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Giants snap Nats' winning streak as Cain dominates again

Giants snap Nats' winning streak as Cain dominates again

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 7-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night at Nationals Park.

How it happened: Matt Cain was once a perennial Cy Young candidate and a cornerstone piece of a World Series dynasty built on pitching. He tossed one of the most impressive perfect games in baseball history and looked like a man destined for Cooperstown. Those accolades earned him one of the most lucrative contracts in the history of the sport.

Cain, though, hasn't struck fear in an opposing lineup for years. Since 2012, he simply hasn't been the same guy. He's lost velocity, movement and the confidence of his fanbase. Though he still holds a rotation spot on one of baseball's best teams, he's a shell of his former self.

But the Nats, for whatever reason, do not fall in line with Cain's recent history. On Saturday night at Nationals Park, he baffled them through five shutout innings. This came on the heels of the five no-hit frames he tossed against the Nats on July 31. That's 10 scoreless innings for Cain - who walked off the mound with a 5.16 ERA - against the Nats all in one week.

It's not like the Nats' offense wasn't playing well in recent days, either. They entered Saturday having scored 37 runs in their last four games. Cain just halted their momentum in dominant fashion.

While Cain was good, Stephen Strasburg had a rare off-night. He made it only 4 2/3 innings for his shortest outing of the season. Strasburg allowed four earned runs on eight hits and a walk.

Strasburg wasn't great, but it was the Nats' offense that truly held them back. The Nats went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position with their only run coming on a Danny Espinosa RBI single in the eighth inning. One of their best opportunities came in the fourth when Espinosa's 18th hit-by-pitch of the season loaded the bases with one out. But Ben Revere then grounded into a forceout at home and Strasburg grounded out to end the frame.

The Giants got their fifth run in the seventh inning off reliever Blake Treinen. Buster Posey brought in Eduardo Nunez with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0. Nunez had four hits in the game after recording just two in his first seven outings with the Giants since joining them at the trade deadline.

The Giants scored another in the eighth off Oliver Perez. Ehire Adrianza landed a pinch-hit RBI single to score Hunter Pence. Their seventh run came on Brandon Belt's 13th homer, a solo shot off Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth.

The Nationals had their four-game winning streak snapped in the loss.

What it means: The Nats fell to 65-45 on the season overall and to 3-3 against the Giants. The winner of Sunday's finale takes the season series between the teams.

Strasburg's shortest start: Strasburg just didn't have it on this particular night. Despite striking out eight batters, the right-hander couldn't even make it through the fifth inning. Manager Dusty Baker pulled him after 88 pitches with a man on first and two outs in the fifth, a situation he would normally let his pitcher try to fight through. Clearly, Baker saw something wrong with his ace.

Strasburg threw three scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fourth. He gave up an RBI single to Posey and then walked Joe Panik with the bases loaded to score another run. It was the first time in Strasburg's career that he's walked in a run.

Strasburg gave up two more runs in the fifth inning, one on a double to Belt and another on a Brandon Crawford sacrifice fly. Belt's double scored Nunez, who had reached with his second triple of the night. Strasburg had yet to allow a triple all season before giving up two to Nunez. Ironically, the last time Strasburg gave up a triple he also gave up two in one game and that also came against the Giants, in a loss on Aug. 13 of last year.

Werth keeps it going: Like most of the Nats' lineup, Jayson Werth didn't have an exceptional game on offense. He went 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. That walk, though, extended Werth's streak of reaching base to 37 straight games. That's a new high for the 2016 MLB season, besting Marcell Ozuna's 36 straight set back on May 29. 

Werth passed Denard Span - now with the Giants - for sole possession of second place in Nats history with his on-base streak. He now trails only Ryan Zimmerman, who got on in 43 straight games back in 2009. During Werth's streak, he has 33 hits and 27 walks.

Turner gets on twice: Speaking of reaching base, Trea Turner singled and walked, and has now reached base at least twice in nine of his last 11 starts. He led off the bottom of the first with an infield single on a slow chopping groundball to Panik at second base. Turner then walked with one out in the third inning. Both times he did not advance. In the first inning he got caught stealing second base by Posey, who gunned him out with a perfect throw. Turner was originally called safe before a Giants challenge overturned the call. It was the first time in nine attempts this season that Turner was caught stealing.

Goodwin debuts: Over five years after he was a first round pick for the Nationals, outfielder Brian Goodwin made his MLB debut on Saturday night as a defensive replacement for Bryce Harper in the top of the seventh inning. Great for Goodwin, but Harper left due to a stiff neck. Read more on his injury here.

Up next: The Nationals and Giants close their head-to-head season series with a rubber match on Sunday. First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. with Tanner Roark (11-6, 3.02) set to face off with All-Star lefty Madison Bumgarner (10-6, 2.25).

[RELATED: Nats' Ross explains setback, hopes to throw soon]


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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?


Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.


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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine


Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

SAN DIEGO — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs after packages containing a white powder believed to be cocaine were found at a home he rented in Southern California, officials said Monday.

The 46-year-old former Major League Baseball player was booked Friday on charges involving the possession, transport and sale of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $500,000, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Loaiza played for numerous teams between 1995 and 2008, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and concluding with his second stint with the Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 record with the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and started in the All-Star Game that year.


He also played one season for the Washington Nationals in 2005 — the team's inaugural season in D.C. after the franchise changed from the Montreal Expos. During his one season in Washington, Loaiza finished with a 12-10 record adn a 3.77 ERA over 34 games played that year.

It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and the former player could not be reached to comment. He was being held Monday for lack of $200,000 bail pending a court appearance on Wednesday.

Loaiza's agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had no information about the arrest and that he has not spoken to Loaiza recently. He said that Loaiza had called his office early last week but Boggs was unavailable at the time.

"I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation," Boggs said in a text to the newspaper. "I don't know how he would get himself involved in this, so it's difficult to even comment on it."

Officers stopped Loaiza for a minor traffic infraction Friday after he left the home he started renting recently in the Pacific coast community of Imperial Beach, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities had the vehicle under surveillance on suspicion it was used for smuggling drugs.

When they searched the vehicle, they found a sophisticated compartment used to conceal contraband, authorities said. That led them to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza's rental home, where they found the packages of drugs, according to investigators.

The packages containing a white powder are still being tested but are believed to be cocaine, said San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Jason Vickery.

Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and was married for two years to the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She filed for divorce shortly before she died in a plane crash in 2012.

The 43-year-old Rivera was known as the "Diva de la Banda" and died as her career was peaking. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, sold more than 15 million records, and moved into acting and reality television.

Loaiza sued the aircraft's owners in 2014 for wrongful death but her relatives accused him of trying to profit from her death. He denied the accusations and later retracted his lawsuit.

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.