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Nationals get Scherzer ready for postseason, Braves score 7 off him

Nationals get Scherzer ready for postseason, Braves score 7 off him

WASHINGTON -- It was part of the Washington Nationals' plan to push Max Scherzer's pitch count deeper than usual on Wednesday.

The Atlanta Braves' plate discipline and timely hitting in the seventh inning wasn't in the script.

Dansby Swanson smacked a bases-loaded, go-ahead two-run single off Scherzer, Matt Kemp hit a grand slam two batters later and Atlanta beat Washington 8-2.

RELATED: SEE MOMENT NATS WIN NL EAST 

Atlanta scored six runs in the seventh, and five were charged to Scherzer (14-6), who walked the bases loaded and remained in the game despite having thrown 114 pitches. Swanson then hit a 1-0 pitch to left to make it 4-2.

"We were just able to string good at-bats together," Swanson said. "Good pitchers like that, it's hard to be able to do that. It kind of gets magnified when you are able to do it."

The Nationals intentionally walked Freddie Freeman before manager Dusty Baker went to the bullpen. Kemp then drilled Brandon Kintzler's first offering to left for his seventh career grand slam and first since 2011.

Scherzer finished with 116 pitches, his most since July 7.

"With an extra day coming up, I thought it would be a good idea to try to get me into the 110, 115, 120 pitch count range tonight," Scherzer said. "I thought that would benefit me going forward and then looking into the postseason, pitch with some extra fatigue."

Scherzer, who had not lost since June 21 and had won six decisions in a row, allowed seven runs over six-plus innings -- the most he has yielded since giving up seven to the Chicago Cubs on May 6, 2016. He walked six batters, his most in nearly five years.

Manager Dusty Baker said he was weighing the long-term benefits of stretching Scherzer out when he opted to leave him in. Washington clinched the NL East on Sunday, but has since dropped back-to-back games.

"That was the game plan before the night started," Baker said. "I know it looked ugly. It looked ugly to you, it looked ugly to us, and the fans and everybody else. But if you have a game plan, then you want to stick with it as much as and as long as you can."

In his second start since his call-up from Triple-A Gwinnett, Atlanta rookie Luiz Gohara (1-1) needed only 71 pitches to complete six innings and secure his first major league victory. He allowed six hits and two runs while striking out six.

"The kid gets locked in and really competes," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "That's what I heard about him, from the guys that played with him, had him, been around him. They say once he gets out there, he's trying to beat you. That's legit stuff there, too."

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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

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