Nationals

Ellis, Bucks drop Wizards to 0-4 with 101-91 win

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Ellis, Bucks drop Wizards to 0-4 with 101-91 win

WASHINGTON (AP) Even a 12-point head start against the Milwaukee Bucks was not nearly enough for the winless Washington Wizards.

Monta Ellis scored 22 points, and the Bucks quickly erased an early deficit before pulling away with a 13-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to beat the Wizards 101-91 Friday night, when Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings and Washington's Bradley Beal were ejected in the final minute.

Washington fell to 0-4 despite 22 points from Beal, the No. 3 overall pick in June's NBA draft, and a combined 26 from veterans Trevor Ariza (15) and Emeka Okafor (11), matching their output from the team's first three games.

With the outcome no longer in doubt, Beal was called for a flagrant foul when he knocked Ellis to the court on a breakaway. As Beal leaned over to offer Ellis a hand to help him up, Jennings ran up and shoved Beal down.

The Bucks improved to 3-1. They were coming off their first loss, against Memphis on Wednesday.

At the outset Friday, Milwaukee was as bad as can be, and Washington broke out to a 12-0 lead, thanks in part to an efficient fast break that produced eight points. The Bucks, meanwhile, missed their first five shots and began the game 1 for 8, the only basket a 3-pointer by Tobias Harris.

But an 11-point run by the Bucks, capped by Ersan Ilyasova's 3, tied it at 14.

Milwaukee led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter and by halftime was up 56-47, paced by Ilyasova's 11 points and 10 apiece from Ellis and Mike Dunleavy.

The Wizards made things interesting with a 14-2 stretch that put them ahead 63-62 midway through the third quarter. The game was tied entering the final 10 seconds of that period, but Ekpe Udoh's three-point play gave Milwaukee a 75-72 edge entering the fourth.

That began a segment in which Udoh and Beno Udrih scored 11 consecutive points, before Milwaukee's Larry Sanders hit a hook shot for an 85-72 lead. Sanders and Dunleavy each finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.

At the start of the day, the Wizards were one of only two teams in the 30-franchise NBA without a victory. The other? The Detroit Pistons, who were 0-5 heading into their game at the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.

Washington is beginning the season without its top two players, point guard John Wall - the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft - and center Nene. Wall is expected to be sidelined until next month with a knee injury, while Nene has a foot problem and there is no definitive timetable for his return.

The Wizards started last season 0-8 and eventually fired coach Flip Saunders when they were an NBA-worst 2-15.

Washington finished 20-46 - only the Charlotte Bobcats compiled fewer victories - and worked to reshape the roster in the offseason, adding Beal via the draft and jettisoning Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche, having already traded away JaVale McGee and Nick Young.

NOTES: Bucks F Drew Gooden was inactive for the first time this season; he has yet to appear in a game. ``I don't think any coach likes ... when you have to tell a guy `You're inactive,' when he really hasn't done anything to deserve it,'' Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. ``It's just a decision that I have to make.'' Skiles said ``there's no permanence'' to Gooden's status. ... Milwaukee began a stretch of three games in four days. It hosts Boston on Saturday night, then heads to Philadelphia on Monday.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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John Gant homers, pitches Cardinals to 6-4 win over Nationals

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USA TODAY Sports

John Gant homers, pitches Cardinals to 6-4 win over Nationals

ST. LOUIS -- Even John Gant cracked a smile.

Gant homered for his first major league hit and pitched one-run ball into the sixth inning, helping the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 6-4 on Tuesday night for their season-high seventh consecutive victory.

Kolten Wong had three hits and three RBIs as St. Louis (65-55) pulled within four games of the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs and moved within one game of the Philadelphia Phillies for the second NL wild card. The Cardinals also improved to 18-9 since Mike Shildt was named interim manager on July 13, the most wins for a manager through his first 27 games in franchise history.

"Things are starting to click for us," Wong said. "We're playing confident. We're out there playing aggressive and I think it's the kind of baseball Cardinals fans have been waiting for."

The Nationals (60-60) have dropped six of eight to fall eight games behind Atlanta in the NL East.

