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On Harper's blasts and Nats' new-look pen


On Harper's blasts and Nats' new-look pen

Some thoughts about the Nationals' 7-2 victory Wednesday night in Miami while watching the Mets-Brewers non-trade saga take one bizarre turn after another...

— If you were worried Bryce Harper was in a funk at the plate, don't be. No, he hadn't homered since July 18 off Kenley Jansen, but it's not like he had been completely stymied, either. In fact, Harper entered play Wednesday riding a 6-game hitting streak, having successfully reached base in 24 consecutive games.

All Harper really needed to get himself all the way back on track was a date with Tom Koehler, his favorite opposing pitcher in the world. Even before the two met Wednesday at Marlins Park, Harper already was 3-for-5 in his career against Koehler, with all three hits being home runs launched earlier this season at Nationals Park.

So, naturally, Harper did to Koehler yet again. His new, updated career stats against the right-hander: 5-for-8 with four homers. And that's before he got to face Sam Dyson later in the game and launch his second homer of the evening, this one a moonshot way into the second deck down the right-field line.

Just like that, Harper's power stroke has returned. He now has 29 homers in 93 games played (99 games for the club as a whole). If he can just get a few more at-bats against Koehler...

— He wasn't perfect, but Doug Fister was the best we've seen him in more than three weeks, holding the Marlins to to runs and four hits in six innings. Fister still gave up some hard-hit balls early on, with a bunch of outs recorded in the air and not on the ground. But as the night progressed, his sinker began to sink a bit more, leading to more groundball outs. He also struck out four batters in six innings, which is a good number by his typical standards.

Fister still has a ways to go to recapture his form from 2014. But this was an encouraging step in that direction...

Jonathan Papelbon joined his new club, though he wasn't needed to take the mound because of the 5-run victory. Still, we got a taste of what the reconfigured Nationals bullpen might look like when it matters most. And it's hard not to like what you saw.

Casey Janssen tossed a 1-2-3 seventh inning. That's seven consecutive scoreless appearances for the veteran right-hander, with a grand total of two runners reaching base against him along the way. Drew Storen then made a nice statement about how he intends to deal with his bumping from closer to setup man by retiring the side in the eighth, striking out two.

Let's see how this all plays out, but it certainly could wind up with Janssen becoming the go-to guy in the seventh, Storen in the eighth and Papelbon in the ninth. And that's not a bad thing. Collectively, those three experienced relievers have 527 major-league saves to their record.

If everyone is willing to embrace his role, this might just have a chance of working out quite well...

— What in the world is going on with the Mets right now? By all accounts, they made a major trade for Carlos Gomez on Wednesday evening, sending injured right-hander Zack Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee in return. Gomez was informed of the deal on the Brewers' team charter and took a selfie with teammates who expressed their admiration for the now-departing center fielder. Flores heard during the Mets' game against the Padres that he was being traded but was left to keep taking the field and stepping up to bat despite moments of genuine crying while at his shortstop position.

And then the whole thing fell apart. Depending on who you believe, either the Brewers nixed the trade because of concerns about Wheeler's rehabbing elbow, or the Mets called it off after reviewing medical info on Gomez's hip.

Whatever the case, the trade never happened. And it doesn't appear it will happen before Friday afternoon's deadline. Just another day in the long, bizarre history of the New York Metropolitans.

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Turner, Adams power Nats over Giants to end 4-game skid

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Turner, Adams power Nats over Giants to end 4-game skid

SAN FRANCISCO -- Trea Turner got five hits, Matt Adams homered and drove in six runs, and the Washington Nationals broke out of their offensive funk in a big way, routing the San Francisco Giants 15-2 Wednesday to end a four-game losing streak.

The Nationals had totaled just eight runs during their skid. Andrew Stevenson had two doubles, two singles and four RBIs as Washington set season highs for runs and hits (18).

Manager Dave Martinez's ballclub has been stunted by a rash of injuries this season but salvaged the final game of the three-game series at AT&T Park series to end a rough 4-5 road trip. Max Scherzer (5-1) did his part, striking out 10 in six innings.

Turner came into the game batting .232, and the leadoff man's slow start had contributed to the Nationals' struggles. He raised his batting average 35 points, tying a career high for hits in a game. He also scored twice, drove in two runs and stole his 10th base this season.

Adams matched his career best for RBIs. He singled as part of a three-run first, put the Nationals up 6-1 with a three-run homer off Jeff Samardzija (1-1) in the fourth and added a two-run single in the eighth.

The Nationals scored 14 of their 15 runs with two outs.

