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Instant analysis: Braves 4, Nats 0

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Instant analysis: Braves 4, Nats 0

Game in a nutshell: Only 13 12 hours removed from a crushing, 11-10 loss, the Nationals took the field for the first half of their day-night doubleheader with the Braves needing a strong performance from starter Edwin Jackson. They got it, with Jackson tossing seven innings of one-run ball, Brian McCann's solo homer in the second the only blemish. But Ben Sheets was even better for Atlanta, tossing six scoreless innings in his second big-league start since 2010. Another Henry Rodriguez meltdown resulted in an insurance run in the eighth. And then Chipper Jones' towering, pinch-hit blast in the ninth put the Nationals in a 4-0 hole they could not escape. Just like that, their lead in the NL East is down to 1 12 games, with John Lannan now asked to reverse the trend in the upcoming nightcap. Oh, and Bryce Harper had to leave this game after fouling a bunt attempt off his left ankle in the first inning. Suffice it to say, this wasn't a good afternoon.

Hitting lowlight: It's not that the Nationals didn't have chances against Sheets or the Braves bullpen. It's that they couldn't come through with any hits in clutch situations. They were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position over the first six innings. Then when presented with a possible opportunity in the seventh when the score was still only 1-0, Jesus Flores popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt and then watched as Kris Medlen snagged it and whipped a throw to first base to double up Danny Espinosa in a crushing moment. For a lineup that has been raking at the plate for about three weeks now, this was a weak performance.

Pitching highlight: On a day the Nationals desperately needed him to put forth a quality start, Jackson delivered. The right-hander allowed one run in seven innings, matching his season-high with nine strikeouts and most importantly churning out enough innings to give the Nats' bullpen a much-needed breather. Jackson's only mistake: his 0-1 pitch to McCann in the top of the second, which wound up in the right-field bleachers. But you can't fault him for his overall performance. Jackson didn't just pitch well, he pitched well on a day he absolutely needed to do it.

Key stat: Sheets, who hadn't pitched in the big leagues since 2010, has now thrown 12 scoreless innings for the Braves.

Up next: This long day of baseball isn't over yet. John Lannan takes the mound at 7:05 p.m. to make his first big-league start of the season, with right-hander Randall Delgado pitching for the Braves in the nightcap of this doubleheader. And then the Wallflowers will take the field to perform tonight's concert.

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Nats give up monster HR, drop series-opener with Giants

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USA TODAY Sports

Nats give up monster HR, drop series-opener with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO  -- Mac Williamson hit a two-run homer in the sixth to lead the Giants past the Washington Nationals 4-2 on Monday night.

Chris Stratton (2-1) struck out five over 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and four hits.

Williamson, playing his first home game at AT&T Park this season after being called up during the recent road trip, connected with a deep drive to right-center off Shawn Kelley after he relieved starter Gio Gonzalez (2-2). Gonzalez walked Brandon Belt to end his day before Williamson crushed the first pitch he saw from Kelley.

The 464-foot shot by Williamson is the furthest homer by the Giants this year, topping his previous 434-foot homer Friday after he was promoted to face the Angels in Anaheim. Earlier Monday, Williamson drove in his team's initial run on a fielder's choice in the fourth.

Only three home runs have travelled further in 2018, according to MLB StatCast: Franchy Cordero (489), Avisail Garcia (481) and Marcell Ozuna (479)

San Francisco kicked off a 10-game homestand by winning back-to-back games for only the second time this season and first since April 4-7. The Giants were coming off their first series victory of the season against the Angels.

The Nationals' runs came on a pair of sacrifice flies, by Howie Kendrick in the third and pinch-hitter Andrew Stevenson in the seventh.

Gonzalez allowed three runs and four hits, struck out four and walked three in five innings.

In his only other start against Washington, Stratton threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts last Aug. 13.

Hunter Strickland, who brawled with Bryce Harper during Washington's last visit to AT&T Park in late May 2017, finished for his fourth save in six chances. Harper didn't bat in the ninth.

NATS TRADE COLE

Washington traded right-hander A.J. Cole to the New York Yankees for cash. The 26-year-old Cole was 1-1 with a 13.06 ERA in four games for the Nationals and was designated for assignment last week.

BAKER REUNION

Ex-Nationals manager Dusty Baker, who guided Washington to back-to-back NL East titles before his firing after last season, visited the ballpark to see his former club.

Did he plan the visit in advance?

"Maybe," Baker said, grinning.

Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg hustled out to give Baker a big hug behind the batting cage.

"What's up Dusty, how you doing?" Strasburg said.

Baker also visited with third base coach Bob Henley, the loan holdover from his coaching staff.

Baker is now working in an advisory role to Giants CEO Larry Baer while getting to watch son, Darren, play his freshman college season at California in Berkeley.

"I am good," Baker said. "How bad can it be between Cal, San Francisco and Sacramento?"

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: OF Adam Eaton, on the disabled list retroactive to April 9 with a bone bruise in his left ankle, won't be rushed back until he is completely pain-free. "When you see him in the lineup he'll be ready," manager Dave Martinez said. "He's coming along. When we get him back this time we don't want any issues." ... OF Brian Goodwin remains in Florida with pain in his bruised left wrist.

Giants: LHP Will Smith is eagerly anticipating his return from Tommy John surgery that cost him all of last season, and he could come off the DL as soon as Tuesday. He pitched twice for Class-A San Jose and three times so far for Triple-A Sacramento. He is scheduled to throw consecutive days for Sacramento on Wednesday and Thursday then another short outing Sunday. "We're close. We're getting there," Smith said, noting it will be "awesome. I'm ready to go." ... RHP closer Mark Melancon (flexor strain in pitching elbow) is scheduled to play catch during Thursday's off day. There is no timetable for his return, manager Bruce Bochy said. ... LF Hunter Pence (sprained right thumb) did some hitting and is scheduled for early batting practice Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Giants lefty Ty Blach (1-3, 4.10 ERA) will face the Nationals for the first time in his career when he pitches the middle game of the series opposite right-hander Tanner Roark (1-1, 3.24).

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Bryce Harper, broken bats, and bobbleheads: a true trifecta

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Bryce Harper, broken bats, and bobbleheads: a true trifecta

Bryce Harper can do no wrong.

Last week in a win over the New York Mets, Bryce Harper, in super-human fashion, managed to shatter his bat while still hitting a home run.

It was as incredible as you think it is. Click the link in the line above here if you don't believe us. 

In what was already a one-of-one scenario, the cherry on top has been officially added: a Bryce Harper, broken-bat bobblehead.

The company that will be producing the legendary figurines is Sports Fan Island, who have gotten the bobbleheads licensed through both the MLB and the MLBPA.

The details on the bobblehead speak for themselves, from the intricacy of the broken bat, to the flames surrounding home plate under Harper.  

Despite the fact that the bobbleheads don't officially ship until July, fans can begin to pre-order this piece of historic memorabilia for $39.99, so you may want to grab them while they're still hot. 

RELATED: 2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS- APRIL UPDATE