"We've just got to keep pulling the same rope, keep grinding it out, keep trying to win ballgames," Nationals slugger Bryce Harper said.

Gant (5-4) permitted four hits and struck out six in 5 1/3 innings. He has given up just two earned runs over 11 1/3 innings in his last two starts, both wins.

The 26-year-old Gant was 0 for 30 for his career when he drove a 1-1 pitch from Gio Gonzalez (7-9) over the wall in left in the second. The two-run shot gave Washington a 3-0 lead.

"I was jogging kind of my hands in the air," said Wong, who scored on Gant's homer. "I already knew it was going out. Looking back I think he almost caught me."

Added Gant, "I thought it was going to hit the wall maybe but when I finally looked up and (Wong) was looking back at me, that's when I knew it was going over the wall."

Gant, who has a reputation for being a stoic player, admitted to smiling "once or twice" once he got back to the dugout.

Wong's solo homer made it 6-1 in the sixth, but Washington responded with three in the eighth. Harper hit a two-run shot, and Daniel Murphy singled in Anthony Rendon.

Matt Adams then struck out looking against Dakota Hudson, ending the inning, and Jordan Hicks worked the ninth for his fourth save in eight chances.

Paul DeJong also doubled and scored for St. Louis one night after he connected for a game-ending homer in a 7-6 victory. Matt Carpenter walked in the sixth to extend his on-base streak to 32 games.

"We have a 25-man roster and we have confidence in all of them," Shildt said. "They're here for a reason and guys are looking to contribute every night and in different ways."

Gonzalez was charged with five runs and five hits in four innings. The veteran left-hander is just 1-4 in his last six starts.

"I wasn't hitting my spots," Gonzalez said. "Just not being as consistent in the strike zone as I should be. It's just one of those games you can't explain."

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Need to Know: Redskins have faith in their young cornerbacks but will keep their options open

Need to Know: Redskins have faith in their young cornerbacks but will keep their options open

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on Wednesday, August 15, one day before the Washington Redskins host the Jets in their second preseason game. 

Talking points

The Redskins paid Orlando Scandrick $1 million and he didn’t play so much as a preseason snap for them. The money is gone, and the Redskins are left with what is mostly a youthful group at cornerback

The senior citizen is Josh Norman, who is 30 and entering his seventh NFL season. Quinton Dunbar is next on the age scale at 26. Those two will be the starters at cornerback on the outside. After them, youth rules the day. 

Fabian Moreau, 22, will take the slot corner position that Scandrick was going to fill. He is in his second NFL season having played just 59 snaps as a rookie. 

That’s 59 more NFL snaps than the next three players on the depth chart have combined. Rookies Greg Stroman, a seventh-round pick this year, Adonis Alexander, a supplemental sixth-round pick, and undrafted free agent Danny Johnson, all 22 years old, are the next men up if any of the top three on the depth chart falter or get injured. 

“I’m very impressed with them all,” said Jay Gruden. “You know, obviously Adonis not as much because he just got here, and he’s been hurt but he’s got the skill set that we’ve noticed, as far as your sixth corner, I think he’d be a very good guy to have in your building to develop. Watching Stroman and watching Danny Johnson compete and play, I’ve been impressed. Watching Fabian move inside, I’ve been very impressed.”

That all sounds good. However, Gruden made sure that everyone knows that the cornerback depth chart is not set in stone.

“We still have time if it doesn’t work out or if somebody gets injured, we still have time to make moves also ourselves,” he said.

The Redskins have about nine practices and three preseason games before they have to set their roster. If it proves that their confidence in the young corners is not well founded, they could look to pick up an alternative on the waiver wire, in the free agent market (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is still available), or via a trade.

The best-case is that the kids work out. But if not, there are alternatives. 

Bureau of statistics

The 2017 Redskins were sixth in the league in pass defense according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. 

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The agenda

Today: No media availability

Upcoming: Preseason Jets @ Redskins (Aug. 16) 1 day; Final cut (Sept. 1) 17 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 25 days

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page,Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler