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Bryce Harper homers twice, Nationals beat Reds 5-0

Bryce Harper homers twice, Nationals beat Reds 5-0

CINCINNATI -- Gio Gonzalez pitched four-hit ball into the ninth inning, and Bryce Harper extended his mid-July tear with a pair of homers on Friday night, leading the Washington Nationals to a 5-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Gonzalez (8-4) snapped his streak of three straight tough-luck losses. He allowed a double and three infield singles before leaving with one out in the ninth after his 113th pitch. Matt Albers gave up three singles, and Matt Grace escaped the bases-loaded threat for his first save.

The Reds were shut out for only the second time this season. Four of their seven hits were infield singles.

Harper had a two-run shot and a solo homer off Tim Adleman (5-7) as the NL's top offense got right back in form after the All-Star break. Harper has 22 homers overall, four during his nine-game hitting streak.

The Nationals lead the league in most categories on offense and featured three starting position players in the All-Star Game -- Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy. Murphy got a planned day off on Friday, and the rest of the offense carried on without him.

Anthony Rendon extended his hitting streak to eight games with an RBI single. Stephen Drew also drove in a run with a single off Adleman, who lasted only 4 1/3 innings -- his season low for a start that didn't involve an injury.

Gonzalez had lost his last three starts despite allowing a total of five runs, getting little help from his offense or the bullpen. Everything fell into place to end the streak.

The Reds got only two runners as far as second base against Gonzalez, who walked two and struck out six.

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Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez and Matt Wieters aren't the only important guys within the Nationals organization becoming free agents in 2019.

President of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo is also becoming a free agent when his contract expires on October 31st.

In the final year of his five-year contract, the 57-year old is set to make $2.5 million.

RELATED: HOWIE KENDRICK RETURNING TO NATIONALS

Since joining the organization, Rizzo has turned the team into a legit World Series contender. They've won four division titles in the last six years under his guidance, but have been unable to get over the NL Division series hump. And even though that's a glaring red mark on his resume, Rizzo knows the success he's brought to the organization. 

When you look at what we accomplished,’’ Mike Rizzo said in a recent interview, “it’s really unsung and underappreciated. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished here. I like it here. I love the city. I love the team I put together. I like being a GM in the NL East. And I want to stay here. I just think I deserve to be treated like some of the best GMs in the game are, too.

Rizzo is talking about GM's like Cubs' Theo Epstein and Yankees' Brian Cashman, who've received big paydays over the last year.

I know we haven’t won the World Series, but I get tired of hearing how we can’t win the big one, or we can’t get out of the first round. We haven’t had that many chances.

Does Rizzo deserve an extension? The Sports Junkies think he does, but with GM's like the ones above cashing out, they can also see him wanting to test the open market.

"Why wouldn't they?", said Jason Bishop, noting his track record.

"There's a sense he wants to test the market," said Eric Bickel. That's the vibe I'm getting from him."

Rizzo is a weekly guest on the Junkies and has said that the organization will figure it out. However, the 2018 season may be the last time for a long time the Nats have a real shot at making a run before they lose some of their stars to other teams. If Rizzo does take that into consideration and decides to go elsewhere, the Junkies don't see him having any issues finding employment.

"If there was a time to roll, it would be after this season when you get your last run with this group," said Eric Bickel. And then If they don't pay you what you think you deserve, he'll be snatched up in 22 seconds."

RELATED: BEST OF NATS' RACING PRESIDENT TRYOUTS

If they do decide to sign him to an extension, will it be a long, drawn-out ordeal? The Junkies disagree on that one. 

"He is too valuable, Jason Bishop said. He's too valuable. You gotta ink him to a deal sometime during the season."

Luckily for D.C. sports fans, long, drawn-out extension talks aren't foreign to them.

To see their full discussion, click the media player above. 

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

WASHINGTON  -- The Nationals have agreed to a $7 million, two-year contract with outfielder Howie Kendrick, a deal subject to a successful physical.

Agent Pat Murphy confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on Monday. USA Today was first to report the deal.

Kendrick, 34, hit .293 with seven home runs and RBIs in 52 games with Washington after he was acquired from Philadelphia. The versatile right-handed hitter got just three plate appearances off the bench in the playoffs.

In 12 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Dodgers, Phillies and Nationals, Kendrick is a .291 hitter with a .755 OPS. He's now primarily an outfielder for Washington after playing left field, second base, first base and other positions throughout his career.