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Brewers beat Nationals 4-1 behind Chacin, 3 homers

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Brewers beat Nationals 4-1 behind Chacin, 3 homers

Jhoulys Chacin pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Washington Nationals 4-1 on Friday night.

During the game, the teams reportedly worked out a trade that will send pitcher Gio Gonzalez from the Nationals to the Brewers. The left-handed starter, who has struggled in 2018, will be a free agent in the offseason.

The Brewers also got home runs from Jesus Aguilar, his 31st, and Erik Kratz in winning their third straight game. Milwaukee holds the second NL wild-card spot.

Chacin (14-5) allowed a run on six hits while striking out six and walking two in 6 1/3 innings.

Jeremy Jeffress pitched the ninth for his eighth save in 13 opportunities. With a hard rain falling, the Nationals loaded the bases with one out, but Jeffress struck out Bryce Harper and got Anthony Rendon on a fielder's choice.

Trea Turner had three hits for Washington, which went 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position.

Tanner Roark (8-14) allowed four runs on six hits over six innings. Roark came in 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA in his past seven starts, but the Brewers homered in each of the first three innings against him.

Shaw connected for a two-run shot with two outs in the first, Kratz hit a solo home run in the second and Aguilar connected with nobody on in the third.

Nationals catcher Matt Wieters was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes.

MORE MOVES

Brewers: Acquired LHP Xavier Cedeno from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for OF Bryan Connell and RHP Johan Dominguez, two minor leaguers. Cedeno is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in 33 relief appearances this season.

Nationals: Sent RHP Ryan Madson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for RHP Andrew Istler. Madson was 5-5 with five saves and a 4.08 ERA in 69 games for Washington. Istler went 4-4 with a 2.37 ERA in 41 games (one start) between three levels of Los Angeles' minor league system.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: LHP Sean Doolittle (left toe inflammation) threw a simulated game Friday and is slated for another one Sunday or Monday. "I was a little bit inconsistent with my execution, but I was very happy with how the foot felt," he said. ... Manager Dave Martinez said Harper is still battling a cough, but the former MVP was back in the lineup after pinch-hitting on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (9-7, 4.04) makes his second career appearance against Washington, the first being a 2014 loss while with Arizona.

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-7, 4.14) makes his first start against Milwaukee since 2014. He's 0-2 with a 5.30 ERA in three games vs. the Brewers.

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Wild-card tracker: Nationals hanging on with one week to go

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Wild-card tracker: Nationals hanging on with one week to go

The calendar is taking numbers with it, stripping the season down day by day, turning what was a tight wild-card race more into a fight for geography.

Washington enters the final week of the regular season with a hefty schedule ahead and its lead for the right to host the Wild-Card Game gone. The Nationals lost, 5-3, in Miami on Sunday because the bullpen blew yet another lead. As much as things have changed since April and May, one has remained constant: the Nationals’ bullpen is the worst in the league and biggest threat to team success. Their wild-card magic number is four in spite of it. 

Meanwhile, Milwaukee hung on for a 4-3 win against Pittsburgh to sweep the Pirates. The Brewers carried a perfect game through six innings. They used three pitchers -- including eventual winner Gio Gonzalez -- to do it. Milwaukee’s blistering pace the last two weeks has pulled it into a virtual tie with Washington. The Nationals are .001 ahead of Milwaukee with a game in hand. The Brewers hold the tiebreaker should it come to that once 162 games are finally complete.

The Cubs are spiraling. St. Louis scored two runs in the top of the ninth then sent Andrew Miller to the mound to finish a four-game sweep of Chicago. The Cardinals won each game by one run, reaffirming how slight the gap between the postseason and disappointment may be. Chicago manager Joe Maddon is in the final year of his contract. Even with the currency from managing the Cubs’ first World Series win since 1918, Maddon’s chances of returning on a fresh deal appear slim. If Chicago misses the playoffs, they become more unlikely, and looking back at four one-run losses to a despised rival becomes an easy spot to start the grousing.

Chicago’s six consecutive losses have turned the wild-card race into a two-team adventure. Increasingly, the main question is where the game will be played as opposed to its participants. The next seven days will determine that.

Here are the postseason chances for each team, according to fivethirtyeight.com:

Nationals, 98 percent

Brewers, 98 percent

Mets, 2 percent

Cubs, 1 percent

Phillies, less than one percent

Monday, Washington opens a final eight-game homestand with Patrick Corbin on the mound and Bryce Harper in the batter’s box. Philadelphia lost Sunday to drop to 79-75. Its wild-card elimination number is a mere two, which provides the Nationals an opportunity for double satisfaction against the offseason’s “stupid money” spenders. Washington could both eliminate and clinch against Philadelphia by the middle of the week. 

The weekend delivers a tussle with Cleveland which could be meaningless or decide everything. An ideal setup would include Washington clinching its spot before the Indians arrive in town. To follow would be the question of how hard it wants to push for homefield. Can Davey Martinez rest his most-relied upon pitchers the final day of the season? Or will it be a desperate day just create another?

Watching Milwaukee will be more important. The Brewers’ magic number is down to three. Their soft schedule continues this week with visits to Cincinnati and Colorado. Sonny Gray opens the series for the Reds. Luis Castillo closes it. So, Washington can take some solace in knowing Cincinnati’s two top pitchers will be deployed against Milwaukee. However, Colorado, 67-89, is Colorado, and the final weekend against subpar competition gives Milwaukee ample chance to play at home Oct. 1. 

One week to go.

Coming up Monday:

Milwaukee off

Chicago off

Philadelphia at Washington, 7:05 p.m. Eflin (9-12, 4.00 ERA) vs. Corbin (13-7, 3.10)

Miami at New York, 7:10 p.m., Smith (9-10, 4.24) vs. Matz (10-9, 4.16)

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Local pizza chain continues to troll Bryce Harper with deal

Local pizza chain continues to troll Bryce Harper with deal

Are you a Nationals fan, a pizza lover, and still a tad bitter that Bryce Harper left the nation's capital for a mega-contract with the Phillies?

Well, you're in luck.

Philadelphia heads to Washington for a rare five-game series (Tuesday's doubleheader is a makeup game) on Monday, and barring a miracle, the final time the Phillies will face the Nationals in 2019. 

&Pizza, a Washington, D.C.-headquartered build-your-own pizza spot, is offering a promotion for every time Harper strikes out against his former team.

After every strikeout, fans will have exactly three minutes to text '#UROUT' to #200-03 in order to receive a promotional code. In return, each customer will be sent a code that will allow them to purchase a $3 pizza through online ordering or the mobile app. The full terms of the sweepstakes can be found here.

In his first season with the Phillies, Harper has had mixed results against his former club. In 48 at-bats, the 26-year-old has 12 hits (.250 average), two home runs and eight RBIs. 

But as far as team success, the Nationals have had the last laugh in the first year in the post-Harper era. Entering Sunday, with nine games remaining, the Nationals currently hold the top slot in the NL wild card race.

Things have not gone as well for the Phillies, who entered Sunday five games back of the second wild card spot with just nine games to go.

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