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Dusty Baker wants to finish season strong, fall to Phillies

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Dusty Baker wants to finish season strong, fall to Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- At some point, Dusty Baker will sit down and start thinking about the Chicago Cubs.

That wasn't the main topic on the Washington Nationals manager's mind Wednesday night.

"My thoughts are to finish the season strong, then to worry about Chicago," Baker said after falling by a 7-5 margin to the Philadelphia Phillies. "We want to finish strong and to go into the new season with some momentum."

For the Nationals, who clinched the NL East more than two weeks ago, Wednesday's most significant action occurred in St. Louis. That's where the Cubs beat the Cardinals to wrap up the NL Central and ensure they will play Washington in the NL Division Series starting Oct. 6.

Washington won four of the seven games against the Cubs in the regular season.

MORE MLB: LATEST WILD CARD STANDINGS/ UPDATE

"It will be fun," said Washington starter Tanner Roark, an Illinois native who could possibly start Game 4 of the Division Series at Wrigley Field. "It will be loud."

Roark (13-11) struggled with command, walking five hitters and allowing six earned runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.

"I just didn't feel like I had anything," Roark said. "I was battling myself to throw strikes. They took advantage of some fastballs. It was one of those games."

Michael A. Taylor homered among his three hits for Washington. Trea Turner reached base all five times and recorded his 44th stolen base of the season.

Bryce Harper went 1 for 4 with a single and scored a run in his second game since returning from the disabled list with hyperextended left knee.

MORE NATS: WERTH, HARPER NAIL GAME OF THRONES NIGHT

For the Phillies, Aaron Altherr tied the game at 5 with a triple in the fifth. He later scored on Odubel Herrera's double.

Rookie Yacksel Rios (1-0) got his first career victory, getting two outs in the fifth in relief of starter Mark Leiter Jr.

Phillies relievers threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings after throwing four perfect innings in Tuesday's win.

Hector Neris worked a perfect ninth for his 20th consecutive save conversion and 26th in 29 opportunities overall. It is the most for a Phillies reliever since Brad Lidge converted all 41 save opportunities during the 2008 season.

In their last 30 games dating back to Aug. 27, Phillies reliever have posted a 2.52 ERA.

"I'm proud of the guys, the fact that they play hard the entire season in my opinion," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "We just didn't have the offense clicking the first half and that was part of our problems. But in the second half things started clicking. We started playing better baseball."

RELATED: LATEST MLB POSTSEASON BRACKET PROJECTION

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.