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Andrew Stevenson makes game saving catch to help Nationals beat Marlins

Andrew Stevenson makes game saving catch to help Nationals beat Marlins

WASHINGTON -- On a team loaded with stars, two rookies played key roles in Washington's win Thursday night.

Brian Goodwin had two hits, including a home run into the second deck leading off the eighth inning, Andrew Stevenson made a game-saving catch and the Nationals rallied past the Miami Marlins 3-2.

Goodwin broke a 2-2 tie when he connected on a 1-0 fastball from Junichi Tazawa (1-2) for his 13th homer of the season and second RBI of the night.

"He's a quick learner," manager Dusty Baker said. "How many teams could lose two centerfielders (Adam Eaton and Michael Taylor) and then (Goodwin) steps up?"

Due to injuries, Goodwin has played in 72 games for Washington, and his 35 extra base hits rank fourth among NL rookies.

Washington got three innings of scoreless relief from its recent bullpen acquisitions.

Brandon Kintzler handled the seventh inning, Ryan Madson (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth and Sean Doolittle worked around a one-out double by Miguel Rojas in the ninth for his seventh save since coming to Washington.

"Those guys are coming in and they're shutting people down," Goodwin said. "They're going right at hitters and attacking them and they're being kind of vicious about it."

Madson got a huge assist in the ninth from rookie left fielder Stevenson.

Stevenson made a diving catch near the foul line on a bloop by Dee Gordon with a runner on third to save a hit for the game's final out.

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Giancarlo Stanton, who hit his Major League-leading 39th home run of the season, earlier in the game, was on deck.

"Off the bat I knew it was slicing, I figured I had a good chance at it though," Stevenson said. "He was a little late on the fastball. He hit it right where we thought he would."

Washington took three of four in the series and leads second-place Miami by 15 games in the NL East.

Washington starter Tanner Roark allowed two runs, four hits and five walks (two intentional) over six innings. Since the All-Star break, Roark is 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA.

Dan Straily of Miami had allowed only one baserunner before Adrian Sanchez led off the sixth with a double just inside third base.

After Roark bunted Sanchez to third, Goodwin smacked a single past a diving Gordon to score Washington's first run. Goodwin stole second, and - after a missed a sign - Bryce Harper doubled off the wall with first base open and Ryan Zimmerman on deck.

"We've got a back pick on (at second), and instead of throwing the back pick we throw a pitch," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "So that cost us basically. We were going to have to go after Zimmerman there instead of Harper, but we ended up going after the wrong guy."

After Gordon singled to open the third, Stanton homered to make it 2-0.

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

On Thursday night, a Washington, D.C. pro sports team did something Washington, D.C. pro sports teams are very good at doing: fall short of making a league or championship game.

The Nationals' disastrous fifth inning against the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series was the beginning of the end, not to mention yet another in a long line of disappointing playoff results for Washington, D.C. sports teams.

You see, Washington, D.C. is the only city with at least three major pro sports teams to not have a single one make a conference or league championship game since 2000.

To make matters worse, Washington, D.C. sports teams have now lost 16 consecutive playoff games in which a win would've advanced the team to the conference or league championship. 

Think about that for a second. Four teams. Zero conference championship appearances since 1998. 

Here's the list.

Washington, D.C. sports fans are not greedy. We can't be. We've had some very good teams recently, with the type of talent, coaching and intangibles needed to win a championship. 

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The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team won a world championship was in 1992 when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI.  The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team even made a conference championship game was in 1998, when the Capitals advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, defeating the Sabres to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington, D.C. isn't allowed to have nice sports things.

Sure, we have great players and great teams, but when the playoffs roll around, all the nice things go away. We aren't privy to plucky upstarts who run the table and we aren't privy to dominant teams that make long postseason runs.

Washington, D.C. will have its day, eventually. Sure it may only be a conference championship appearance, but for us, that's fine. We don't expect world championships. We just want something to get invested in.

Early playoff exits are rarely worth the investment.

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With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

"This is the year."

That's the motto for almost every D.C. sports fan when their team is headed for the postseason.

The Nats led a weak NL East the entire season and clinched a spot to play October baseball early into September.

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The team overcame the obstacle of being plagued with injuries and with pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer having a strong bullpen to back them up, the stars were aligning for the team to go all the way.

But now with players like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy having contracts up for grabs in 2019, Nationals reporter Chelsea Janes says 2017 was really the last chance for the team to win a stress-free title.

"I think those questions you've raised like Bryce [Harper's] contract, [Daniel} Murphy may be leaving, you know Rizzo's contract's up after next year, I think those are the things they didn't have to deal with this year that made this such a free chance," Janes said on the Sports Junkies Friday.

"It was a free chance to just feel good and do it now and not have everyone say this is your absolute last chance, and next year it's their absolute last chance for a little while, I think."

"I mean they're not going to be awful in '19, but they're going to be different and I think they've sort of wasted their free pass here and there's legitimate and kind of unrelenting pressure on them next year to make it happen."

It's hard to make sense of what a team will look like one day after a devastating series loss. One thing that is fairly certain is that time is ticking for the Nats to make it happen with arguably the most talented group of players they've ever had.