Game in a nutshell: With a chance to pull off a rousing series sweep and extend their lead over the Braves to a commanding eight games, the Nationals were silenced by the unheralded Kris Medlen. The right-hander, who has pitched brilliantly since moving into the rotation, tossed seven scoreless innings, out-dueling Ross Detwiler, who faded quickly after a strong start to his evening. Ultimately, a lack of clutch hitting and some very shaky defense -- Bryce Harper took a bad route on a two-run double, and Ryan Zimmerman and Kurt Suzuki each committed errors during an ugly top of the ninth -- did in the Nationals. They didn't sweep the series, but they still took two of three and still hold a six-game advantage on the only team still challenging them in the NL East.
Hitting lowlight: How bad is Harper struggling at the plate? Really bad. After wearing a Golden Sombrero Tuesday night, he looked silly again in his first three plate appearances tonight. How you can tell Harper is lost at the plate: He's taking first-pitch fastballs for strikes, then swinging at breaking balls out of the zone. The rookie did redeem himself in the eighth, knocking Eric O'Flaherty's pitch into left field and then hustling into second base. But the way he's going right now, especially against left-handers, you have to wonder if Harper might be looking at some more bench time moving forward.
Pitching highlight: They say there's no better pitch in baseball than a well-placed fastball, and Detwiler proved that theory correct through the first three innings of this start. Relying almost 100 percent on his heater, the lefty retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced and looked ready to cruise through the start. But a two-out, four-pitch walk of the opposing pitcher seemed to unnerve Detwiler; he wasn't the same after that. Martin Prado drilled a two-run double to deep center (after Harper took a bad jump) to put the Braves ahead. A couple more hits surrendered in the sixth ended Detwiler's night much sooner than anyone would have expected only a few innings earlier.
Key stat: On June 3, all five teams in the NL East were separated by only 3 12 games. When play began today, the Mets, Phillies and Marlins were all 20 games back, with the Braves seven games back.
Up next: After a day off, the Nationals head north to Philadelphia for a weekend series with the fading Phillies. Edwin Jackson takes on Kyle Kendrick in Friday's 7:05 p.m. opener at Citizens Bank Park.