Scherzer earned his fourth consecutive win, all of them coming after a Washington loss. He allowed two runs and five hits, and reached double figures in strikeouts for the fourth time in six starts this season.

Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval each two hits apiece for the Giants.

Samardzija labored through a 30-pitch first inning and was done after retiring 11 batters. He gave up six runs on eight hits with three walks.


Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman and 2B Howie Kendrick were given the day off.

Giants: Mac Williamson was a late scratch because of neck stiffness, one day after stumbling over the bullpen pitching mound and crashing into a low fence while chasing a foul ball. ... RHP Chris Stratton was placed on the paternity list. ... RHP Roberto Gomez was called up from Triple-A Sacramento.


Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (2-2, 2.97 ERA) pitches against the Diamondbacks on Friday in Washington. He has yielded six earned runs and three homers over his last 13 innings.

Giants: LHP Derek Holland (0-3, 4.98) faces the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener of a four-game series at AT&T Park on Friday night. Holland is winless in two career starts against the Dodgers.

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Williamson homers again, Giants top Nationals 4-3


Williamson homers again, Giants top Nationals 4-3

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mac Williamson had to dust himself off after crashing into a low padded wall near the stands in left field while chasing a foul ball.

More frustrated than hurt, Williamson took it out on Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark a few moments later after undergoing a series of concussion tests in the dugout.

Williamson homered for the second straight night and third in five games, hitting a tiebreaking shot in the sixth inning to lead San Francisco to a 4-3 victory over Washington on Tuesday night.

"I got pretty lucky," Williamson said. "I felt fine then and I feel fine now. I'm sure once the adrenalin wears off later tonight, tomorrow we'll see how the body feels. I'm sure I'll be a little sore."

Brandon Belt hit his fifth home run in six games, Joe Panik added three hits and scored twice, and the Giants won their third straight and fourth in the last five.

One night after hitting a 464-foot homer in the series opener, Williamson hit a first-pitch solo shot to center off Roark with two outs in the sixth inning that bounced off the top of the wall and broke a 3-all tie. It wasn't as far as Monday's clout -- this one went 423 feet -- but was just as pivotal for the Giants.

"We've talked about what a shot in the arm he's been and he's more than that," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He came through again tonight. Good for him because he's worked hard at it."

Williamson's deciding home run came one inning after he stumbled over the bullpen mound in foul territory and crashed into a low wall near the stands while trying to chase down Bryce Harper's foul ball. Williamson stayed down briefly as team trainers rushed out before getting to his feet.

"I tried to roll my neck a little bit and my head down a little bit when I started going down," Williamson said. "I think that helped break my fall. I was just a little frustrated I didn't come up with the play. I had it in my glove and it came out."

Belt hit a two-run shot off Roark (1-2) in the third.

Michael Taylor had a three-run homer for Washington, which has lost four straight and 14 of 20 since opening the season 4-0.

"It seems like that sixth inning's been biting us in the rear as of late," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We're swinging the bats. We just can't get the big hit with people on base."

Reyes Moronta (1-0) retired six batters for his first career win. Sam Dyson pitched one inning and Hunter Strickland worked the ninth for his fifth save.

The Giants got a run off Roark in the first but left the bases loaded when Evan Longoria struck out looking to end the inning. Belt homered on a 3-2 pitch from Roark in the second to make it 3-0.

Washington tied it on Taylor's three-run homer off starter Ty Blach in the third. Ryan Zimmerman walked and Moises Sierra singled before Taylor's deep drive into the right-field stands.

Roark went into the game 6-0 in seven career games against San Francisco but couldn't find a rhythm this time. He allowed four runs on six hits, walked two and hit a batter and threw a pair of wild pitches.


Panik hit a soft comebacker to Roark in the fifth that glanced off the pitcher's glove then bounced up on the top of his cap before falling to the turf. Roark initially couldn't locate the ball but found it in time to throw to first for the out.


Blach allowed three runs and four hits in five innings. After the game, Bochy said the left-hander suffered from food poisoning last week and was given an IV on Monday. "That was a really gutty effort that he gave us," Bochy said.


Nationals: Placed RHP Shawn Kelley on the 10-disabled list with ulnar nerve irritation in his right elbow. Infielder/outfielder Matt Reynolds was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse and outfielder Rafael Bautista and infielder Adrian Sanchez were called up.


Nationals RHP Max Scherzer (4-1, 1.36 ERA) and Giants RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 0.00) take to the mound for the series finale at AT&T Park on Wednesday. Samardzija is making his second start after beginning the season on the disabled list.