Nationals

Golf Capsules

Golf Capsules

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Graeme McDowell closed with a 4-under 68 on Sunday and held off Keegan Bradley with a pair of superb short-game shots that carried him to a three-shot win in the World Challenge despite the Sherwood Country Club playing longer than ever in a light rain.

McDowell then headed home for a 10-week holiday with his first win in two years. It was the 10th time in 12 rounds at Sherwood that McDowell has shot in the 60s, and he extended his dominance on the course that Jack Nicklaus carved out among the foothills of Conejo Valley. In three appearances, McDowell has won twice and was runner-up.

McDowell won for the first time since he beat Tiger Woods in a playoff at Sherwood to close out a dream season in 2010 that included his first major at the U.S. Open and the winning point for Europe at the Ryder Cup.

Bradley, who was within one shot after a birdie on the fifth hole, closed with a 69. Bo Van Pelt had a 70 to finish third. Woods, the tournament host and five-time champion, was never in the picture. He didn't make birdie until the 13th hole and shot 71 to tie for fourth.

Bradley's birdie on the 13th hole for a two-shot swing brought him within two shots with five holes to play. McDowell never let him get any closer, however. He hit a beautiful lag putt from 75 feet just off the green at No. 14 for an easy par, then hit a chip from behind the 17th green that he was hopeful of getting within 6 feet of the cup. The ball was one turn from falling for birdie.

McDowell made a 6-foot birdie on the 18th that he didn't really need to finish on 17-under 271 and earn $1 million against the 18-man field.

NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE

SUN CITY, South Africa (AP) - Martin Kaymer of Germany shot a 3-under 69 to earn his first title of 2012, holding on for a two-shot victory in rainy conditions at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Kaymer finished at 8-under 280, two ahead of Charl Schwartzel (69) of South Africa. Bill Haas of the United States was third after a 71.

Kaymer was in trouble twice toward the end, pulling his tee shoot deep into the rough on the par-5 No. 14. He blasted out and made a brilliant birdie. He bogeyed No. 15 to allow Schwartzel to get within one shot, but recovered through the last three holes to close out his first win since Nov. 20, 2011.

South African Louis Oosthuizen (74) was fourth. Two-time defending champion Lee Westwood's run at Sun City ended with a 73, seven shots behind the winner.

The rest of the 12-man field were over par through four rounds at a tough Gary Player Country Club layout, where narrow fairways, stubborn rough, gusty winds and - on Sunday - steady rain made scoring consistently difficult. No one shot better than 69 all week. Kaymer's win was his first since the WGC HSBC Champions last year and earned him a $1.25 million check.

PGA TOUR QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT

LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) - Australia's Steven Bowditch shot an 8-under 64 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to take a one-stroke lead after the fifth round of the PGA Tour qualifying tournament.

Bowditch had a 23-under 337 total in the six-round event. The final top 25 and ties will receive 2013 PGA Tour cards and the next 50 and ties will earn Web.com Tour cards.

Kris Blanks was second after a 66, and Derek Ernst (66), Steve LeBrun (67) and Edward Loar (68) followed at 21 under. They also played the Nicklaus course.

Sweden's Robert Karlsson, an 11-time winner on the European Tour winner, and England's Ross Fisher, a four-time European Tour winner, were in a group tied for 11th at 18 under. Karlsson shot 68, and Fisher had a 67.

Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton was tied for 15th at 17 under after a 67. Camilo Villegas, a three-time PGA Tour winner, had a 73 to drop from a tie for 20th to a tie for 46th at 12 under.

LPGA TOUR QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Canada's Rebecca Lee-Bentham shot a 5-under 67 to tie Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn for the top spot in the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament, leading the 20 players who earned full status.

Lee-Bentham and Jutanugarn finished the five-round event at 13-under 347 at LPGA International. Jutanugarn shot a 74 after taking a six-stroke lead into the day.

Japan's Ayako Uehara was third at 12 under after a 69. Kathleen Ekey followed at 10 under after a 65, and Lisa McCloskey and Japan's Chie Arimura were 8 under. McCloskey had a 71, and Arimura shot 70.

Two-time tour winner Laura Diaz improved her status, tying for eighth at 6 under after a 72. Christina Kim, also a two-time tour winner, failed to improve her status, shooting a 74 to tie for 39th at 1 over.

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What to watch as Nats continue three-game series against Marlins

What to watch as Nats continue three-game series against Marlins

This is the Nationals’ first time in Miami this season, and the team finished with a 3-2 loss against the Marlins on Friday night. Here are a few things to look for as they enter the second game of the three-game series against the Floridians: 

  1. Friday night’s situational hitting was poor, NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas reported. The Nats left 10 runners on base in a 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins.However, the Nationals’ offense has changed this season. This was exemplified in Friday’s series opener against the Marlins, in which both Adam Eaton and Victor Robles bunted to get hits.
  2. Eaton singled on a bunt in the first inning, eventually scoring on a Juan Soto RBI single, while Robles also reached base safely in the third following Eaton’s strategy and then stole a base. These creative plays helped get men on base, but again, more often than not they stayed there. Brian Dozier hit his second home run of the season in the seventh inning, a solo shot which gave the Nats their second and final run of the night. Dozier had a rough start to the season, and after Friday’s game, he has just two RBIs – both via solo homers. He has a batting average of .182, and he’s lost playing time to Howie Kendrick as the season has moved forward. Kendrick has a batting average of .477, the highest on the roster.
  3. Anthony Rendon continued his hit streak, extending it to 17 games with a double Friday. This is the longest hitting streak in the MLB this season, as well as the third baseman’s personal record. Within the organization, Rendon is chasing Hall-of-Famer Heinie Manush’s record, which stretched to 33 consecutive hits in 1933. Can he get another on Saturday?

