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Nats, 'Sun Monster' get revenge vs. Brewers

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Nats, 'Sun Monster' get revenge vs. Brewers

Playing at home against the Brewers with the Atlanta Braves enjoying a day off, the Nationals were given a chance to create some separation and lower their magic number to win the division to five. The previous day they had lost to Milwaukee with the help of a few unfortunate encounters with the sun on outfield fly balls. But on this day, it was the Brewers who felt its wrath.

You know, you gotta be lucky. We were lucky today. It really probably cost them the game today and cost us the game yesterday, Jayson Werth said.

I don't remember a worse sun field, worse sun conditions. Left field in San Fran is tough, but this borders on ridiculous. Ive never seen anything like it. You almost dont have a chance out there as the game goes on.

Not only was Werth one of the Nationals players who lost a ball in the sun in Sundays loss, it was he who hit the fly ball that Carlos Gomez lost in Mondays 12-2 win. Werth stepped to the plate in the fourth inning to face Brewers starter Marco Estrada with Jordan Zimmermann on second and Kurt Suzuki on first. He popped a towering fly ball to center field where Gomez jogged in to get under it. Gomez sidestepped slowly before realizing he had lost it and ended up diving in a last attempt to catch the ball. Both men on base scored as the Nationals took a 4-1 lead.

The two-out rally continued as Bryce Harper walked to join Werth on base. After a double steal by Werth and Harper, Ryan Zimmerman crushed a three-run homer to right-center to blow open the game and give the Nationals an early sigh of relief against one of the leagues hottest teams.

My guys feel it. Theres no doubt about it. The ballclub, we ran into a hot club. Theyre swinging the bats awfully good, Davey Johnson said.

We needed to hold our own with them and we did. So its a good win to go on this road trip six days against a couple good ballclubs, too. I mean, theyre feeling it.

The timing was good but so perhaps was the nature of the win. Nearly every player on the lineup card today contributed on offense and defense, even pitcher Jordan Zimmermann.

The Nats starter gave up one earned run in 6 23 innings of work, a solo home run by Corey Hart on the very first pitch of the second inning. After that he settled down and kept Milwaukee scoreless until he was hooked after his 106th pitch of the afternoon. He finished with four hits and two walks allowed with seven strikeouts.

On offense Zimmermann also pitched in by going two for three with a pair of singles. He led off the third inning with his first hit and knocked in the teams second run with a two-out grounder up the middle in the fourth inning.

As a pitcher he is now 12-8 on the season with a 2.90 ERA through 189 13 innings.

I was throwing the fastball for strikes and getting ahead. When I do that, I feel like I can control the game and throw what I want when I want. Tonight I was able to do that, he said.

As a hitter he had two hits, a run, and an RBI.

Its awesome. Anytime I can get on base is good. I saw a curveball and hit it up the middle and the other one was a fastball or I dont know, maybe a changeup I broke my bat on and blooped it out there.

Zimmermanns all-around day also just happened to come against his hometown team.

Its definitely good to beat the Brewers. Everyone back home was probably cheering for the Brewers, so hopefully I put em in their place a little bit.

As much as Zimmermann did for the team on Monday, it was Ryan Zimmerman who had the biggest impact. The Nationals third baseman also added an RBI in the eighth inning on a fly ball to right. Two runners scored on the play as Milwaukees Norichika Aoki made an error fielding the ball. Zimmerman had two runs on the day and now has 24 homers, 90 runs, and 93 RBI on the season.

Next up for the Nationals is a three game series with the Phillies, a team they will see in six of their final nine games. The magic number is at five as Atlanta gets set to host the Miami Marlins. Winning the division has been their goal for quite some time and with each win they get one step closer.

Were getting close. Weve just got to take it one game at a time and not try to look too far ahead. Just go to Philly and try to take care of business there and see what happens, Zimmermann said.

NOTES: Ian Desmond stole his 20th base of the season in the fifth inning to become only the second Nats player to do so since the club moved to D.C. (Alfonso Soriano in 2006) Eury Perez had his first major league hit in the ninth inning when he ran out an infield groundball.

