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Nationals look to complete sweep of Cardinals behind ace Max Scherzer

Nationals look to complete sweep of Cardinals behind ace Max Scherzer

WASHINGTON -- Mike Leake was 22 years old when he broke into the major leagues with the Cincinnati Reds in 2010.

His skipper was Dusty Baker, who managed the Reds through the 2013 season. Leake won 42 games under Baker from 2010-13.

"It was awesome," said Leake on Tuesday, standing in the St. Louis Cardinals' clubhouse at Nationals Park. "I couldn't ask for a better first manager. He treated me like a son and I appreciate that."

Leake will face his former manager on Wednesday when he starts on the mound against Baker's Washington Nationals in the series finale in the nation's capital.

The Nationals' starter will be Max Scherzer, who won the National League Cy Young Award last season when he was 20-7 with a 2.96 ERA.

Leake was 9-12 in 30 starts for the Cardinals last season -- his first with the club. He will be challenged by Washington's offense, which had 19 hits against St. Louis in a 14-6 win Monday and then 11 more with three homers in an 8-3 victory Tuesday.

"I feel like I had a pretty good spring. I look forward to facing these guys," Leake said. "It is a tough lineup that can hurt you at any time. You have to be ready for them. I know they are led by a good manager."

Leake has enjoyed success in his career against the heart of the Washington order.

Second baseman Daniel Murphy is hitting just .238 against him in 21 at-bats, while first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has an average of .211 in 19 at-bats. Murphy had four hits and drove in five runs Tuesday.

Right fielder Bryce Harper is just 3-for-13 against Leake, but two of those hits are homers. The best everyday hitter for the Nationals against Leake is left fielder Jayson Werth, who is batting .292 in 24 trips to the plate. He hit one of the homers Tuesday.

"A veteran guy," Cardinals catcher Eric Fryer said of Leake. "In the spring he was effective in getting ahead of the hitters. When he keeps it on the ground, he is very effective."

"I will be watching the first couple of days from the side and if I need further evidence of what I can't see I will go to the tape," Leake said of facing Washington. "I have faced most of these guys."

Scherzer will make his second start of the year after he won at Philadelphia on Friday.

The right-hander from St. Louis went 6 2/3 innings and gave up two runs and four hits in his first start of the year.

Scherzer hopes to get support from an offense that has included a rare hot start from Zimmerman, who hit a career-low .218 last season but is batting .367 this year.

"I am just excited to get off to a good start," Zimmerman told 106.7 The Fan on Tuesday. "Not many times in my career I have gotten off to a good start. Our lineup is so good."

The Nationals own the top batting average in the league, but they lost shortstop and leadoff hitter Trea Turner to the disabled list on Monday. He was replaced as the leadoff hitter by Adam Eaton, who had three hits Monday.

"Our lineup is so good. Eaton jumps right into the leadoff spot," Zimmerman told 106.7 The Fan. "It is a fun lineup to be a part of."

Related: Daniel Murphy has career night against Cardinals

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Trea Turner hits for the cycle despite freezing Colorado temperature

Trea Turner hits for the cycle despite freezing Colorado temperature

DENVER (AP) -- Trea Turner has hit for the third cycle in Washington Nationals history against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night.

Turner also has a career-high seven RBIs on a cold night in the Mile High City.

He had a single in the first, a two-run double in the second, a two-run homer in the sixth and a bases-loaded triple in the seventh.

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The field temperature was a balmy 37 degrees when Turner recorded the final part of his cycle in the seventh inning.

It was the first cycle by the Nationals since Cristian Guzman on Aug. 28, 2008.

Overall, this was the ninth cycle in Expos/Nationals history.

In addition, Turner's seven RBIs are tied for the second-most in a single game in Nationals history.

The Nationals hung on to beat the Rockies 15-12 after giving up seven runs in the final three innings.

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Bryce Harper named National League Player of the Week

Bryce Harper named National League Player of the Week

If you've understandably been caught up with the Capitals and Wizards in their respective playoff series, you might not be aware of just how hot Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper is right now. Fresh off a three-game sweep of the rival Mets in New York, Harper was named National League Player of the Week. 

For the whole week, Harper hit .550 (11-for-20) with four doubles, three home runs, seven RBI, seven walks and 10 runs scored. 

He is now leading all of baseball in batting average (.400), he's tied for second in homers (7), and he's alone in second in RBI (20). He's also amassed a blistering 1.340 OPS through the team's first 18 games. 

Harper's biggest game of the past week came in Atlanta when he went yard twice, with his second homer being a grand slam. He finished the game 4-for-4 with two homers, one double, five RBI, one walk and four runs scored. 

With Harper's injuries from last season behind him (even though he won't completely admit to being hurt), the Nationals' right fielder is back to, or even better than, his 2015 form that ended with his first career MVP award. During that season Harper took home player of the week honors three times. 

The Nationals as a team have the best record in baseball at 13-5, and already have a three-game lead in the NL East. 

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