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Instant Analysis: Johnson dominates in Marlins win

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Instant Analysis: Johnson dominates in Marlins win

Game in a nutshell: Retaking the field only 25 minutes after earning a 7-4 victory in the first half of this doubleheader, the Nationals had an opportunity to improve to 22 games over .500 for the first time since the franchise arrived in town and gain some ground on the Braves in the NL East. Instead, they were shut down by a dominant Josh Johnson, who went 8 23 innings and nearly went the distance, ultimately handing it off to Steve Cishek to record the final out. The Nationals' only runs came in the first and then the ninth. In between, they barely threatened against Johnson. Gio Gonzalez was equally as effective most of the night, but the left-hander was done in by a three-run sixth inning, which proved all the offense the Marlins needed to salvage a doubleheader split. The Nats' lead in the NL East is now down to two games.

Hitting lowlight: Remember when Danny Espinosa was on fire at the plate and appeared to have turned his entire season around? Well, he's fallen back into another slump, and the results haven't been pretty. He's now 3 for his last 37, with 17 strikeouts in the process. His 124 strikeouts for the season lead the NL. And it appears the loop in his left-handed swing has returned. The Nationals may need Espinosa to lead off down the stretch after Ian Desmond returns from the DL and bumps Steve Lombardozzi to the bench. But the way he's going at the plate right now, Davey Johnson might not be able to afford to do that.

Pitching highlight: If you look at the final numbers (four runs, nine hits) this doesn't look like a dominant start from Gonzalez. But the final numbers are misleading because three of the runs and five of the hits came in the sixth inning alone. Gonzalez was otherwise brilliant, striking out 10 without walking a batter and keeping his pitch count low enough that there was no question he would take the mound for the eighth inning for the first time this season. The night didn't end well for the lefty, though. After Jose Reyes scored from second base on a grounder to short, Gonzalez turned around and appeared to yell at Espinosa for not looking the runner back around third and preventing him from scoring. For a guy who is normally the consummate teammate, that was not a shining moment for Gonzalez.

Key stat: With a fifth-inning double, Michael Morse extended his hitting streak to 12 games. That's the longest of his career.

Up next: After what surely will be a good night's sleep, these two teams return to the park at 7:05 p.m. tomorrow. Jordan Zimmermann looks for his 20th quality start in 22 tries against Mark Buehrle, who dominated the Nationals in Miami last month.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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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.