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Edwin Jackon's performance not enough

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Edwin Jackon's performance not enough

Game in a nutshell: Edwin Jackson was brilliant, striking out 11 and carrying a shutout into the seventh inning. But Jon Niese was equally as dominant, scattering five hits without issuing a walk over 7 13 innings. In the end, this game was decided by a two-batter stretch in the top of the seventh: David Wright drew a leadoff walk, then seconds later Ike Davis sent a two-run homer into the left-field bullpen. And that was it. The Nats never managed to push a run across against Niese or a New York bullpen that boasts the majors' highest ERA (5.05). It was a surprisingly disappointing performance from a lineup that had been inflicting serious damage on opposing pitchers over the last month. And it was particularly disheartening given Jackson's fine start. Thus, the Nationals missed a chance to improve to 30 games over .500 and secure another series victory.

Hitting lowlight: They really didn't have any legitimate scoring opportunities all night, never advancing a runner to third base. But if the Nationals lineup want to look back at one moment when they might have gotten something going, they could point to the bottom of the sixth of what was still a scoreless game. Danny Espinosa led off with a little dribbler down the third-base line for an infield single. Ryan Zimmerman tagged a ball to center field, but it was tracked down by Andres Torres. Michael Morse then struck out looking for the second straight at-bat, and Adam LaRoche was robbed of a hit (maybe extra bases) by Davis, who made a nice scoop at first base. Perhaps the credit should go to Niese and the Mets, but that was a potentially wasted opportunity for the Nationals on a night in which they didn't have many to begin with.

Pitching highlight: Under normal circumstances, you'd think seven innings of two-hit, 11-strikeout ball would be good enough to earn a win. Not on this night for Jackson. The right-hander was absolutely dominant for six innings, giving up only Mike Baxter's early triple without issuing a walk. But with his teammates unable to provide any run support, Jackson entered the seventh with no margin for error. Unfortunately, he walked David Wright to open the inning, then served up a two-run homer to Davis on the very next pitch. A brilliant start by Jackson went for naught.

Key stat: A sellout crowd of 42,662 (second-largest in Nationals Park history) paid to watch pennant race baseball in the District at the same time the local NFL team was playing an exhibition game.

Up next: The series concludes with Sunday's 1:35 p.m. game at Nationals Park. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will be seeking his league-leading 16th victory against right-hander Jeremy Hefner.

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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. 

TRY THIS: 20 THINGS DC SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT. YES, HAPPY.

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.

RELATED: COUNTLESS ERRORS DOOM NATIONALS IN SEASON-ENDING LOSS

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.