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Morse out until at least Tuesday

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Morse out until at least Tuesday

ATLANTA -- The Nationals will be without Michael Morse for their entire weekend series against the Braves, with manager Davey Johnson saying his left fielder likely won't be able to return from a left hand injury until Tuesday at the earliest.

Morse was initially hoping to take batting practice before tonight's series opener at Turner Field -- and potentially play -- but said he wasn't ready for that and hadn't really attempted to do anything with that hand since he removed himself from Tuesday's game in New York.

"I kind of thought it was being real optimistic that he'd be available today," Johnson said. "I think it's more likely next Tuesday. He's still bothered by it, and I didn't think it was going to heal in 48 hours."

Morse was diagnosed with a torn sheath and bone bruise, an injury he believes he initially sustained last month while compensating for a problem with his right thumb.

Because he played with it as long as he did, Morse is tempted to try to get back in the lineup as soon as possible. At the same time, he doesn't want to risk further injury that could affect his ability to play during the season's final weeks and beyond.

"Do I wait, trying to get it better? Or do I play?" he said. "It's kind of a balance."

Johnson said Morse would have to make it through an entire pregame workout before he'd consider a return, though he understands the injury may not heal 100 percent that quickly and the slugger may have to try playing through some pain.

"It also has to do with what you can tolerate," the manager said. "Obviously he's been trying to play through it, but he's dominant with the bottom hand, and that's the hand that the tear in the cuff is. So we'll have to wait and see."

Johnson doesn't feel an urgent need to rush Morse back, in part because of the options he has to replace him in left field. Roger Bernadina is starting tonight's series opener, though Tyler Moore could also get playing time before the weekend is up.

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Nationals beat Houston for the ninth straight time

Nationals beat Houston for the ninth straight time

HOUSTON -- Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer, Howie Kendrick had a two-run triple and the Washington Nationals beat Houston for the ninth straight time, 4-3 Tuesday night in a matchup of division leaders.

Washington's winning streak over the Astros dates to 2012. The Nationals have won 13 of 14 against Houston since 2011.

Kendrick's triple tied it in the third before the Astros went back on top with an RBI single by Josh Reddick in the bottom half. Anthony Rendon doubled with two outs in the fourth before the homer by Wieters, which landed just to the right of straightaway center field, gave the NL East leaders a 4-3 lead.

Tanner Roark (10-8) allowed six hits and two earned runs in 5 2-3 innings and Sean Doolittle pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save.

Charlie Morton (10-6) gave up four runs in six innings for the AL West-leading Astros.

The Astros threatened in the eighth against Brandon Kintzler when Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles and the Nationals intentionally walked Carlos Beltran with one out to load the bases. But Max Stassi grounded into a double play to leave Houston trailing.

George Springer led off the Houston first with a single, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Reddick.

Beltran doubled off the wall in left-center field in the second and scored on a single by Derek Fisher.

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Why Nationals' Max Scherzer picked college over pros — at first

Why Nationals' Max Scherzer picked college over pros — at first

When Max Scherzer was a teenager, he didn't know that one day he'd actually become a two-time Cy Young Award winner. He had no guarantee he'd make it to the majors, much less play in five consecutive MLB All-Star games. 

All he knew was that he had the option to go pro as a kid or go to college, and back then, the Nationals' ace needed a contingency plan in case baseball didn't work out. Fortunately for Scherzer, it did, but he doesn't regret going to college at the University of Missouri, telling Santana Moss on CSN's "Route 89" going to school was a no-brainer.

"It was actually a really easy decision," Scherzer told Moss. "When you get drafted out of high school, you're going to be going into the minor leagues, and that can take three to five or six years — multiple years — in the minor leagues, and you're forfeiting your right to further your education."

Scherzer was drafted in the 43rd round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003, but he opted to play for Mizzou for three years, which turned out to be a great decision. The Arizona Diamondbacks then drafted him in 2006 in the first round as the 11th overall pick. 

"A lot of times when you sign out of high school, you don't make it to the major leagues," Scherzer continued. "So I realize that your education — that's your safety net.

"You need to further your education in college, and if you do get drafted out of college, you're in a much better position to try to chase your dreams because if it doesn't work out, you still have one year left of school and that's much easier to obtain rather than try to go through four years when you're not coming out of high school."

MORE NATIONALS: Stephen Strasburg returns to the mound