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Stephen Strasburg lifts Nationals to 17 game lead in NL East

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USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Strasburg lifts Nationals to 17 game lead in NL East

MIAMI -- The results for Stephen Strasburg looked like a pitcher in top form.

However, Strasburg had to battle through a leg cramp in six innings extending his scoreless innings streak to 26 to help the Washington Nationals to a 2-1 victory over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.

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"I felt like my arm was in good shape," Strasburg said. "I was just getting into some humidity and stuff, and have been dealing with that a little bit. It just seems like I lose a lot of fluids no matter how much I drink, it kind of just goes right through me. IVs were seemingly helping me in the past, but they weren't going to give me one here so it was just part of it. I've just got to find a way and I went as long as I could."

Strasburg (12-4) allowed a single in each of his six innings, but was able to keep the Marlins from getting into scoring position after tossing a shutout against the Marlins in his last start on Aug. 30.

"We obviously didn't get to him but still had better at-bats tonight than we did the other day," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "You just need to have production at some point and we really weren't able to do that."

He struck out eight and did not walk a batter throwing 60 of his 90 pitches for strikes and lowering his ERA to 2.78

"If he was 100 percent good, I think he would have thrown eight or nine innings today," Nationals catcher Pedro Severino said. "He would have thrown a complete game again today, but he did an excellent job. I give respect because nobody goes through that situation hurt and wants to keep pitching. That's what I call a man."

Strasburg worked through the cramp while on the mound stretching at times.

"He threw the ball great," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "It just came up again and I don't know what to make of it because our trainers are working on it, just taking anti-cramping medicine and all of that kind of stuff."

Daniel Murphy hit his 22nd home run and Severino also drove in a run for the Nationals, who have won seven straight against the Marlins.

"One-nothing didn't seem like it was going to hold up especially against this team here so that was a great victory for us," Baker said. "We're back to 30-over (84-54) so we want to keep marching from here and our magic number goes down every day."

Sean Doolittle pitched the ninth for his 18th save in 19 chances. Doolittle allowed a lead-off bloop single to Marcell Ozuna, who eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Derek Dietrich, but got Brian Anderson to line out to end the game.

Miami's Giancarlo Stanton went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and did not add to his major league-leading home run total of 53, but did take a home run away from Murphy when he leaped above the right-center field wall to make a catch in the third.

Miami's Odrisamer Despaigne (0-3) nearly matched Strasburg allowing one run and five hits in seven innings.

Severino's RBI single in the second scored Adam Lind, who doubled to lead off, and gave the Nationals an early lead.

Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth dropped a fly ball hit by Miguel Rojas in the seventh giving the Marlins a runner on second base for the first time. However, Sammy Solis got pinch-hitter Ichiro Suzuki to ground out to end the inning.

Murphy's home run to right field off Kyle Barraclough in the eighth pushed the lead to 2-0.

Ozuna had three hits for the Marlins, who have lost eight of nine.

"What's most important now is to win and get out of this bad stretch we're experiencing," Despaigne said. "We were one of the teams playing the best baseball to one that is playing poorly. We are trying to find that moment to get out of this bad situation."

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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. 

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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.