 

Download the MyTeams app for coverage from NBC Sports Washington of the Nationals/Marlins game on Saturday. The game broadcast will be at 6:10 PM ET on 106.7 the Fan and MASN2. 

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Middling Anibal Sanchez and quiet bats do Nationals in against Marlins

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Middling Anibal Sanchez and quiet bats do Nationals in against Marlins

The Washington Nationals lost to the Miami Marlins, 3-2, Friday night to drop back to 9-9. Here are five observations from the game...

1. For all the offseason efforts at improvement, winning the National League East could come down to its one member which is trying to lose.

The four spenders each play Miami 19 times. By the end, going 11-8 against the in-the-tank Marlins may become a lamentable part of some team’s 2019 legacy. They either brought in a marquee pitcher, a generational outfielder or a former MVP third baseman. But they didn’t do enough against the Marlins, costing themselves the single, taut playoff spot that emerges from the division. It’s a viable storyline to project.

The Nationals took their first negative step toward that fate Friday in a 3-2 loss to the Marlins.

The situational hitting was poor -- Washington left 10 runners on base. The starting pitching was so-so -- Anibal Sanchez took the loss. The bullpen made one dire mistake -- Matt Grace’s first pitch hit left-hander Curtis Granderson with the bases loaded, forcing in the decisive run. The luck wasn’t great -- Caleb Smith, a quality left-hander marooned in Miami as the staff’s best pitcher, was on turn. Anticipate him representing Miami at the All-Star Game this season.

Brian Dozier homered. Mark that in the positive column. Joe Ross pitched two innings of quality relief. Put him next to Dozier.

Otherwise, the loss was sigh-worthy for a team trying to lurch forward, ending its up-and-down run of the first three weeks.

2. Another day, another hit for Anthony Rendon.

His sixth-inning double extended his hitting streak to 17 games, the longest in Major League Baseball this season. It’s also an extension of a personal best for Rendon.

Rendon’s 15 extra-base hits in 17 games is a Nationals/Expos record.

Who is he chasing for the organization’s hit streak record? Hall-of-Famer Heinie Manush, who hit safely in 33 consecutive games back in 1933.

Manush played for the Senators from 1930-1935. He hit .336 when he set the Washington record for consecutive game with a hit. He led the league in triples (17) and hits (221) that season.

Manush won a batting title in 1925 when he hit .378 for Detroit. Rendon is currently hitting .377 in the opening weeks of the season.

3. Sanchez was ok. Not great, not terrible. Just ok.

He lasted 5 ⅓ innings, allowed five hits, three earned runs, walked four and struck out six. His ERA is 4.91.

Regression for Sanchez this season was expected. His 2.83 ERA in Atlanta last season came strongly against the current of his previous pitching. Sanchez had a 5.67 ERA over the three prior seasons.

However, this has been a leap back, a full two runs in arrears of last season’s ERA. More troubling than the ERA is Sanchez’s path through lineups. His walk rate is up, his strikeout rate down.

As the season moves along, a comparison point for Sanchez will be the results of left-hander Wade Miley in Houston. The Nationals made a multi-year offer to Miley which was better than the offer he eventually settled on with the Astros, according to a source. Miley ended up signing for just one year in Houston because the free agent market went south, and Washington quickly pivoted to Sanchez. Keeping track of the two via ERA-plus (which accounts for park factors) during the season will be a fun exercise. Coming into Friday, Miley was by far the better pitcher in that department, 129 to 95. Another bloated outing from Sanchez only increased that gap.

4. The Nationals hoped to play a different brand of offense this season. They wanted to deploy more athleticism, using speed and contact to produce runs.

They took the idea to the extreme Friday. Adam Eaton and Victor Robles both bunted for hits. Eaton scored Washington’s first run after reaching base via his drag bunt up the first base line.

Robles stole second and ended up on third following his bunt in the same direction in the third inning.

Creative work at the plate for both.

5. Another bullpen twist hit Friday. Austen Williams was placed on the 10-day injured list because of a sprained right AC joint. Austin Adams was called up to replace him.

Williams had a disastrous outing Wednesday in the Nationals’ 9-6 win over the Giants. He allowed four earned runs -- on two home runs -- after the Nationals entered the ninth inning with a 9-2 lead. Williams’ inability to get an out in the ninth eventually forced closer Sean Doolittle into a game he never should have entered.

Doolittle’s entrance also complicated the current series in Miami. He pitched back-to-back games to close the series against San Francisco. His Friday availability was in question because of that, though the Nationals didn’t end up needing him.

The right-handed Adams, 27, joins the team from Triple-A Fresno. He struck out 12, allowed a hit and didn’t give up an earned run in his six innings with the Grizzlies.

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