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2018 MLB Power Rankings: All-Star update

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2018 MLB Power Rankings: All-Star update

The All-Star break is a perfect opportunity to sit down and re-evaluate the landscape of Major League Baseball. As it turns out, however, there aren't as many meaningful moves as one might expect.

The unrivaled dominance of the Astros, Red Sox, and Yankees sets us up for a wildly entertaining October, and the uber-talented rosters of the Indians, Cubs and Dodgers will make noise as well. Still, it means the top three (and, moving down, the next three to four teams) in our power rankings haven't experienced much variance in 2018.

The gap between the haves and the have-nots has never been more pronounced than it is in this era, which means the bottom-four teams have stayed pretty steady since May. Yes, the Reds have made a nice jump since Jim Riggleman took over, and the Orioles are about 15 spots lower than we had them in March, but none of the major moves will have any real impact on who we expect to win the World Series this year.

That doesn't mean it's not worthwhile to see where each team stands, however, and these are certainly still subject to change. The Nationals, for example, have enough talent and starpower on the roster to jump into the top six or seven teams as a legitimate title contender at some point.  

The stars are out in D.C. this week, as baseball converges onto the nation's capital. Are the hometown team's stars enough to keep the roster in the conversation for the playoffs? 

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

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    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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    Nationals place Ryan Madson on 10-day DL

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    Nationals place Ryan Madson on 10-day DL

    Ryan Madson is the latest Washington National headed to the DL, turning the team's relief pitching rotation upside down even more than it already is. 

    According to MASN's Dan Kolko, the 37-year-old is nursing a "lumbar nerve root irritation" injury and will sit out for 10 days. 

    In response, the team has named Koda Glover as the closer, who was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse Wednesday. 

    Glover gave up a game-ending solo blast to the Cardinals' Kevin DeJong Monday night. 

    The night before, Madson was on the other end of David Bote's walk-off grand slam in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Cubs. 

    As for Tuesday night, Glover's status remains unknown.

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