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Nats cruise to 9th straight win over Braves


Nats cruise to 9th straight win over Braves

There was a time, really not all that long ago, when any victory by the Nationals over the Braves was cause for celebration, something to be savored given how rare it was.

Not so much anymore. These days, anything other than a win over Atlanta is cause for concern, as if something must be wrong with the Nats.

With a 6-1 victory Tuesday night at Turner Field, the Nationals continued to flip the script that had brought about so much consternation the last few years. They’ve now beaten the Braves in nine straight games, a streak that began April 28 with a certain record-setting, come-from-behind, 13-12 victory capped by Dan Uggla’s towering home run.

Are the Braves a far different team now than they were in 2013 and early 2014, when they owned the Nationals? Sure. But they’re still a big-league club, and nine straight wins over any big-league club is a noteworthy accomplishment.

So is taking down one of the NL’s best pitchers the way the Nats took down Shelby Miller on Tuesday. The 24-year-old right-hander entered this start boasting a 1.94 ERA and an impressive run of consistency, having allowed two or fewer earned runs in 13 of his 15 starts to date.

The Nationals, of course, piled up five runs off Miller, the most he has surrendered this season. And they pounced on him early, scoring four runs in the top of the first.

How rare was that? Well, in 15 previous starts this season, Miller had given up a grand total of one first-inning run, with only three hits surrendered in 46 at-bats. Four of the Nationals’ first six batters on Tuesday recorded hits off him, with Denard Span and Danny Espinosa setting the tone and then Clint Robinson sealing the deal with a towering home run.

All of which made life easier on Jordan Zimmermann, who cruised and continues to look more and more like the dominant right-hander we’ve come to expect over the last few seasons

With 7 2/3 scoreless innings, Zimmermann continued his mastery of the Braves. His total pitching line over his last two starts (both against Atlanta): 15.2 IP, 12 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K.

Most impressive about Zimmermann’s latest outing: He threw strikes. A whole boatload of them. Zimmermann’s 85 strikes thrown Tuesday matched his career-high (set June 20, 2013 vs. the Rockies) and trailed only three pitchers in Nationals history: Livan Hernandez (93 strikes on July 31, 2005 vs. the Marlins), Esteban Loaiza (87 strikes on Sept. 4, 2005 vs. the Phillies) and Max Scherzer (86 strikes in his 1-hitter at Milwaukee two weeks ago).

So that’s no small accomplishment for Zimmermann, who lowered his ERA to 3.16, better than his career mark entering 2015.

Zimmermann’s lights-out performance extended the Nationals’ run of dominant starting pitching. The rotation now owns a 1.69 ERA over the last 10 games (nine of them wins). Throw out Tanner Roark’s rough outing Sunday in a spot start necessitated by the rainout in Philadelphia, and that ERA plummets to 0.68.

Is it any wonder the Nationals are enjoying every opportunity they have to face the Braves right now?

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.


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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.