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Gio goes for another win

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Gio goes for another win

How good has the 1-2 punch of Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez been this year? Well, consider that the Nationals' record when either of their aces starts is an astounding 22-5. (We'll ignore for a moment the fact they're 17-22 when anyone else starts.)

So the odds would appear to be in the Nats' favor for tonight's series finale against the Rays. Except that Gonzalez has lost two of his last three outings. And Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore has won his last three starts. Hmm...

As he's now prone to do when facing a left-hander, Davey Johnson is benching both Steve Lombardozzi and Adam LaRoche. It'll be Xavier Nady in left field and Tyler Moore at first base tonight.

One Rays note: Joel Peralta is expected to have his suspension handed down by MLB this afternoon, so there's a good chance the pine-tar-using reliever won't be available and his team will be down a man for this game.

Updates to come...

TAMPA BAY RAYS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 178
Weather: Mostly clear, 94 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to CF

NATIONALS (39-27)
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
1B Tyler Moore
LF Xavier Nady
C Jesus Flores
LHP Gio Gonzalez

RAYS (38-30)
Lineup TBA
LHP Matt Moore

UMPIRES
HP Cory Blaser, 1B Chris Guccione, 2B Tim Tschida (cc), 3B Jeff Nelson

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Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

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Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3

ATLANTA -- Josh Donaldson's bases-loaded single off Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning lifted the Atlanta Braves over the Washington Nationals 4-3 on Friday night after Luke Jackson allowed a tying, two-run homer to Victor Robles in the top half.

Ronald Acuna Jr., who had three hits, led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk off Rodney (0-3) and took second on Dansby Swanson's single. Freddie Freeman walked on four pitches, loading the bases.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez brought in left fielder Juan Soto as a fifth infielder, including three on the left side against the right-handed hitting Donaldson.

Donaldson hit a 2-0 pitch over Robles to center-field warning track, and the Braves boosted their NL East lead to 6 games over the second-place Nationals. Atlanta had lost its previous five home games against Washington.

Robles' homer went 446 feet to left, giving Jackson his seventh blown save in 24 chances.

Julio Teheran gave up one hit through five scoreless innings and retired 14 consecutive hitters before pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra singled with one out in the sixth. Anthony Rendon chased Teheran with a two-out RBI single.

Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin couldn't win on his 30th birthday while paired with catcher Yan Gomes, who turned 32. Corbin and Gomes became only the second pitcher-catcher tandem to start together on their birthdays since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Chicago Cubs pitcher Dave Hillman and catcher Jim Fanning did it against Pittsburgh on Sept. 14, 1957.

Corbin allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out Ozzie Albies with the bases loaded in the first and fanned Albies to end the fifth with two out.

Albies hit a two-out double in the fourth and scored on Austin Riley's double. Freeman was 2 for 20 in his career against Corbin before his RBI single in the fifth.

Acuna's RBI double against Tanner Rainey gave the Braves a 3-1 lead.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer, on the 10-day IL since July 10 with an injury originally announced as a mid-back strain, was given a cortisone shot on Tuesday to address inflammation in the bursa sac under his right shoulder blade. Scherzer still has some discomfort and must throw a bullpen session before cleared to pitch in a game. With Scherzer unavailable, RHP Austin Voth is expected to start in Sunday night's series finale.

Braves: RHP Patrick Weigel, who had Tommy John surgery in 2017, was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to make his major league debut Saturday. RHP Wes Parsons also was recalled from Gwinnett. RHPs Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint were optioned to Gwinnett.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-6, 3.71) is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts this season against the Braves, his former team.

Braves: Rookie RHP Mike Soroka (10-1, 2.24) will try to win his sixth straight decision on Saturday night. The 21-year-old right-hander became the youngest pitcher in franchise history to be selected an All-Star.

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Nationals to introduce 'Kids Eat Free' program for the rest of the summer

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Nationals to introduce 'Kids Eat Free' program for the rest of the summer

What's better than spending a summer evening at a baseball game? Spending a summer evening at a baseball game and getting free food, that's what!

From July 22 to September 2, the Nationals are introducing a "Kids Eat Free" program, allowing any member of the Jr. Nats Kids Club age 12 or under to get a free meal at a Nats home game.

The meal includes a hot dog, the choice of chips or applesauce, and a soda or bottled water. According to the Nats, the meal is a $17 value. 

“We’re trying to find ways to make our experience as family-friendly as possible,” Nationals EVP of business operations Jake Burns told Front Office Sports. “This idea was borne out of brainstorming of things we could do to get families in the door or provide a better experience to existing families, and we found a way to attract new fans to the ballpark and strengthen the relationship with those existing fans.” 

Take your kids out to the ballpark, folks. You get to introduce them to America's pastime and save some money!

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