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Jayson Werth on 2016 Nationals: 'I feel like this is our chance'

Jayson Werth on 2016 Nationals: 'I feel like this is our chance'

Whether this is the best iteration of the Nationals is an interesting debate, but veteran outfielder Jayson Werth, for one, believes there is something different about this club.

They may have won less games during the regular season than both the 2012 (98 wins) and 2014 (96) clubs. They may have lost All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos for the season. All-Star pitcher Stephen Strasburg is out for the NL Division Series with a right flexor strain. Bryce Harper is on the field, but not playing like we all know he can.

There are reasons to believe the Nats aren't quite as good as they once were on paper. But Werth would argue they are well-suited for the playoffs this time around.

"We've been fortunate here to be in the hunt coming down the stretch, almost every season that I've been in Washington, going to the playoffs. It's the third time I've been in the playoffs," he said after Monday's win (Via ASAPsports.com).

"I'm hoping this is our year. We're battle-tested, we're playoff-tested and we've got a good group of guys. We've been playing together a long time now. So, I feel like this is our opportunity."

[RELATED: Nats manager Baker on how he got the nickname 'Dusty']

Werth, 37, knows that he himself only has so much time left in the majors. The 2015 season, when the Nationals fell short of the playoffs and won just 83 games, was tough on him. He wants to win another World Series. He wants to win one in Washington.

"I think after last year, with the injuries, and the way it ended and, you know, I felt like it was just like an opportunity lost," he said.

"With getting [manager] Dusty [Baker] this year and the moves at the deadline… you don't always get opportunities. I feel like it got taken away last year, and obviously I can't play this game forever. So I feel like this is -- I feel like this is our chance and I also feel like maybe this is my last chance to do it."

Baker has made a difference, as Werth noted. So has health. But the team itself, Werth believes is designed to make a run at the World Series.

"I feel like we can slug with anybody. We have the type of lineup that has balance," he explained. "We have the pitching that can pitch and we have the bullpen that can shut people down like they have done the last couple games."

The bullpen has indeed stood out through three playoff games. They have allowed zero runs collectively with 14 strikeouts through 12 1/3 total innings.

Both 2012 and 2014 featured infamous bullpen meltdowns that cost them in the playoffs. So far, that has not been the case in 2016.

"I think it gives us confidence. We're always in a game," Werth said. "We're never out of it. Even when we're behind, we can tack on runs when we're ahead or we can get some runs when we're behind. I feel like the bullpen is going to hold up. And might not have been the case or the feeling in years past."

The Nationals have a chance on Tuesday night to do something they have never accomplished before: advance in the MLB playoffs. With a 2-1 series lead, they have two opportunities to get there.

*Transcripts via ASAPsports.com*

[RELATED: Nationals beat Dodgers to take 2-1 lead in NLDS]

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Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

SAN DIEGO -- Yangervis Solarte hit a two-run home run off Stephen Strasburg in the first inning of the right-hander's first start in almost a month and the San Diego Padres beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 Saturday night.

Strasburg (10-4) retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a single to Jose Pirela and then the homer to the switch-hitting Solarte, who drove a 96-mph fastball to right for his 13th.

Strasburg then settled down against his hometown team, retiring 10 straight batters and 13 of 14. He went six innings, allowing two runs and four hits while striking out eight and walking one.

He hadn't pitched since July 23, when he went only two innings at Arizona. He went on the disabled list with an elbow nerve impingement.

Strasburg pitched at West Hills High in suburban Santee and then at San Diego State for coach Tony Gwynn before going to the Nationals with the No. 1 pick overall in the 2009 draft.

While Strasburg pitched well, the Nationals had only three hits.

San Diego's Travis Wood (2-1) also settled down after laboring through the first inning, when he threw 35 pitches but didn't allow a run. He was unscathed until the fifth, when he allowed a one-out single to Jose Lobaton and a two-out double to Adrian Sanchez. The run was unearned because of Woods' throwing error on Strasburg's sacrifice bunt that advanced Lobaton.

Wood allowed just the unearned run on three hits in seven innings, with two strikeouts and two walks.

Brad Hand pitched the ninth for his 11th save.

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Matt Grace, Howie Kendrick lead Nationals past San Diego Padres

Matt Grace, Howie Kendrick lead Nationals past San Diego Padres

SAN DIEGO -- Matt Grace pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in place of injured Max Scherzer and Howie Kendrick hit a leadoff homer and drove in two runs to help the Washington Nationals beat the San Diego Padres 7-1 on Friday night.

Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start and placed on the 10-day disabled list with a sore neck. Grace and five relievers held San Diego to four hits.

Grace, who grew up in the Los Angeles area and pitched at UCLA, made his first big league start and his first start since 2012 when he was with Single-A Potomac. It was his 61st big league appearance.

The left-hander allowed two hits, struck out one and walked one. He retired Cory Spangenberg on a grounder to open the fifth and manager Dusty Baker came out to get him after 52 pitches.

Shawn Kelley came on and with one out allowed Dusty Coleman's solo homer into the second deck in left field, his fourth.

Joe Blanton (2-2) pitched a scoreless sixth for the win.

Kendrick homered to left on the third pitch from Luis Perdomo, his sixth leadoff shot this season and seventh homer overall. Kendrick also hit an RBI single with no outs in the seventh to chase Perdomo and give the Nationals a 5-1 lead. Pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza hit a sacrifice fly one batter earlier.

Adam Lind hit an RBI single in the sixth.

Washington's Michael A. Taylor robbed Yangervis Solarte of a home run with a perfectly timed leap to catch the ball above the 396 sign in center field leading off the second, and right fielder Andrew Stevenson made a nice running catch of Wil Myers' fly ball with a runner on third to end the fourth.

Perdomo (6-8) allowed five runs, three earned, and six hits while striking out five and walking three.