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Scherzer hit by line drive, Nationals find way to win

Scherzer hit by line drive, Nationals find way to win

MILWAUKEE -- The Washington Nationals snapped out of their hitting slump just in time and survived a scare when a line drive slammed into ace Max Scherzer's left calf in the first inning.

Trea Turner's double to the center field wall scored Wilmer Difo from first base in the eighth, and the Nationals rallied to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2 on Saturday night.

The Brewers took a 2-1 lead into the eighth, when Michael Taylor homered on the first pitch from rookie reliever Josh Hader (1-2). Difo bunted Hader's second pitch for a single and later scored on Turner's double.

The Nationals have scored at least 10 runs in 20 games this year, but managed only four in the first 25 innings of the four-game series in Milwaukee.

"Things weren't going our way most of the night," Washington manager Dusty Baker said.

Scherzer was lifted after throwing 75 pitches over five innings. A liner from Milwaukee's Travis Shaw hit him in the first. In Scherzer's fifth-inning plate appearance, he hit a grounder to shortstop, limped to first and was thrown out easily.

The right-hander pitched the bottom half of the inning before being removed to open the sixth in a 1-1 game. He allowed two hits and two walks while striking out two.

"It tightened up in the second," Scherzer said. "I could pitch on it but I couldn't run. I could feel in my mechanics that I was still getting through the ball so I knew I wasn't in danger of hurting my arm."

Scherzer said he didn't expect to miss an extended period of time.

The Brewers fell 4 games behind Chicago in the NL Central, the farthest Milwaukee has been out of first place all season.

Ryan Madson (5-4) pitched a scoreless seventh in his first outing since Aug. 12. He was reinstated from the disabled list on Friday.

Sean Doolittle pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 14 chances with the NL East-leading Nationals since being obtained from Oakland on July 16. With one runner on, Manny Pina hit a fly near the center field wall that Taylor caught to end the game.

"He hit it good. It sounded good," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. "It just wasn't enough."

It was just the second time that Hader had appeared in back-to-back games this season. He allowed two runs on three hits and only retired one batter.

"I felt good," Hader said. "My arm was ready. I just left pitches over the plate and they got hit."

Milwaukee rookie Brandon Woodruff, recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday, allowed one run on two hits and a walk while striking out eight in seven innings. In four starts this year, he has a 1.52 ERA.

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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.