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Nationals beat Braves, snap losing skid behind Stephen Strasburg's strong start

Nationals beat Braves, snap losing skid behind Stephen Strasburg's strong start

ATLANTA (AP) -- Stephen Strasburg struck out a season-high 11 and kept up his recent domination of the Atlanta Braves, leading Washington to a 3-2 win Sunday that stopped the Nationals' four-game losing streak.

Strasburg (5-1) allowed five hits in 7 2/3 innings, beating Atlanta for the second time this season and improving to 7-1 in his last nine starts against the Braves. He is 10-8 overall against Atlanta.

He reached double digits in strikeouts for the second time this season after fanning 10 Braves on April 20.

Strasburg faded in the eighth, when Dansby Swanson hit a two-run double. Koda Glover struck out Nick Markakis to end the inning and finished the six-hitter for his third save.

Daniel Murphy hit a second-inning homer off Jaime Garcia (1-3) and the Nationals added two unearned runs in the third.

Matt Adams was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and hit into a ninth-inning double play in his debut for Atlanta, a day after he was acquired from St. Louis. Matt Kemp led off the ninth, and Adams hit a line drive that was caught by Ryan Zimmerman, who stepped on first base.

Garcia allowed three runs -- one earned -- and seven hits in eight innings with no walks.

Washington took a 3-0 lead in the third following fielding errors by Markakis in right and Garcia. Bryce Harper had a run-scoring single.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 3B Anthony Rendon and C Matt Wieters were given days off from the starting lineup. Rendon entered at third base in the eighth.

Braves: RHP Kris Medlen allowed one hits in six scoreless innings Saturday in his first start for Class A Florida. He missed most of 2016 with shoulder problems after his second Tommy John surgery. "That would be a real nice piece to have," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. Medlen pitched for Kansas City in 2015-16 and his last season with Atlanta was in 2013, when he was 15-12 with a 3.11 ERA.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Following an off day, RHP Jacob Turner (2-2) is expected to start when the Nationals will open a series against Seattle on Tuesday.

Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (2-4) will take a 0-3 career record in three starts against Pittsburgh into Monday night's series opener against the Pirates.

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

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

A week ago, the Nationals were looking unstoppable. Bryce Harper was hitting walkoff dingers left and right, there were multiple winning streaks, and the bullpen was only sorta bad. 

2017 MLB POWER RANKINGS

A week's worth of games later - against the Braves, Pirates and Phillies, no less - and the Nats don't look nearly as stainless. Harper's hitting under .200 since his Mother's Day walkoff, the team lost 5 of 6, and the bullpen turned back into a pumpkin. Because of that, there's a new team at the top of the Power Rankings this week. Who is it? To the rankings! 

30. MIAMI MARLINS

2017 Record: 15-28
Previous Ranking: 24
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Notable Performance: Dee Gordon (.318/.400/.364 last week)

Stanton hasn't homered in over two weeks, a stretch of 12 games. After going 2-8 over the last 10, including that weird Dodgers game, the Marlins have seen better weeks.  

29. SAN DIEGO PADRES

2017 Record: 16-30
Previous Ranking: 29
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Notable Performance: Brad Hand (.300/.500/.600 last week)

Wil Myers' underwhelming season continues. The outfielder is hitting .150 over the last week, and only .219 over the last month. The Padres best position player is only worth .6 bWAR, and that's 5th-best on the team.

28. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

2017 Record: 15-26
Previous Ranking: 23
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Notable Performance: Daniel Nava (.429/.429/.571 last week)

They ran into Texas at exactly the wrong time. Getting starts that are consistently like Aaron Nola's last one will be huge for his development this season. 

27. KANSAS CITY ROYALS

2017 Record: 18-25
Previous Ranking: 27
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Notable Performance: Lorenzo Cain (.087/.125/.087 last week)

They're starting to play better, but upcomming series with the Yankees and Indians aren't making life any easier for KC. Jason Vargas (?!) has been their most valuable player this year (2.0 bWAR). 

26. ATLANTA BRAVES

2017 Record: 18-23
Previous Ranking: 30
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Notable Performance: Matt Kemp (.375/.423/.708 last week)

Losing Freeman for three months because of some dumb unspoken beef is just a testament to how stupid unwritten baseball rules are. The silver lining to this year, though, is that the Braves are going to fleece some team for Matt Kemp in July. 

SEE THE REST OF THE RANKINGS HERE