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Nationals erase 2-0 deficit for 5-2 win over Miami

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Nationals erase 2-0 deficit for 5-2 win over Miami

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: For the third straight day, the Nationals dug themselves into a 2-0 hole against the Marlins after one inning. But for the second straight day, they managed to dig themselves back out of that hole and emerge victorious.

With a 3-run rally in the fifth that included a home run by Tyler Moore and clutch at-bats by Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond, the Nationals took the lead off Marlins starter Brad Hand. Then with a 2-run homer by Harper (his 41st of the season) in the seventh, they expanded that lead and gave their bullpen some cushion.

It looked like that relief corps might need the extra cushion after rookie Sammy Solis gave up two singles to open the eighth. But Blake Treinen bailed him out by inducing a double-play grounder and then striking out Derek Dietrich to quash that potential rally. Jonathan Papelbon gave up a couple of singles to open the ninth but bounced back from two straight blown saves to finish this one off.

And thanks to the Mets' loss earlier in the afternoon, the Nationals closed to within 7 games of the NL East leaders, with 14 to play.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Harper's seventh-inning homer will get the most attention, and it certainly deserves it. But his fifth-inning at-bat might've been more important. At the plate with the bases loaded, 1 out and the Nationals trailing by a run, he battled Hand through a 10-pitch showdown that included five foul balls with two strikes, multiple uses of the rosin bag and a new bat after the first one broke. Harper wound up sending a sacrifice fly to right, bringing home the tying run. No, it wasn't as glamorous as a home run into the second deck, but it was no less significant.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Things didn't look good for Zimmermann four batters in; he gave up three hits and found himself down 2-0 just like that. But the right-hander found his groove over the course of the afternoon and kept the Marlins from scoring again after that. He wound up retiring the last seven batters he faced, four of them via strikeout. With his pitch count at 95 after six innings, he probably could have remained in the game. But Matt Williams decided to send up pinch-hitter Matt den Dekker in his spot and turn to his bullpen the rest of the way.

KEY STAT: Over the last two seasons, Brad Hand is 0-6 with a 7.84 ERA in seven starts against the Nationals.

UP NEXT: The series wraps up at 1:35 p.m. Sunday when Stephen Strasburg (coming off a 14-strikeout start in Philadelphia) looks to stay hot against Marlins lefty Justin Nicolino.

RELATED: Scherzer's fiery exchange with Williams highlights extra-inning win

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE