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Zimmerman heating up as postseason nears, hits two home runs against Pittsburgh

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USA Today Sports

Zimmerman heating up as postseason nears, hits two home runs against Pittsburgh

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings and Ryan Zimmerman homered twice to help the Washington Nationals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 on Friday night.

Strasburg gave up two hits and two walks while striking out eight. He's 5-1 with a 0.84 ERA since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 19. Strasburg (15-4) retired the first 14 batters before Gregory Polanco's hard smash bounced off a diving Zimmerman at first base for the Pirates' first hit.

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Zimmerman's multi-homer game was the 23rd of his career and seventh this season. He was 4-for-4 with two doubles and has reached 36 homers for the first time in his career. Zimmerman has 107 RBIs -- three short of his career best. He had a two-run homer in the sixth and then a solo shot in the eighth.

Gerrit Cole (12-12) kept Pittsburgh close for a while with seven strikeouts and a walk. He allowed just one run with an out in the sixth inning before Daniel Murphy's RBI single ended his night at 103 pitches. Zimmerman followed with his two-run homer off reliever A.J. Schugel.

Andrew McCutchen drove in the Pirates lone run with a double in the top of the ninth off Nationals reliever Matt Grace.

MORE NATS: DATES, TV SET FOR NLDS MATCH-UP WITH CUBS

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Bryce Harper thanks Nationals fans for support during 2017 season

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USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper thanks Nationals fans for support during 2017 season

It's been a week since the air was sucked out of D.C. in the Nationals Game 5, 9-8 loss to the Chicago Cubs. 

And now that we've had a few days to decompress from another early D.C. playoff exit, Nats right fielder Bryce Harper decided to take some time to thank fans for their support this season.

Harper posted an Instagram video Wednesday afternoon, with a fresh cut, and thanked fans for continuing to pack Nats Park. In the video he says he looks forward to "chasing that championship" again next spring. 

The 2017 season could be described as a rough one for Harper after missing the last few weeks of the season with a bone bruise in his left knee. 

Harper had a .319 average during the 2017 season, along with 29 home runs, 97 RBI's, 95 runs scored and 4 stolen bases. He is entering the final year of his contract.

RELATED: 20 THINGS SAD D.C. SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT

National Fans. Thank you!💯 #RedLightRecording

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bharper3407) on

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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.