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Nationals' momentum stalls in 6-4 loss to Marlins

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Nationals' momentum stalls in 6-4 loss to Marlins

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals opened their final homestand of the season with a bit of extra hop in their step, having picked up 2 games on the Mets the last two days to draw within 7 1/2 games of the NL East leaders. That positive momentum, though, came to a screeching halt once they faced the surprisingly pesky Marlins, who continue to be a thorn in this team's side.

Martin Prado and Justin Bour hit home runs off Tanner Roark, whose late-season struggles since rejoining the Nationals' rotation continued. That more than offset Ian Desmond's 2-run homer in the bottom of the second, the lone hit the Nats managed their first five innings against Jarred Cosart.

The offense finally came to life late, via an eighth-inning rally that included a 2-out, 2-run single by Desmond to cut the deficit to 6-4. Moments later, Michael Taylor stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, but the rookie center fielder struck out on three breaking balls from Marlins closer A.J. Ramos, brought in to record a 4-out save.

And so the Nationals' 4-game winning streak came to an end while their magic number for elimination dropped into single digits. They now trail the Mets by 8 games with 16 to play.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Desmond provided all of the Nationals' offense in this one. He launched a 2-run homer off the top of the left-field wall in the bottom of the second, his first homer in 18 games (though his 18th of the season). He nearly produced another clutch hit with two on and two out in the sixth but sent a flyball to the warning track in right to end that inning. Then with the bases loaded and two out in the eighth, Desmond worked the count full against Bryan Morris before lining a base hit up the middle, bringing home two more runs. It was Desmond's first 4-RBI game since August 18.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: For whatever reason, Roark simply hasn't been the same pitcher this year, especially when given an opportunity to start. He has now made nine starts in 2015, posting a hefty 5.66 ERA along the way. Among Roark's biggest problems: a penchant to surrender the long ball. He gave up two of them tonight: Prado's 2-run homer in the first, then Bour's 3-run homer in the fifth. All told, that's 14 home runs given up by Roark in 93 1/3 innings this season. Compare that to last season, when he gave up 16 homers in 198 2/3 innings, and you start to see what the difference has been for the right-hander.

KEY STAT: The Marlins have gone 6-3 against the Nationals and Mets this month.

UP NEXT: The Nationals will have to go up against ace Jose Fernandez (5-0, 2.06) on Friday night. Max Scherzer (12-11, 2.91) will need to be in top form against Miami's lineup.

MORE NATIONALS: Storen explains self-inflicted injury, his hope to bounce back

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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.

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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