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Instant analysis: Nats 3, Rays 2

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Instant analysis: Nats 3, Rays 2

Game in a nutshell: First of all, rest assured there were no pine tar incidents in this one. Just a clean, well-played ballgame featuring a couple of dominant pitching performances. Stephen Strasburg's dominance (seven innings of two-run, 10-strikeout ball) was expected. Chris Archer's dominance (he retired the last 11 batters he faced in his big-league debut) was not. In the end, the three runs the Nats scored in the first inning held up the entire way. Strasburg made it through seven innings on 111 pitches, then turned things over to Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard to close it out and snap the Nationals' four-game losing streak. Oh, and Joel Peralta did manage to retire two batters out of the Tampa Bay bullpen without getting ejected.

Hitting highlight: There weren't many to choose from, since the Nationals scored three runs in the bottom of the first and then did nothing after that. But that early rally did feature a couple of impressive at-bats. It began with Steve Lombardozzi's leadoff double, with the rookie showing off some nice hustle. It continued with Bryce Harper's RBI single to center, with the rookie hustling to advance to second on the throw home. And it concluded with Ian Desmond's two-out RBI single to left. Desmond now has 35 RBI for the season, second only to Adam LaRoche on the roster.

Pitching highlight: Strasburg would probably say he didn't have his very best stuff tonight. Amazing what the guy can still do without it. Though he served up a homer to Jose Molina in the second and then gave up another run in the third on back-to-back two-out hits, Strasburg wound up notching the sixth double-digit strikeout start of his young career. And most impressively, he dialed things up a notch to finish off his night. The right-hander's 111th pitch of the game was a 98 mph fastball blown past Desmond Jennings for his 10th strikeout. People have often tried to compare Strasburg to Justin Verlander. Well, that final inning was a good example. Verlander is known for ratcheting up his fastball a few extra miles per hour in his final inning, and Strasburg showed he could do that, too.

Key stat: Archer walked 5.3 batters per nine innings this season at Class AAA Durham. The Nats managed to draw only one free pass off the rookie over six innings.

Up next: This emotionally charged series concludes Thursday night when a pair of really talented, young left-handers squares off. It'll be Gio Gonzalez for the Nationals, Matt Moore for the Rays at 7:05 p.m.

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Nationals trade Brian Goodwin to Kansas City Royals

Nationals trade Brian Goodwin to Kansas City Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  -- Outfielder Brian Goodwin has been acquired by the Kansas City Royals from the Washington Nationals for minor league pitcher Jacob Condra-Bogan.

The 27-year-old Goodwin hit .200 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 48 games for the Nationals this season. He bruised his left wrist diving for a ball and did not play from April 15 until May 15, when he had two at-bats. He went back on the disabled list, returned June 1 and is hitting .171 (7 for 41) since.

Condra-Bogan, 23, went 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 16 relief outings with Lexington of the South Atlantic League and one appearance with Wilmington of the Carolina League, also Class A.

The trade was announced Sunday.

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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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