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Instant analysis: Braves 11, Nats 10

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Instant analysis: Braves 11, Nats 10

Game in a nutshell: In the latest installment of "The Biggest Series in Nationals history," the locals got off to a brilliant start they couldn't have scripted any better. Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman launched three-run homers and Steve Lombardozzi added a two-run double that gave the Nats an insurmountable 9-0 lead after five innings, with Stephen Strasburg cruising along on his 24th birthday. Chalk up a huge victory for the Nats ... er, maybe not. Strasburg gave up four runs in the sixth before getting yanked. Drew Storen and Sean Burnett made a mess of the eighth inning, combining to surrender four more runs and give the Braves life. And the Tyler Clippard finished off the meltdown by giving up a two-run triple to Michael Bourn in the top of the ninth that completed the Braves' stunning, 10-run rally. It was the largest blown lead in franchise history, and it left everyone inside Nationals Park stunned and dejected ... er, maybe not.

Danny Espinosa crushed a 1-0 pitch from Craig Kimbrel into the left-field bullpen to bring the Nats back from the dead and force extra innings. But the Braves never let up and pushed across the winning run in the 11th when Zimmerman followed a fantastic pick at third base with a terrible throw to first base and Ian Desmond couldn't make an incredible, over-the-shoulder catch of Paul Janish's blooper. The Nats went down in the bottom of the 11th and wound up suffering a crushing defeat after all.

Hitting highlight: Which three-run blast should we pick: Morse's first-inning bomb or Zimmerman's fourth-inning jack? Let's just talk about both. Morse's was something to behold, a 465-foot moonshot that struck the railing behind the picnic benches in the Red Porch. According to ESPN's Hit Tracker, it was the longest home run in Nationals Park history. Zimmerman's homer wasn't quite as titanic, but it did produce the night's loudest explosion from the crowd of 34,228. And it was merely the latest in a string of big hits from the third baseman, who since receiving his much-ballyhooed cortisone shot on June 24 has nine homers, 25 RBI, a .368 batting average and a .782 slugging percentage.

Pitching lowlight: Take your pick of late-inning relievers. Storen didn't retire either of the two batters he faced in the eighth. Burnett then walked two batters in a row, one with the bases loaded, and gave up a pair of RBI singles. But the biggest meltdown came from Clippard in the ninth. He walked Uggla to start things off, uncorked a wild pitch and then plunked the .118-hitting Janish in the back. That set the stage for Bourn's game-changing triple off the top of the right-field fence. It was Clippard's fourth straight shaky outing, and it's got to leave the Nationals deeply concerned.

Key stat: With an 0-for-5 showing, Bryce Harper saw his batting average fall to .269. That's the lowest it's been since May 25.

Up next: It's going to be a beautiful Saturday in the nation's capital ... so let's play two! Yep, we'll have a day-night doubleheader between the Nats and Braves. Edwin Jackson faces Ben Sheets in the 1:05 p.m. opener, then John Lannan makes his season debut against Randall Delgado in the 7:05 p.m. nightcap.

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

WASHINGTON  -- The Nationals have agreed to a $7 million, two-year contract with outfielder Howie Kendrick, a deal subject to a successful physical.

Agent Pat Murphy confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on Monday. USA Today was first to report the deal.

Kendrick, 34, hit .293 with seven home runs and RBIs in 52 games with Washington after he was acquired from Philadelphia. The versatile right-handed hitter got just three plate appearances off the bench in the playoffs.

In 12 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Dodgers, Phillies and Nationals, Kendrick is a .291 hitter with a .755 OPS. He's now primarily an outfielder for Washington after playing left field, second base, first base and other positions throughout his career.

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See hilarious highlights from Nats' Racing Presidents tryouts

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USA Today Sports Images

See hilarious highlights from Nats' Racing Presidents tryouts

Ever wonder how you can become one of the Washington Nationals' Racing Presidents or what it takes to get the job?

The team recently detailed the requirements and held tryouts on Sunday for the next group of presidents to carry on the 12-season tradition.

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While the basic requirements are pretty standard — be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, etc. — the specifics are quite unusual compared with a typical job. Among them, presidential candidates need to be at least 5-foot-7 but no taller than 6-foot-6 and able to run from centerfield to first base in a 50-pound costume. Needless to say, those who were invited to try out had to be in pretty good physical shape.

So in bitter cold temperatures, participants raced against each other in a 40-yard dash with the 50-pound costume on. They also danced.

Here are some of the highlights from Sunday’s Racing Presidents tryouts.

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