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Nats topple Phillies in extras

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Nats topple Phillies in extras

Nationals 4, Phillies 3 11 innings

Game in a nutshell: In an emotionally charged ballpark tilted more in the Nationals' favor than usual when these two rivals meet, Stephen Strasburg got off to a dominant start but then did the unthinkable and served up home runs to both Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz. Strasburg's teammates picked him, pushing across a run in the sixth and another in the eighth. But countless squandered opportunities (and some questionable umpiring) prevented them from taking the lead and sent this one to extra innings. Finally, Wilson Ramos (the last man off the bench) lined a bases-loaded single over shortstop Jimmy Rollins' head, bringing Steve Lombardozzi home and sending the crowd into pandemonium.

Hitting lowlight: It's not that the Nationals didn't put men on base. They racked up 13 hits, walked seven times and had one batter hit by pitch. But they simply could not come through in clutch situations ... until the 11th. The worst offense came in the bottom of the eighth, when they stranded the bases loaded with one out. Ian Desmond swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded into a fielder's choice (though replays showed Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz's foot wasn't touching the plate as Rick Ankiel slid across). Lombardozzi then grounded out, also on the first pitch he saw. Poor approaches there for both guys in a situation that demanded patience and pitch selection.
Pitching lowlight: Strasburg was lights-out for three innings, allowing only one batter to reach base (on an error). Then after doubling and having to run the bases, he began to labor. Five Phillies hitters from the fourth through the sixth innings drilled flyballs, most of them deep, two of them clearing the fence. It was by no means a terrible outing for Strasburg (who still got credit for a quality start). But by his lofty standards, it was not up to par.

Key stat: Prior to tonight, Strasburg had given up only one home run to a right-handed batter in his big-league career (Dan Uggla, Aug. 10, 2010). Then he gave up homers to two right-handed Phillies in a span of four batters (Pence and Ruiz).
Up next: In what is expected to be the best-drawing game of the weekend, Gio Gonzalez takes on Vance Worley at 1:05 p.m. Saturday.

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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