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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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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER THANKS NATIONALS' FANS FOR SUPPORT

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.

RELATED: HARPER THANKS FANS FOR SUPPORT