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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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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.

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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.

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