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Gio Gonzalez helps Nationals beat Marlins for eighth time in a row

Gio Gonzalez helps Nationals beat Marlins for eighth time in a row

MIAMI -- With Marlins Park more empty than usual, the menacing approach of Hurricane Irma made for an eerie atmosphere.

Even South Florida native Gio Gonzalez's rooting section was smaller than normal, but he was unfazed. The left-hander and four relievers combined on a six-hitter, and the Washington Nationals beat Miami for the eighth consecutive time, winning 8-1 Wednesday night.

Gonzalez (14-6) pitched five scoreless innings but needed 101 pitches. Ryan Zimmerman hit his 31st homer , and Michael A. Taylor added his 14th .


Announced attendance was 14,390, smallest of the year at Marlins Park for the second night in a row. With the area bracing for Irma, a head count at first pitch put the actual crowd size at 799.

"It's weird to get going in Miami knowing what's coming," Gonzalez said. "I was trying to take emotion out of the game, but it's tough. Too much going on."

Gonzalez said his wife and children were back in Washington, and his mother and brother were packed and ready to evacuate. Most of his usual contingent of family and friends skipped the game.

"You understand -- `I'd rather you guys be home preparing for what's coming,'" he said.

Taylor, also a South Florida native, was glad about the timing of the Nationals' visit.

"It has been a little hectic trying to get everything situated with my place and my family," he said. "But I'm kind of glad I'm here. It gives me a chance to help out a little bit before I leave."

The Nationals completed a three-game sweep and have outscored the Marlins 53-12 in their past eight meetings.

"That just means we were hot, and they were cold," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. His team increased its lead in the NL East to 18 games over second-place Miami.

Major league home run leader Giancarlo Stanton went 0 for 3, and he's 3 for 35 in the past 10 games. All three hits were homers, leaving him at 53 for the season.

The Marlins have lost nine of their past 10 games to fade from the NL wild-card race. They've scored five runs in the past four games.

"Ten days of this -- I wish I had an answer for it," manager Don Mattingly said. "I honestly don't."

Dillon Peters (0-1), who threw seven scoreless innings in his major league debut five days earlier, gave up three runs in five innings.

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


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.


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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery


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.