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Nationals hold on to take down Phillies, magic number down to 3

Nationals hold on to take down Phillies, magic number down to 3

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Michael A. Taylor raced for an inside-the-park grand slam when center fielder Odubel Herrera misplayed his line drive, and the Washington Nationals moved closer to a second straight NL East title with an 11-10 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.

Herrera misread Taylor's hit off Jake Thompson (1-2) in the third inning, taking a few steps in before leaping as the ball soared over his head. Herrera chased the rolling ball down on the warning track and threw to the infield, but shortstop J.P. Crawford missed up the third-base line with his relay, allowing Taylor to slide home safely.

It was the first-inside-the-park grand slam in the majors since Philadelphia's Aaron Altherr on Sept. 25, 2015, at Washington.

Taylor's homer was the second inside-the-park grand slam in Montreal Expos/Nationals history. Bombo Rivera had one as an Expo on June 26, 1976, a home run that coincidentally scored current Phillies manager Pete Mackanin from second.

Taylor set a career high with five RBIs and matched a personal best with four hits. Trea Turner homered and drove in three, and Max Scherzer (14-5) allowed four runs over six innings.

Washington has won five straight and reduced its magic number for winning the division to three.

Maikel Franco's three-run homer off Shawn Kelley in the ninth pulled the Phillies within a run, but Sean Doolittle struck out all three hitters he faced for his 17th save in 17 tries with Washington.

Nick Williams and Rhys Hoskins also homered for Philadelphia, which has lost 21 of its last 27 games against Washington.

Scherzer struggled in the first inning, issuing back-to-back walks to Herrera and Hoskins and before Williams belted an 0-1 offering to right-center. But almost immediately, the Nationals chipped away at the deficit.

Ryan Zimmerman had an RBI single in the first and Turner added one in the second, and the Nationals loaded the bases on two walks and an error on a fielder's choice to set up Taylor's slam.

Scherzer allowed four runs for just the fourth time in 27 starts, but he struck out seven and improved to 6-0 over his last 13 outings.

Herrera's infield single in the seventh extended his hitting streak to 21 games, the longest in the majors this season.

Thompson allowed seven runs (five earned), seven hits and two walks in five innings.

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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