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Around the NL East: Where everyone is struggling

Around the NL East: Where everyone is struggling

Welcome to a new series on NBC Sports Washington, that will take a weekly look around the National League East. There shouldn’t be much to keep track of though because we all know the New York Mets and Miami Marlins are going to stay in the basement, and the Washington Nationals will eventually pull away from the pack.

Still, these pesky division rivals are the only reason the Nationals are in a tie for first place. The Braves are +14 in the win column when it comes to NL East contests as opposed to the Nationals.

Now to delve into this week…

The past seven days were not a good one to say the least around the NL (l)East. During that span, all five teams were a combined 11-17. Only Washington (3-2) broke above .500.

Thank goodness no one else in the National League is pulling that far away either.

Washington Nationals

Record: 36-27
Last 10: 5-5
Upcoming Series: @ New York Yankees (2), @ Toronto Blue Jays (4)

Things just are not clicking when Max Scherzer (10-2) can get you through seven innings, only allow two runs, and the team cannot pull it together for a victory. They also have Bryce Harper tripping on his own helmet, which is never a good sign. Although the Nationals battled to get back to atop the NL East Standings, by no means are they comfortable.

Two of their starting pitchers got sent the disabled list. Of course Stephen Strasburg to the 10-day DL is of the most concern. Although it is just simply shoulder inflammation on his throwing arm, it is something that has to be moderated with his history. The No. 5 starter, Jeremy Hellickson is also on the mend and their setup man, Brandon Kintzler is taking a 10-day rest after some terrible outings.

The good news? There is an offensive reinforcement back in the lineup, Adam Eaton and Lord Stanley’s Cup took a visit to the park on Saturday afternoon.

Does anyone know if Alex Ovechkin is allowed to DH? We already know he can’t pitch.

Atlanta Braves

Record: 37-28
Last 10: 5-5
Upcoming Series: vs. New York Mets (2), vs. San Diego Padres (4)

Taking two out of three against the Nationals did nothing for the Atlanta Braves to gain momentum in the division. Since their home series against the Nats, they only have won two of their six games, all coming on the West Coast.

For the moment they are continuing to rotate a reliever into the No. 5 slot in the pitching rotation, but help is on the way. 20-year-old, former First Round pick in 2015, Mike Soroka just completed his rehab stint and should start Wednesday against the Mets. Lauded for his high ceiling, he’s only seen three games of MLB action.

Freddie Freeman is keeping Atlanta’s bats alive for the time being. During their past six games, he has 10 hits, six of them for extra bases as he is making a huge push in the All-Star voting.

Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 33-30
Last 10: 3-7
Upcoming Series: vs. Colorado Rockies (3), @ Milwaukee Brewers (3)

Aside from Aaron Nola (7-2) starts, there is not much consistency from the Phillies. Yet, while the Phillies are slumping they are not going anywhere in the standings. Still three games back from the Nationals and the Braves, Philadelphia remains in striking range as they try and put together their offense.

As it stands they currently are tied for the fourth-worst batting average in the majors (.230). Even worse is that they aren’t even getting quality hits. Heck as a team, they’ve only scrounged together 11 extra base hits in the past week.

New York Mets

Record: 28-34
Last 10: 2-8
Upcoming Series: @ Atlanta Braves (3), @ Arizona Diamondbacks (4)

On Sunday Night Baseball, the Mets managed to get their first win since May 30.

Hard to imagine that 12-day break in victories is for a team that started the year 10-1, their best start in franchise history.

Then after their victory, they let go of veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Things are still not going smoothly for New York and more holes continue to pop up.

Miami Marlins

Record: 23-42
Last 10: 3-7
Upcoming Series: vs. San Francisco Giants (4), @ Baltimore Orioles (3)

In the midst of 16 games, in 16 days, the Marlins are no closer to getting out of the basement of the NL East.

However, it has been quite the hot streak for Derek Dietrich and Brian Anderson over the last 30 days. Both hitting over .350, these two helped power the Marlins to 19 runs in their three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Pair that with Justin Bour and Starlin Castro one would think that lineup would be a more than formidable offense.

Now if only they could find a starting pitcher to go at least six innings without giving up more than three runs to compliment it.

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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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