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Nats-Mets instant analysis

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Nats-Mets instant analysis

Game in a nutshell: After a marathon game last night, the Nationals hoped to get both a productive start out of Edwin Jackson and some early run support to make manager Davey Johnson's job a little easier in the later innings. They got both. Slumping Adam LaRoche started things off with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first. Michael Morse added two more opposite-field hits, the second of them driving in his first run of the season. And Jackson did his part, overcoming his own throwing error to churn out seven quality innings. And unlike last night, the back end of the Nationals' bullpen took care of business and closed this one out without the need for any antacid. Tyler Clippard's fifth save since taking over pseudo-closer duties ensured the Nats' second straight win over the Mets and extended their lead in the NL East to two games.

Hitting highlight: Throughout his three-week slump (during which he went 6-for-55 and saw his batting average drop nearly 70 points) LaRoche insisted he wouldn't panic. He'd been through much longer slumps before, and he felt he'd learned how best to overcome them: By resisting the urge to try to change something. It's only one game, but whatever he did tonight certainly worked. With his three-run homer in the first, LaRoche gave the Nationals an early lead. He later added a single in the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Put it all together, and the veteran first baseman had his best game in quite some time ... and perhaps started off another prolonged hot streak at the plate.

Pitching highlight: Jackson's stuff was dominant right from the outset, as evidenced by his two strikeouts to open the game. And he only surrendered three hits over seven innings. The right-hander still could have used some refinement, though. Two of the Mets' three runs scored as a direct result of self-inflicted wounds: A leadoff walk issued to New York's No. 8 hitter in the third, and then a two-base error on an errant pickoff throw in the fourth. All things considered, though, Jackson turned in a quality start and gave the Nationals exactly what they needed: seven strong innings after having used up their entire bullpen last night.

Key stat: With one swing in the bottom of the first inning (and then one more swing in the bottom of the seventh), LaRoche recorded twice as many RBI (4) as he had notched in his previous nine games combined (2).

Up next: The two teams will have a quick turnaround for Thursday's series finale. Chien-Ming Wang faces knuckleballer R.A. Dickey at 1:05 p.m. at Nationals Park.

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

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.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

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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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.

RELATED: HARPER THANKS FANS FOR SUPPORT