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Instant analysis: Nats 4, Red Sox 3

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Instant analysis: Nats 4, Red Sox 3

Game in a nutshell: Without Bryce Harper in the starting lineup (held out with tightness in his lower back) the Nationals jumped out to a quick lead thanks to Danny Espinosa's game-opening double off the Green Monster. Their bats went silent after that against Jon Lester, and the Red Sox rallied to take the lead on David Ortiz's fourth-inning homer off Jordan Zimmermann. Espinosa put the Nationals back on top in the top of the seventh, thanks to a 310-foot double that just reached the big Wall in left, only to watch as Zimmermann gave the run right back in the bottom of the inning and leave the game tied. And then who happened to come up to pinch-hit in the top of the ninth and draw a key walk? None other than Harper. Two batters later, Roger Bernadina roped a double down the right-field line and Harper came all the way around to score the run that gave the Nats a 4-3 win and a series sweep at Fenway Park.
Hitting highlight: Harper was none too pleased about being held out of the lineup, but after taking batting practice in the cage pregame, he convinced Davey Johnson he could come off the bench if needed. Was he ever. Pinch-hitting for Tyler Moore in the top of the ninth in a tie game, Harper laid off three straight curveballs from Aceves and drew the walk that ignited the game-winning rally. Then he bolted for second on Aceves' 2-2 pitch to Bernadina and never let up, racing all the way around the bases and sliding into the plate with the winning run.
Pitching highlight: What to make of Zimmermann's start? The end result (three runs over seven innings) looks solid, but that doesn't tell the entire story. Zimmermann was handed an early lead in the first and couldn't hold it, giving up a run in the third and another in the fourth (on David Ortiz's homer). Then after his teammates rallied to retake the lead in the top of the seventh, he gave it right back in the bottom of the inning. This has been something of a recurring problem for Zimmermann, who has had trouble finishing off his starts.
Key stat: Zimmermann has pitched in 12 games now, 10 of them quality starts. Only Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (11) has more among all major-league pitchers this season.
Up next: The Nationals' march through the AL East continues Monday, north of the border when the former Montreal Expos meet the current Toronto Blue Jays. Edwin Jackson gets the start against right-hander Brandon Morrow at 7:07 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.