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Instant Analysis: Nats take first game vs. Marlins

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Instant Analysis: Nats take first game vs. Marlins

Nationals 7, Marlins 4

Game in a nutshell: For the second time in two weeks, the Nationals summoned John Lannan from Syracuse to start one half of a doubleheader. And for the second time in two weeks, the left-hander delivered. He wasn't quite as sharp as his July 23 outing against the Braves, but Lannan tossed six-plus innings to earn the quality start and improve to 2-0 for the season. He was bolstered by an early offensive explosion that featured another home run from Adam LaRoche, a two-run single from Mark DeRosa and a whole lotta production from the heart of the lineup. Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and LaRoche combined to go 6-for-9 with two doubles, a homer and five walks. And though it took some finagling of the bullpen late to seal this one, the Nationals emerged with a relatively easy win over a self-imploding Marlins club in the first game of tonight's twinbill.

Hitting highlight: Everything's coming up LaRoche! After a 3-hit, 2-RBI performance Thursday night, the veteran first baseman brought out the big stick again for this one. He picked up three more hits, including his 21st homer of the season, and added three more RBI to raise his team-leading total to 67. Combine the two games, and LaRoche drove in a run four times in a span of six at-bats. Not bad. Also not bad: LaRoche's numbers over a longer stretch. In 14 games since July 20, he's hitting .396 with five homers and 12 RBI.

Pitching highlight: The Nationals really couldn't have asked for much more than they've gotten from Lannan in these two fill-in starts. He reached the seventh inning both times, held the opposition to three runs or less both times, allowed a total of nine hits in 13 innings and kept his pitch count relatively low. Lannan did battle some command issues in this game, issuing five walks (three in the first two innings). But he retired 13 of 14 batters at one point and effectively pitched with a big lead, going right after the Marlins. If these two outings don't convince the Nats he's capable of taking over Stephen Strasburg's rotation spot in September, nothing will.

Key stat: The Marlins pitching staff has issued 13 bases-loaded walks this season, more than any other team in the majors, including two today.

Up next: They're already warming up for Game 2! Gio Gonzalez faces Josh Johnson in a game that will begin in approximately 25 minutes.

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Bryce Harper reportedly will come off the disabled list tomorrow

Bryce Harper reportedly will come off the disabled list tomorrow

Bryce Harper's (probably) back. 

With just over two weeks left in the regular season, the Nationals star is set to be activated off the disabled list, according to the Washington Post's Chelsea Janes:

Harper hasn't played since August 12, when he slipped awkwardly on the first base bag while trying to beat out a grounder. He suffered a signifcant bone bruise, although the injury looked considerably worse than it ended up being. 

Before getting hurt, Harper was hitting .326/.419/.614 on the year with a 1.034 OPS and 29 home runs. 

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Nationals, without their big guns, fall to Mets

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USA Today Sports Images

Nationals, without their big guns, fall to Mets

NEW YORK -- Travis d'Arnaud hit two home runs and the New York Mets ended a three-game skid, rallying past a watered-down lineup of Washington Nationals 7-6 on Friday night.

Washington manager Dusty Baker said he needed to "give my big boys much needed rest" with the playoffs nearing, and not a single regular started for the NL East champions. Star Daniel Murphy pinch hit in the eighth and flied out.

MORE NATS: RATHER HAVE THE CUBS, BREWERS, OR CARDINALS IN NLDS?

The Nationals begin the Division Series in exactly two weeks. If the current standings hold, they would host the World Series champion Chicago Cubs to open the best-of-five matchup.

Adam Lind hit a three-run homer for Washington. It was the Nationals' 203rd home run this season, matching the franchise record dating to 1969 when they were the Montreal Expos.

Howie Kendrick had an RBI double and prized prospect Victor Robles lined a two-run triple in the fifth that put Washington ahead 6-1.

Nationals reliever Shawn Kelley exited in the eighth inning because of an apparent injury. He' has struggled this season and missed more than two months because of back problems.

Nori Aoki had three hits for the Mets, including a go-ahead double in the sixth inning off Joe Blanton (2-4).

Chasen Bradford (2-0) pitched a scoreless inning for the win.

Jeurys Familia, the Mets' third pitcher in the ninth inning, came on to strike out Robles with runners on first and third for his fourth save -- his first since May 5. Familia, who missed three months after surgery to repair a blood clot, entered as part of a double switch, with Kevin Plawecki taking over at catcher for d'Arnaud.

D'Arnaud hit a solo homer in the second and connected for a tying, three-run drive in the fifth that finished starter Edwin Jackson. That gave d'Arnaud a career-best 15 homers and marked his second multihomer game, the other coming in April against Washington.

MORE MLB: POSTSEASON BRACKET PROJECTION (THURSDAY)

Mets starter Robert Gsellman allowed six runs in five innings. He moved up a day to pitch in place of ace Jacob deGrom, who was moved back in the rotation until Sunday because of a stomach illness this week.