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Nats shut out again by Marlins

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Nats shut out again by Marlins

It was only 12 days ago when Ricky Nolasco was handed the ball by Ozzie Guillen to face the Nationals and didn't give it back to his manager until he had completed a five-hit shutout.

When the 29-year-old right-hander was again handed the ball by Guillen on Sunday afternoon, members of the Nationals certainly were familiar with his repertoire and though that would have played to their advantage.

"Normally, I would say yes," Adam LaRoche said. "But I guess not in this case."

No, not at all. Nolasco didn't just enjoy another successful outing against the Nationals. He shut them out again, this time allowing a scant four hits while once again going the distance during an 8-0 throttling of the previously red-hot, best team in baseball.

"He did the exact same thing," LaRoche said. "He was the exact same pitcher. We knew what we getting. We knew what he has. He just locates to the point that you look up and its 0-2, 1-2 in your at-bat and you're grinding. Tip your hat to him. He did a great job."

It would be one thing if this appeared to be a downward trend for the Nationals lineup, except that doesn't appear to be the case at all. After Nolasco's previous gem in South Florida, the Nationals proceeded to score 84 runs over their next 11 games.

Then came Sunday's series finale, when they didn't produce a hit off Nolasco -- owner of a 2.75 ERA against Washington this year, 4.79 against everyone else -- until the fifth and didn't put two men on base in the same inning until the ninth.

"The guys say when he wants to, he's one heck of a pitcher," manager Davey Johnson said.

It didn't help that Johnson fielded a lineup minus two key regulars: Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond. Zimmerman was given a rare day off; Desmond asked out to give his lingering hamstring strain a rest.

Truth be told, the Nationals might have missed those players' presence in the field more than at the plate, especially Desmond.

With Danny Espinosa shifted to shortstop and Steve Lombardozzi taking over second base, Johnson sacrificed some range up the middle. That proved costly when the Marlins rapped out three consecutive, two-out, groundball singles up the middle to ignite a second-inning rally.

None of the grounders made for an easy play, but it was hard not to think Desmond at shortstop and Espinosa at second base might have had a better chance to snag at least one of them.

"No doubt. No doubt," Johnson said. "But those guys out there can play, too. Espi's played a great short, Lombo a great second. Those were just some well-placed balls, hard-hit."

The seeing-eye singles proved especially costly moments later, when Nolasco stepped to the plate and lofted a flyball to deep center field. Bryce Harper had to run a long way but was in position to make the catch, only to lose the ball in the sun at the last second and watch it fall harmlessly to the ground for a gift, two-run double.

That wasn't the only time the sun wreaked havoc with outfielders on Sunday. Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton also missed a routine flyball, and center fielder Justin Ruggiano nearly did as well before recovering in time to make the catch.

"It was just a big, bright blue sky, with a very large sun," Jayson Werth said. "It's hard to explain. If you're not out there every day, you wouldn't even notice. But it was tough to see, no question."

The three runs Miami scored in the top of the second weren't much the fault of Edwin Jackson, but the Nationals starter (celebrating his 29th birthday) didn't enjoy a strong afternoon. He let three more runs score later and wound up getting pulled with only two outs in the fifth, having been charged with six earned runs on nine hits, two walks and a hit batter.

"I've just got to do a better job of making pitches out of the stretch with men on base," Jackson said, "a better job of damage control."

By the time Jackson departed, the damage was done. When Stanton launched his 10th homer in 20 career games on South Capitol Street in the top of the seventh, the Nationals trailed by a touchdown.

By day's end, their offense never even advanced into the Red Zone.

Thus made for something of an awkward scene in the clubhouse, the laughter and playfulness that usually comes on the day veterans make rookies dress up for a train ride to New York -- this year's costume: leotards made to look like those worn by the U.S. Olympics women's gymnastics team -- offset by the sting of a lopsided loss and the realization their lead over the Braves in the NL East is down to 5 12 games with 22 to play.

"I don't look at it as we beat ourselves today; we got beat," LaRoche said. "We caught a good pitcher on his game, we were a little bit off ours. Overall it wasn't a sloppy game, it was just good old butt-whupping."

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Nats beat Mariners behind Joe Ross' career day in return from minors

Nats beat Mariners behind Joe Ross' career day in return from minors

WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon homered twice and drove in five runs, Joe Ross returned from the minors to allow one run over a career high-tying eight innings, and the Washington Nationals routed the Seattle Mariners 10-1 on Tuesday night.

Bryce Harper added his 14th homer and Jayson Werth hit his seventh off Chris Bergman (1-2), who allowed all of the Nationals' runs and 14 of their 15 hits.

Rendon doubled before his second homer -- and seventh of the season -- completed an eight-run fourth inning. Ryan Zimmerman also had three hits.

Mike Zunino homered off Ross (2-0) in his return from his own minor league stint. Robinson Cano was hitless in his first game back from the disabled list following a thigh injury as Seattle dropped its fourth straight.

Ross showed no signs of the late April struggles that ended with a demotion to Triple-A Syracuse. He yielded five hits and a walk while striking out six, and retired 12 straight batters after a leadoff single to begin the game.

By the time Seattle finally put multiple runners aboard, Washington had already opened a 10-0 lead.

Rendon's second-inning shot around the left field foul pole made it 2-0.

Then Werth, Harper and Rendon all connected in the fourth, helping the Nationals score seven of their eight runs in the inning with two outs.

MORE NATIONALS: WATCH: Werth, Harper go back-to-back, Rendon hits 2 HRs in Nationals win

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WATCH: Werth and Harper go back-to-back, Rendon hits 2 HRs in Nats win

WATCH: Werth and Harper go back-to-back, Rendon hits 2 HRs in Nats win

The Nationals had a big day at the plate Tuesday night.

Washington hit four home runs, including three in an eight-run fourth inning, in its 10-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon hit two home runs – the first a two-run blast to left field in the second inning and the second a three-run shot to center in the fourth. He finished the game 3-for-4 with five RBIs.

Prior to Rendon’s second homer in the fourth inning, left fielder Jayson Werth hit a two-run blast to left field, which was followed by a solo shot from right fielder Bryce Harper in the next at-bat.

Harper’s homer was measured at 450 feet.

At the end of the fourth, the Nationals led 10-0, which also included an RBI single from catcher Matt Wieters and an RBI triple from shortstop Trea Turner.

Tuesday night’s contest was the first of a three-game home series against the Mariners, who play in the American League. The Nationals and Mariners also will play Wednesday and Thursday.

Earlier this season in a 23-5 win over the New York Mets on April 30, Rendon went 6-for-6 with three home runs and 10 RBIs to become the first player to accomplish that feat since at least 1913. He now has seven homers this season.

Harper’s homer was his 14th of the season, tying him for first in the National League with the Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman. The New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge is first with 15.

Though he did not have a home run Tuesday night, Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has 13 for the season.

MORE NATIONALS: 2017 MLB Power Rankings: As Bryce Harper goes, so do the Nationals