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Instant analysis: Nats 8, Phillies 4

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Instant analysis: Nats 8, Phillies 4

Game in a nutshell: Desperate for a win in perhaps their biggest house of horrors, the Nationals turned to man who has known almost nothing but misery in Philadelphia in John Lannan. The left-hander responded with another solid outing, but more importantly benefited from some major early run support. Three Nationals homered off Kyle Kendrick in the game's first two innings, opening up a 5-0 lead in the process. The Phillies, though, kept chipping away, scoring twice off Lannan, then once off Ryan Mattheus, then once off the slumping Tyler Clippard to leave this a 5-4 game entering the ninth. Would this one require a tense finish? Nope, and for that the Nats can thank Jayson Werth. After getting the local fans riled up by pretending to throw a foul ball into the stands, he stepped to the plate and delivered a two-out, two-run single in the top of the ninth for some huge insurance runs. That made life easy for Drew Storen, who didn't even have to appear in a save situation. Good thing the Nationals won, too, because the Braves beat the Marlins again to improve to 9-2 over their last 11 games. So the lead in the NL East remains four games with seven to play, with the magic number now down to 4.

Hitting highlight: They all came early, and they came before you could blink. Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond and Kurt Suzuki all homered in a span of seven batters, all of them impressive. But let's spotlight Harper, because he's once again doing things few have ever done before at his age. With 20 homers, he's only four shy of Tony Conigliaro's teenage record. With 93 runs scored, he's only seven shy of Buddy Lewis' teenage record. And with his 17th stolen base, he's now the first teenager in big-league history in the 17-17 club. Three more steals and he'll join the 20-20 club.

Pitching highlight: He may not acknowledge it publicly, but Lannan knows all too well about his past struggles in this ballpark and against this team. So he certainly took the mound tonight knowing the pressure was on to deliver. And he responded in impressive fashion. Obviously it helped to be staked to a 5-0 lead, but Lannan opened his night by inducing three straight groundballs. He walked only one batter over his 5 13 innings. And though he was charged with two earned runs, both scored thanks in large part to defensive miscues. Above all else, Lannan did what the Nats needed him to do: Throw strikes, get deep enough into the game and give his team a chance to win. He's now made five big-league starts this season, and has a 4-0 record to show for it.

Key stat: The Nationals are one of only three NL teams with four 20-homer players this season. The others: the Brewers and Cardinals.

Up next: The series concludes at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, when Gio Gonzalez goes after his 21st win of the season against Phillies rookie right-hander Tyler Cloyd.

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2017 ballpark foods that are way better than peanuts and Cracker Jack

2017 ballpark foods that are way better than peanuts and Cracker Jack

Back in the olden days, cotton candy or a plate of nachos were considered bold ballpark snacks. Thankfully, the olden days are over, and a new era of ballpark food has begun.

And in this era, a menu item isn't considered complete until it's fried, sandwiched between something else and then finally drizzled with some sort of sauce. 

So, what's on the menu for 2017? Well, peanuts, hot dogs and apple pie nachos, of course.

CLICK HERE TO FEAST YOUR EYES ON THE CRAZIEST BALLPARK FOODS YOU'LL FIND AROUND MLB THIS YEAR

With a new season about to begin, CSNmidatlantic.com has identified 10 of the most eye-popping and artery-clogging foods available around Major League Baseball in 2017. To see them, simply click on the link above or below to open our gallery (no fork and knife necessary).

After all, while peanuts and Cracker Jack are cute, they simply can't match up with a hot dog topped with bacon and a fried egg. 

CLICK HERE TO FEAST YOUR EYES ON THE CRAZIEST BALLPARK FOODS YOU'LL FIND AROUND MLB THIS YEAR

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Nationals Ace Max Scherzer will not be team's opening day starter

Nationals Ace Max Scherzer will not be team's opening day starter

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team's opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation. 

Scherzer has been the team's starter on opening day for the past two seasons, but a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger caused him to miss the start of spring training, and the World Baseball Classic. 

Scherzer did, however, make his first MLB spring training start of 2017 on Wednesday. The 2016 NL Cy Young award winner allowed two earned runs on five hits over 4.2 innings. He added four strikeouts and one walk, and reportedly looked just like you would expect from Max Scherzer. 

"To be out there competing, throwing all my pitches, throwing them for strikes, that's a great first outing," Scherzer told Eddie Matz of ESPN after the game. "Finger's good. Finger feels like a finger. I'm getting through that injury. It's behind me now."

With Scherzer set to open the season as the third starter in the rotation, that likely means that Stephen Strasburg will start on opening day against the Miami Marlins, and Tanner Roark will slot in behind him. 

While it's nice to have your ace pitcher starting on opening day, it's not a huge deal to have Scherzer start the season third in the rotation, especially because the Nationals starting rotation is the strength of the team

RELATED: Nationals' Tanner Roark pitches four scoreless innings to help Team USA beat Japan in WBC