Nationals

Nationals

The Nationals finished in Minnesota by taking the final two games. Thursday became Friday before a 12-6 win was finished following a rain delay and extended (3:45) game. Fernando Rodney fixed an Aaron Barrett jam. Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto and Adam Eaton homered. Washington is 81-64, just a victory shy of last season's total. 

It was an important win, too. The Nationals are trying to run out the clock in order to make it into the postseason. Chicago, Milwaukee, New York and Philadelphia won Thursday. Washington has 17 games -- and two-plus weeks -- to keep that group behind it.

So, here’s where everything rests after another night:

The Nationals are 3 ½ games up on the Cubs and Brewers for the right to host the Wild-Card Game. New York and Philadelphia are 5 ½ games behind Washington; two behind Chicago and Milwaukee. Arizona, which was swept by the Mets and has suddenly lost five in a row, is 3 ½ behind the Cubs and Brewers.

Washington hosts Atlanta for a quick three-game homestand starting Friday. Max Scherzer pitches the opener. Austin Voth and Aníbal Sánchez follow.

Chicago starts a 10-game homestand against hapless Pittsburgh on Friday. Milwaukee -- which has won seven consecutive overall and back-to-back games since Christian Yelich’s season-ending foul ball -- is at St. Louis this weekend. That series has enormous implications for the National League Central Division crown as well as the wild-card race. Milwaukee is four back in the Central. 

The Mets start a three-game home series with the Dodgers. Philadelphia is off Friday. A two-game homestand against Boston follows. Arizona heads home for three games against Cincinnati.

By bumping another even night off the calendar, Washington raised its chances of making the postseason to 96 percent, according to Fivethirtyeight.com. Now, it tussled with the Braves.

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