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Lopez strikes out 11, Werth extends streak in Nats' win over Braves

Lopez strikes out 11, Werth extends streak in Nats' win over Braves

ATLANTA (AP) -- Rookie Reynaldo Lopez beat the Atlanta Braves five days ago, so he knew they would likely struggle against his fastball again.

"At the beginning I felt like a caged animal," he said. "I just wanted to get out there and be very aggressive."

Lopez struck out 11, Jayson Werth reached safely in his 46th straight game and the Washington Nationals pulled away from the Braves 8-2 on Thursday night.

Werth hit an RBI double in the fifth inning to tie Rusty Staub on the Nationals-Expos franchise list for the longest streak of reaching base. Werth went 2 for 4 and has 43 hits and 32 walks during his string, the best in the majors this season.

After rain delayed the start for 1 hour, 16 minutes, Lopez (2-1) struck out eight of the first nine batters. He had 10 whiffs through his first 4 2-3 innings.

Lopez set a career high for strikeouts and allowed one earned run and four hits in seven innings. He added some maturity by laboring in the seventh and getting out of a jam.

"Sometimes you've got to let them grow up," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "You can't always recuse them. But he's a calm young man. He made the pitches when he had to and he's getting better and better."

The Nationals broke it open with five runs in the eighth. They are 30-10 against the Braves since June 21, 2014.

Rob Whalen (1-2) allowed three hits and one earned run in a career-best six innings.

Washington took a 2-0 lead in the first on a two-base error by left fielder Matt Kemp, who dropped Anthony Rendon's fly ball on the warning track to let two runs in.

"I just dropped the ball. Unacceptable," Kemp said. "It changed the mode of the game right there. Robbie pitched a great game. I didn't help him out by dropping that ball."

The Braves made it 2-1 in the fourth on Nick Markakis' sacrifice fly. Kemp's RBI groundout cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth.

Atlanta has been outscored 54-25 in its last seven games.

Werth's streak is the longest in the majors since Cincinnati's Joey Votto reached safely in 48 straight games last year.

SECOND NIGHT IN THE SHOW

Atlanta SS Dansby Swanson went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his second major league game. Swanson, the No. 1 overall draft pick of 2015, went 2 for 4 in Tuesday's 10-3 loss to Minnesota.

HAPPY AND HEALTHY

Braves ace Julio Teheran is ready to return from the 15-day DL and start Friday. He's been sidelined since July 31 with strained lat, but is in good spirits after his son Jordan was born Tuesday.

"I've got another motivation to play," the two-time All-Star said. "They just got home today before I got here. It's good."

ROSTER MOVES

Nationals: Recalled RHP A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse to work from the bullpen. OF Brian Goodwin was optioned to the same affiliate.

Braves: RHP Arodys Vizcaino, activated from the DL after missing 30 games with a right oblique strain, faced four batters to begin the eighth. He gave up one hit, four runs and walked two. Interim manager Brian Snitker said before the game that Vizcaino won't immediately reclaim the closer's role. Jim Johnson has the job for now. ... RHP Jason Hursh was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett.

ROUGH PATCH

Atlanta's bullpen had an NL-best 2.49 ERA in August before allowing 15 earned runs in its last 8 1-3 innings. Braves relievers began the night with a 4.69 ERA, second-worst in the majors.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Baker said "there's a good chance" that 1B Ryan Zimmerman (bruised left wrist) and backup C Jose Lobaton (left elbow tendinitis) will be activated from the DL Friday.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Tanner Roark (13-6) is 5-1 with a 1.73 ERA in nine career starts and five relief appearances against Atlanta.

Braves: Teheran (3-9) is 3-3 with a 3.91 ERA in 13 career starts against Washington.

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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?

RELATED: 2018 SPRING TRAINING REPORT DATES

Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.

RELATED: FORMER NATS PITCHER ARRESTED WITH MORE THAN 40 POUNDS OF SUSPECTED COCAINE

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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

SAN DIEGO — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs after packages containing a white powder believed to be cocaine were found at a home he rented in Southern California, officials said Monday.

The 46-year-old former Major League Baseball player was booked Friday on charges involving the possession, transport and sale of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $500,000, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Loaiza played for numerous teams between 1995 and 2008, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and concluding with his second stint with the Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 record with the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and started in the All-Star Game that year.

RELATED: NATS REVEAL 2018 SPRING TRAINING TV SCHEDULE

He also played one season for the Washington Nationals in 2005 — the team's inaugural season in D.C. after the franchise changed from the Montreal Expos. During his one season in Washington, Loaiza finished with a 12-10 record adn a 3.77 ERA over 34 games played that year.

It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and the former player could not be reached to comment. He was being held Monday for lack of $200,000 bail pending a court appearance on Wednesday.

Loaiza's agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had no information about the arrest and that he has not spoken to Loaiza recently. He said that Loaiza had called his office early last week but Boggs was unavailable at the time.

"I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation," Boggs said in a text to the newspaper. "I don't know how he would get himself involved in this, so it's difficult to even comment on it."

Officers stopped Loaiza for a minor traffic infraction Friday after he left the home he started renting recently in the Pacific coast community of Imperial Beach, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities had the vehicle under surveillance on suspicion it was used for smuggling drugs.

When they searched the vehicle, they found a sophisticated compartment used to conceal contraband, authorities said. That led them to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza's rental home, where they found the packages of drugs, according to investigators.

The packages containing a white powder are still being tested but are believed to be cocaine, said San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Jason Vickery.

Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and was married for two years to the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She filed for divorce shortly before she died in a plane crash in 2012.

The 43-year-old Rivera was known as the "Diva de la Banda" and died as her career was peaking. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, sold more than 15 million records, and moved into acting and reality television.

Loaiza sued the aircraft's owners in 2014 for wrongful death but her relatives accused him of trying to profit from her death. He denied the accusations and later retracted his lawsuit.

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.

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