 22 homers this season have been hit to the right of straightaway center. Only one of Desmond' 22 career homers prior to 2012 was hit in that direction.
Pitching highlight: It looked like it might be a long night for Gonzalez when he walked his first batter of the night, then issued another free pass to David Wright moments later. And truth be told, the left-hander wasn't sharp at all. He wound up walking five and throwing only 58 of his 104 pitches for strikes. But he did come through with big pitches when he needed them and wound up with strong overall results: one run allowed on three hits over six innings. The only real blemish on his pitching line: Scott Hairston's solo homer in the fourth. Gonzalez's quality start proved more than enough to earn him win No. 19 on the season, making him the first MLB pitcher to reach that milepost in 2012.
Key stat: Desmond's 22 homers this season are the most ever by a Washington middle infielder, a span that includes the 1901-71 Senators and the 2005-present Nationals.
Up next: Gonzalez became the majors' first 19-game winner tonight. New York's R.A. Dickey will try to join him tomorrow. The knuckleballer goes up against Jordan Zimmermann at 7:10 p.m. in a matchup of two of the best right-handers in the NL this season.

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Nationals beat Braves, snap losing skid behind Stephen Strasburg's strong start

Nationals beat Braves, snap losing skid behind Stephen Strasburg's strong start

ATLANTA (AP) -- Stephen Strasburg struck out a season-high 11 and kept up his recent domination of the Atlanta Braves, leading Washington to a 3-2 win Sunday that stopped the Nationals' four-game losing streak.

Strasburg (5-1) allowed five hits in 7 2/3 innings, beating Atlanta for the second time this season and improving to 7-1 in his last nine starts against the Braves. He is 10-8 overall against Atlanta.

He reached double digits in strikeouts for the second time this season after fanning 10 Braves on April 20.

Strasburg faded in the eighth, when Dansby Swanson hit a two-run double. Koda Glover struck out Nick Markakis to end the inning and finished the six-hitter for his third save.

Daniel Murphy hit a second-inning homer off Jaime Garcia (1-3) and the Nationals added two unearned runs in the third.

Matt Adams was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and hit into a ninth-inning double play in his debut for Atlanta, a day after he was acquired from St. Louis. Matt Kemp led off the ninth, and Adams hit a line drive that was caught by Ryan Zimmerman, who stepped on first base.

Garcia allowed three runs -- one earned -- and seven hits in eight innings with no walks.

Washington took a 3-0 lead in the third following fielding errors by Markakis in right and Garcia. Bryce Harper had a run-scoring single.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 3B Anthony Rendon and C Matt Wieters were given days off from the starting lineup. Rendon entered at third base in the eighth.

Braves: RHP Kris Medlen allowed one hits in six scoreless innings Saturday in his first start for Class A Florida. He missed most of 2016 with shoulder problems after his second Tommy John surgery. "That would be a real nice piece to have," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. Medlen pitched for Kansas City in 2015-16 and his last season with Atlanta was in 2013, when he was 15-12 with a 3.11 ERA.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Following an off day, RHP Jacob Turner (2-2) is expected to start when the Nationals will open a series against Seattle on Tuesday.

Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (2-4) will take a 0-3 career record in three starts against Pittsburgh into Monday night's series opener against the Pirates.

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2017 MLB Power Rankings: As Bryce Harper goes, so do the Nationals

2017 MLB Power Rankings: As Bryce Harper goes, so do the Nationals

A week ago, the Nationals were looking unstoppable. Bryce Harper was hitting walkoff dingers left and right, there were multiple winning streaks, and the bullpen was only sorta bad. 

2017 MLB POWER RANKINGS

A week's worth of games later - against the Braves, Pirates and Phillies, no less - and the Nats don't look nearly as stainless. Harper's hitting under .200 since his Mother's Day walkoff, the team lost 5 of 6, and the bullpen turned back into a pumpkin. Because of that, there's a new team at the top of the Power Rankings this week. Who is it? To the rankings! 

30. MIAMI MARLINS

2017 Record: 15-28
Previous Ranking: 24
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Notable Performance: Dee Gordon (.318/.400/.364 last week)

Stanton hasn't homered in over two weeks, a stretch of 12 games. After going 2-8 over the last 10, including that weird Dodgers game, the Marlins have seen better weeks.  

29. SAN DIEGO PADRES

2017 Record: 16-30
Previous Ranking: 29
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Notable Performance: Brad Hand (.300/.500/.600 last week)

Wil Myers' underwhelming season continues. The outfielder is hitting .150 over the last week, and only .219 over the last month. The Padres best position player is only worth .6 bWAR, and that's 5th-best on the team.

28. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

2017 Record: 15-26
Previous Ranking: 23
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Notable Performance: Daniel Nava (.429/.429/.571 last week)

They ran into Texas at exactly the wrong time. Getting starts that are consistently like Aaron Nola's last one will be huge for his development this season. 

27. KANSAS CITY ROYALS

2017 Record: 18-25
Previous Ranking: 27
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Notable Performance: Lorenzo Cain (.087/.125/.087 last week)

They're starting to play better, but upcomming series with the Yankees and Indians aren't making life any easier for KC. Jason Vargas (?!) has been their most valuable player this year (2.0 bWAR). 

26. ATLANTA BRAVES

2017 Record: 18-23
Previous Ranking: 30
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Notable Performance: Matt Kemp (.375/.423/.708 last week)

Losing Freeman for three months because of some dumb unspoken beef is just a testament to how stupid unwritten baseball rules are. The silver lining to this year, though, is that the Braves are going to fleece some team for Matt Kemp in July. 

SEE THE REST OF THE RANKINGS HERE