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Edwin Jackon's performance not enough

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Edwin Jackon's performance not enough

Game in a nutshell: Edwin Jackson was brilliant, striking out 11 and carrying a shutout into the seventh inning. But Jon Niese was equally as dominant, scattering five hits without issuing a walk over 7 13 innings. In the end, this game was decided by a two-batter stretch in the top of the seventh: David Wright drew a leadoff walk, then seconds later Ike Davis sent a two-run homer into the left-field bullpen. And that was it. The Nats never managed to push a run across against Niese or a New York bullpen that boasts the majors' highest ERA (5.05). It was a surprisingly disappointing performance from a lineup that had been inflicting serious damage on opposing pitchers over the last month. And it was particularly disheartening given Jackson's fine start. Thus, the Nationals missed a chance to improve to 30 games over .500 and secure another series victory.

Hitting lowlight: They really didn't have any legitimate scoring opportunities all night, never advancing a runner to third base. But if the Nationals lineup want to look back at one moment when they might have gotten something going, they could point to the bottom of the sixth of what was still a scoreless game. Danny Espinosa led off with a little dribbler down the third-base line for an infield single. Ryan Zimmerman tagged a ball to center field, but it was tracked down by Andres Torres. Michael Morse then struck out looking for the second straight at-bat, and Adam LaRoche was robbed of a hit (maybe extra bases) by Davis, who made a nice scoop at first base. Perhaps the credit should go to Niese and the Mets, but that was a potentially wasted opportunity for the Nationals on a night in which they didn't have many to begin with.

Pitching highlight: Under normal circumstances, you'd think seven innings of two-hit, 11-strikeout ball would be good enough to earn a win. Not on this night for Jackson. The right-hander was absolutely dominant for six innings, giving up only Mike Baxter's early triple without issuing a walk. But with his teammates unable to provide any run support, Jackson entered the seventh with no margin for error. Unfortunately, he walked David Wright to open the inning, then served up a two-run homer to Davis on the very next pitch. A brilliant start by Jackson went for naught.

Key stat: A sellout crowd of 42,662 (second-largest in Nationals Park history) paid to watch pennant race baseball in the District at the same time the local NFL team was playing an exhibition game.

Up next: The series concludes with Sunday's 1:35 p.m. game at Nationals Park. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will be seeking his league-leading 16th victory against right-hander Jeremy Hefner.

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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

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USA Today Sports

What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer had a heated exchange in the Nationals dugout Friday night.

It was another not-so-great moment in an otherwise unspectacular season for the Nats so far.

Things like this often appear worse than they are based on what we can see, not hear, on television. In any case, it has fans and pundits talking about a perceived off-the-field issue instead of the actual game. There's nothing "good" about this, but there are important factors that are "bad" and ones that are "not bad."

Davey Martinez, Strasburg and Scherzer already said this has been settled and wasn't a big deal in the first place, but for a manager who's already faced some scrutiny this year for how he manages his pitchers, having two of them go at it in the dugout isn't ideal.

It also doesn't present the best optics for a team that came out of the All-Star Break 5.5 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals need to build some momentum heading into the dog days of summer, and after a lackluster first half, this isn't how anybody would want to start the second half.

This was also Strasburg's first start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman just rejoined the club as well. Things are shaping up to make for a solid second-half run, but all this does is detract from that.

The Nationals also just hosted the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. Having something like this happen in the dugout where everybody can see it takes away from some of that good publicity.

But there are also positives, or at least non-negatives, to take from this. Scherzer has always been ultracompetitive, and as the best pitcher on the staff, he needs to harness that into leadership. With Strasburg coming off a rough inning, Scherzer may have thought he needed a little tough love from a veteran. There's nothing wrong with that. Strasburg, to his credit, has never been one to focus too much on himself, so if there's anyone who can take something like this constructively, it'd be him.

This isn't Jonathan Paplebon fighting Bryce Harper for not running out a pop fly the day after the Nats were eliminated from playoff contention. These are two veteran guys who play the same position who are both competitive and want to win. It's akin to an older brother pushing his younger brother to do better. Strasburg even hinted at the family aspect after the game.

In the end, there's really nothing to see here. Frustration is part of the game. Talking it out is a part of remedying the frustration.

What really matters is tracking down the Braves and the Phillies. The Nationals can get started on that Sunday in the second game of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Braves.

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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

Following a dicey matchup between the Nats and Braves Friday night which featured a heated argument between Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals are getting a much-needed opportunity to regroup.

The Washington Nationals' official Twitter account announced that Saturday evening's matchup will be postponed due to inclement weather just after 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

The Nationals had planned to host "JMU Night" at the ballpark as a part of their "College Day" series, and due to more forecasted inclement weather Sunday, the Nationals decided to call the game off sooner rather than later.

The Nationals have yet to announce when the game will be made up.

If Sunday's game is played as scheduled, Max Scherzer will start.

This post will be updated when more information regarding a makeup date has been announced.

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