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Instant analysis: Cardinals 4, Nats 3

Instant analysis: Cardinals 4, Nats 3

Game in a nutshell: Stephen Strasburg started the game strong with six shutout innings, but a rocky seventh by Sean Burnett let the Cardinals back in the game. The Nats were able to respond in the next inning with a two-run rally and take the lead. Kurt Suzuki had a big day with a solo home run in the fourth and an RBI single in the sixth. Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa batted in the seventh inning runs to get the Nats ahead for good. The Cardinals scored a run in the 8th on a Tony Cruz double, but Mattheus got out of the eighth and Tyler Clippard held on in the ninth for the win. It was the 81st win of the season for the Nats which ties their most in a season since moving to Washington, D.C.

Hitting highlight: Suzuki had an all-around great day at the plate and in the field. His fourth inning homer was a crisp line drive that landed in the first row of seats in left field. He then batted home Desmond in the sixth on a single, accounting for each of the Nats first two runs. He also made a nice defensive play earlier in the fourth on a throw home by Bryce Harper. Harpers throw was well in time, but Suzuki needed to step away from the plate for the scoop and make a nice turn to spot the tag.

Pitching highlight: Strasburg had a few long innings due to mistakes by the defense behind him, but throughout the game he was quite sharp. He went six innings and struck out nine, allowed just two hits and one walk. It came after his worst start of the season in Miami and showed his resilience to bounce back. An eight-pitch third inning was huge for the Nats ace after 40 throws through the first two frames.

Key stat: Stephen Strasburg has 195 strikeouts on the season through 156.1 innings pitched. He wont get many more with just one or two starts left, but to hit the 200 mark as he likely will is remarkable in a shortened season.

Up next: The Chicago Cubs (51-81) come to town to face Ross Detwiler and the Nats. The Labor Day game starts at 1:05 p.m. and is the first of another four-game series.

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager

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.

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.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER THANKS NATIONALS' FANS FOR SUPPORT

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Bryce Harper thanks Nationals fans for support during 2017 season

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USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper thanks Nationals fans for support during 2017 season

It's been a week since the air was sucked out of D.C. in the Nationals Game 5, 9-8 loss to the Chicago Cubs. 

And now that we've had a few days to decompress from another early D.C. playoff exit, Nats right fielder Bryce Harper decided to take some time to thank fans for their support this season.

Harper posted an Instagram video Wednesday afternoon, with a fresh cut, and thanked fans for continuing to pack Nats Park. In the video he says he looks forward to "chasing that championship" again next spring. 

The 2017 season could be described as a rough one for Harper after missing the last few weeks of the season with a bone bruise in his left knee. 

Harper had a .319 average during the 2017 season, along with 29 home runs, 97 RBI's, 95 runs scored and 4 stolen bases. He is entering the final year of his contract.

RELATED: 20 THINGS SAD D.C. SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT

National Fans. Thank you!💯 #RedLightRecording

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bharper3407) on