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Utilizing bullpen, Nationals battle it out with the Marlins

Utilizing bullpen, Nationals battle it out with the Marlins

WASHINGTON -- Max Scherzer pitched seven sharp innings in his first start since he was sidelined by neck spasms, and the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 3-2 on Monday night.

Bryce Harper homered for Washington, and pinch hitter Adam Lind singled in the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning. The Nationals expanded their lead in the NL East over second-place Miami to 14 games.

Wilmer Difo led off the eighth with a single off Jarlin Garcia (0-2). He reached second on a bunt and, with two outs, Lind delivered a single up the middle.

It was Lind's 13th pinch hit of the season, and his 10th RBI in that role.

Brandon Kintzler (4-2) worked the eighth and Sean Doolittle got three outs to earn his sixth save. Both pitchers were acquired shortly before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Giancarlo Stanton hit his major league-leading 37th homer for the Marlins, matching his previous career high.

Scherzer struck out nine and gave up two runs. The right-hander was coming off an abbreviated start against the Marlins six days earlier, when he was pulled after one inning with neck spasms.

In this one, Scherzer allowed only five hits, two of which really mattered: Stanton's home run and an RBI single by pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, who stepped to the plate with a .036 lifetime batting average.

In a strange twist, Marlins starter Chris O'Grady was forced from the game with a right oblique strain after facing only five batters. He walked Ryan Zimmerman in the second inning and was replaced by Despaigne, who subsequently gave up an RBI single to Matt Wieters.

Harper hit his 29th home run leading off the fourth, a drive deep into the right-field seats. He hit 24 all last season.

Miami got a run back in the fifth when Tomas Telis doubled and scored on a two-out single by Despaigne, who was 2 for 56 with no RBIs in his six-year career.

Stanton tied it in the sixth with his 17th home run at Nationals Park, most by any visiting player.

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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