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Instant analysis: Brewers 6, Nats 2

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Instant analysis: Brewers 6, Nats 2

Game in a nutshell: Forced to use Chien-Ming Wang in a spot start due to a doubleheader earlier in the week, the Nationals couldn't complain about the performance turned in by the oft-injured right-hander, who at least gave them a chance to win. In fact, the game was tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh before everything fell apart via a flurry of weak hits, intentional walks and flyballs lost in the sun. Thus a ragged ballgame turned into a ragged loss for the Nationals, who have now seen their lead in the NL East drop to 4 12 games. They've still got 10 games to play; the Braves only have nine to play. The magic number to clinch the division remains at 6.

Hitting lowlight: The Nationals had some great scoring opportunities, especially early on. But they took advantage only once, when Chad Tracy came off the bench to deliver an RBI single in the top of the fifth and Werth followed with a sacrifice fly. Otherwise, the Nationals missed their chances. They hit into inning-ending double plays in the second, third and fourth innings. And they stranded the bases loaded in the sixth. Bryce Harper, in particular, had a rough day, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a killer, 6-4-3 double play.

Fielding lowlight: We usually reserve this spot for a pitching highlight or lowlight, but the bigger story today was what happened behind the Nationals' pitching staff. Or, more importantly, what happened high in the sky behind home plate. With a bright sun shining down on the field, Harper and Jayson Werth each let routine flyballs fall in for gift base hits, each of them helping the Brewers score runs. This was a problem on the last homestand, and you've got to think it's going to continue being a problem in October should MLB schedule any late-afternoon playoff games here. The sun wasn't the Nationals' only fielding problem today, though. Both Harper and Steve Lombardozzi were charged with errors in the top of the eighth, leading to another run to cap a sloppy afternoon for a team that has typically played flawlessly in the field this season.

Key stat: Today's paid attendance was 33,111. It was the ninth time the Nationals and Redskins have played simultaneous home games over the last eight years. The Nats' average attendance in those games: 29,802.

Up next: This series isn't over yet, folks. The Brewers are sticking around town and will return tomorrow afternoon for a fourth game in this wraparound series. Jordan Zimmermann and former National Marco Estrada square off at 1:05 p.m.

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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.