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Nationals pick up sweep of Braves behind Stephen Strasburg's strong night

Nationals pick up sweep of Braves behind Stephen Strasburg's strong night

ATLANTA -- Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run homer, Stephen Strasburg struck out 10 and the Washington Nationals completed a three-game sweep with a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.

A night after had 14 runs on 20 hits, the Nationals couldn't solve R.A. Dickey's knuckleball until Zimmerman homered in the sixth to erase a 2-1 deficit.

Strasburg (2-0) allowed two runs, six hits and two walks in seven innings, winning his first start at SunTrust Park after going 4-3 with a 4.37 ERA in 10 outings at Turner Field. Strasburg improved to 72-8 when the Nationals score at least three runs.

Shawn Kelley had an eventful ninth before earning his second save in three tries. He retired the first two batters before Kurt Suzuki singled and pinch-hitter Tyler Flowers walked. Ender Inciarte followed with a game-ending flyout.

Atlanta went 4-3 on its first homestand at its new ballpark, where it opened by sweeping a four-game series from San Diego.

Dickey (1-2) gave up three runs and three hits in seven innings.

Zimmerman, who has hit safely in 12 of 15 games, doubled to begin the second and scored on Michael Taylor's sacrifice fly, then hit his fifth homer.

Dickey hit an RBI grounder in the second, and Kurt Suzuki had a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

WELCOME BACK, NOT REALLY

Matt Kemp came off the 10-day DL and couldn't catch up to Strasburg's fastball, striking out three times. Kemp, who missed eight games with a sore hamstring, grounded out softly to reliever Koda Glover in the eighth.

NICE GLOVES

Washington RF Bryce Harper ran forward to make a shoestring catch to save two runs in the second. ... Taylor ran up and dove to catch Phillips' liner to save a run in the sixth. ... Strasburg got some good defense behind him in the seventh by LF Adam Eaton, who had to adjust his glove wrist up on a running catch, and 3B Anthony Rendon, who was guarding the foul line and dropped to the ground before throwing out Adonis Garcia.

COOLED OFF

Braves 1B Freddie Freeman was leading the majors with a .440 average but went 0 for 4.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 2B Daniel Murphy was scratched from the lineup with right leg tightness. Manager Dusty Baker said he could tell Murphy wasn't following through with his swing during Wednesday's 14-4 win. ... Baker said SS Trea Turner, on the 10-day DL since April 10 with a strained right hamstring, will be activated Friday at the New York Mets but likely won't start. ... LF Jayson Werth was held out of the lineup with a sore groin.

Braves: SS Dansby Swanson wasn't injured, but manager Brian Snitker gave him a scheduled night off from the starting lineup. Swanson pinch ran in the ninth.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (2-0) has a 3.50 ERA in three starts. He is 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in five starts and three relief appearances at Citi Field, where the Nationals open a series Friday.

Braves: RHP Bartolo Colon (1-1) has a 4.24 ERA in three starts going into Friday's outing at Philadelphia.

Related: Bryce Harper mashes grand slam, still dominates Braves pitcher

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Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

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USA Today Sports

Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison homered Friday night and the Tampa Bay Rays clinched third place in the AL East with a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Longoria led off the fifth with his 20th homer off Baltimore starter Wade Miley, marking Longoria's fifth straight 20-homer season and the ninth of his 10-year career.

RELATED: WILD CARD RACES WITH THREE DAYS REMAINING

Morrison hit his 38th homer off reliever Chris Tillman in the seventh.

Rays starter Jake Odorizzi left his final start of the season after four innings with a sore right knee.

Brad Boxberger (4-4) got the win as the first of four Tampa Bay relievers.

Miley (8-15) lost his fifth straight start, giving up four runs and five hits in four innings. He walked five, raising his major league-leading total to 93. The Baltimore bullpen gave up five more walks.

Trey Mancini had one of Baltimore's four hits. It was Mancini's 158th hit, tying Cal Ripken (1982) for second-place all-time among Oriole rookies.

The Orioles, shut out for the 11th time, lost for the 17th time in 21 games and dropped three games behind Tampa Bay with two games left in the season.

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MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

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USA TODAY Sports

MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

With the MLB postseason only five days away and three more days in the regular season the playoff field is almost set.

After Thursday night’s action, the St. Louis Cardinals were eliminated from the second Wild Card spot in the National League. Their 2-1 loss to the Cubs put them too far out of reach of the Rockies.

In the American League the AL East race is all but done after the Yankees lost on Thursday.

RELATED: NEW MLB BRACKET PROJECTION WITH ONE WEEK TO GO

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Not too many changes in the American League race after yesterday.

The New York Yankees (89-70) lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 9-6 at home after entering the day only three games back in the division. While the Boston Red Sox (92-67) lost too, three games to surpass is too much for even the Bronx Bombers to overcome.

It will be interesting though to watch both teams sweat. Boston hosts the Houston Astros who are trying to overtake the Indians for the top seed in the AL. New York hosts division rivals Toronto.

The Minnesota Twins (83-76) lost to the Indians after allowing 10 hits in the contest. Win or lose it does not matter how they end the season because they will be the No. 5 seed and the visitors in the American League Wild Card Game. Presumably it will be against the Yankees.

AL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

New York Yankees:     +6.0 
Minnesota Twins:           ---
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Colorado was off on Thursday night in preparation for their final series of the year against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Milwaukee Brewers (84-75) did manage to gain a half game with their nail biting 4-3 win over the Reds. Brett Phillips hit a go-ahead double in the sixth inning and the final three frames remained scoreless for both squads.

They now move to two games back of the Colorado Rockies (86-73) with three games to go.

Colorado will host their final series against the Dodgers. Milwaukee is traveling to the St. Louis Cardinals (82-77) for their final three games. St. Louis is now out of contention, four games out of the final Wild Card spot.

FanGraphs.com now has Colorado at a 93.3 percent chance of taking the final postseason spot.  Milwaukee moved up slightly to 6.7 percent.

MORE NATS: WALK-OFF FOR THE NATS, COURTESY OF DE AZA

NL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

#4 Arizona Diamondbacks:  +6.0
Colorado Rockies:                   ---
Milwaukee Brewers:              -2.0