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Ryan Zimmerman breaks franchise record against Marlins

Ryan Zimmerman breaks franchise record against Marlins

WASHINGTON -- Gio Gonzalez went from changing diapers to fooling the Marlins with his changeup once again while Ryan Zimmerman continued re-writing the Nationals record book.

Zimmerman had four run-scoring hits, including two solo home runs, drove in five runs, received two curtain calls and became the franchise's all-time RBI leader as the Washington Nationals defeated the Miami Marlins 10-1 on Wednesday night.

MORE NATS: RYAN ZIMMERMAN BREAKS HOME RUN RECORD

Gonzalez (10-5) allowed one run over seven innings after nearly tossing a no-hitter against the Marlins in his previous start. In between, he missed a turn to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

The left-hander gladly discussed son Gabriel and the time spent with his family - "It was a beautiful thing" -- but started his postgame talk with lavish praise of Zimmerman.

The first baseman also walked, scored four runs and finished a triple shy of the cycle. He passed Tim Wallach (905), now the Marlins bench coach, for most RBIs in Expos and Nationals history with his second-inning homer. Last month Zimmerman became the franchise's all-time leader in home runs.

"RBI, home run leader. Just put a crown on him," Gonzalez said of Zimmerman. "He's the best."

That's probably what Miami thinks of Gonzalez. In Washington's 1-0 win on July 31, Gonzalez held Miami hitless through eight innings and finished with a one-hitter. He allowed seven hits, struck out six and didn't walk a batter in the rematch. The left-hander has won at least 10 games in eight consecutive seasons.

"He kept us off-balance," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "We got more hits out there, but we weren't really able to get to him."

The Marlins ended any no-hit drama early, but didn't score until Ichiro Suzuki's RBI hit in the fourth. Suzuki had three hits.

Major League home run leader Giancarlo Stanton went hitless for Miami after homering twice this series.

"Everyone talks about his curveball," Zimmerman said of Gonzalez, "but I feel like he gets a lot of groundballs with the changeup."

Washington's offense typically doesn't support Gonzalez -- nine runs over his last seven starts -- but it had five runs and 11 hits off Miami starter Adam Conley (4-5).

Bryce Harper had two hits and two RBIs for Washington. He scored from first on Zimmerman's double in the third for a 3-0 lead after reaching with a run-scoring single.

During a two-run fifth inning, Zimmerman knocked in Harper after the slugger's drag bunt single and Conley's wild pitch.

Conley was 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts since his recall from Triple-A New Orleans on July 18.

"They just kind of kept nicking at (Conley) in that fifth," Mattingly said. "He looked like he had run out of steam and had trouble getting through that. . Zimmerman obviously was all over him tonight."

Zimmerman entered Wednesday batting .076 (2 for 27) since July 31.

"It's been a rough 10 days," he admitted.

Washington's first draft pick after the franchise relocated from Montreal following the 2004 season received loud roars from the crowd after both homers.

"I have a special connection with all the people here," he said. "Kind of grown up together."

Stanton smacked home run No. 38 in Tuesday's 7-3 win. The right fielder had five homers and nine RBIs with a .368 (7 for 19) batting average over the opening five games of the seven-game road trip.

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

On Thursday night, a Washington, D.C. pro sports team did something Washington, D.C. pro sports teams are very good at doing: fall short of making a league or championship game.

The Nationals' disastrous fifth inning against the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series was the beginning of the end, not to mention yet another in a long line of disappointing playoff results for Washington, D.C. sports teams.

You see, Washington, D.C. is the only city with at least three major pro sports teams to not have a single one make a conference or league championship game since 2000.

To make matters worse, Washington, D.C. sports teams have now lost 16 consecutive playoff games in which a win would've advanced the team to the conference or league championship. 

Think about that for a second. Four teams. Zero conference championship appearances since 1998. 

Here's the list.

Washington, D.C. sports fans are not greedy. We can't be. We've had some very good teams recently, with the type of talent, coaching and intangibles needed to win a championship. 

TRY THIS: 20 THINGS DC SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT. YES, HAPPY.

The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team won a world championship was in 1992 when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI.  The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team even made a conference championship game was in 1998, when the Capitals advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, defeating the Sabres to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington, D.C. isn't allowed to have nice sports things.

Sure, we have great players and great teams, but when the playoffs roll around, all the nice things go away. We aren't privy to plucky upstarts who run the table and we aren't privy to dominant teams that make long postseason runs.

Washington, D.C. will have its day, eventually. Sure it may only be a conference championship appearance, but for us, that's fine. We don't expect world championships. We just want something to get invested in.

Early playoff exits are rarely worth the investment.

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With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

"This is the year."

That's the motto for almost every D.C. sports fan when their team is headed for the postseason.

The Nats led a weak NL East the entire season and clinched a spot to play October baseball early into September.

RELATED: COUNTLESS ERRORS DOOM NATIONALS IN SEASON-ENDING LOSS

The team overcame the obstacle of being plagued with injuries and with pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer having a strong bullpen to back them up, the stars were aligning for the team to go all the way.

But now with players like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy having contracts up for grabs in 2019, Nationals reporter Chelsea Janes says 2017 was really the last chance for the team to win a stress-free title.

"I think those questions you've raised like Bryce [Harper's] contract, [Daniel} Murphy may be leaving, you know Rizzo's contract's up after next year, I think those are the things they didn't have to deal with this year that made this such a free chance," Janes said on the Sports Junkies Friday.

"It was a free chance to just feel good and do it now and not have everyone say this is your absolute last chance, and next year it's their absolute last chance for a little while, I think."

"I mean they're not going to be awful in '19, but they're going to be different and I think they've sort of wasted their free pass here and there's legitimate and kind of unrelenting pressure on them next year to make it happen."

It's hard to make sense of what a team will look like one day after a devastating series loss. One thing that is fairly certain is that time is ticking for the Nats to make it happen with arguably the most talented group of players they've ever had.