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Instant analysis: Marlins 2, Nats 1

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Instant analysis: Marlins 2, Nats 1

Game in a nutshell: This figured to be tightly contested pitchers' duel, with lefties Gio Gonzalez and Mark Buehrle each known for working fast and throwing strikes. Each starter lived up to the billing, but Buehrle was just a little bit better than his counterpart. The veteran southpaw allowed one run over seven innings, throwing a scant 86 pitches in the process. Gonzalez certainly pitched well enough to win -- two runs over six innings -- but he was done in by some effective small ball by the Marlins in the bottom of the fifth, producing the winning run.

The Nats couldn't get a rally going against Miami's suspect bullpen and thus suffered a frustrating loss. Combined with the Braves' win over the Mets, their lead in the NL East is now down to 3 games.

Hitting lowlight: Just when you thought Michael Morse had rediscovered his peak form from last year, he stumbles out of the gates to open the second half. For the second straight night, the cleanup hitter went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, two of them called. Morse is at his best when he's able to drive outside pitches to right field. In these last two games, he hasn't been able to pull the trigger on those offerings, and he's paid the price for it.

Pitching highlight: It didn't take long to realize Gonzalez was going to be in top form for this game. His command was pinpoint (he didn't walk a batter) and his curveball had ridiculous break. It helped that umpire Eric Cooper consistently gave him the outside corner of the strike zone, but kuods to Gonzalez for taking advantage of it. He wound up striking out nine and at 93 pitches probably could have returned for the seventh inning. Manager Davey Johnson, though, said he wanted to take things easy on the lefty after he pitched an inning in the All-Star Game four days ago.

Key stat: Buehrle needed only 26 total pitches to face 11 Nationals batters through the first three innings.

Up next: Fresh off his All-Star debut, Stephen Strasburg returns to the mound for his first start of the second half. He'll face Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco at 1:10 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.