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Instant analysis: Nats 6, Blue Jays 2

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Instant analysis: Nats 6, Blue Jays 2

Game in a nutshell: With an opportunity to sweep their second consecutive series in an AL park and complete the first 6-0 road trip in team history, the Nationals left little to chance. They pounced on the Blue Jays early and then blasted their way to another convincing victory, thanks to a surprise contributor: rookie Tyler Moore, who clubbed two homers and a double and drove in five runs. Ian Desmond also homered for for a Nationals team that launched eight home runs during this three-game series. Stephen Strasburg happily accepted the offensive support, tossing six innings of two-run ball to improve to 8-1 for the season and finish off a fabulous road trip in style.

Hitting highlight: Moore earned his promotion to the major leagues by crushing home runs left and right in the minors, including 31 each of the last two seasons. But he had yet to connect in his limited opportunities in the big leagues. Until today. Getting his first chance to start at first base with Adam LaRoche given a day off, Moore showed off his power in a big way. He delivered his first career homer in the fourth (a two-run blast to left) and then hammered a solo shot to center in the sixth. Throw in his two-run double in the second, and Moore wound up driving in the Nationals' first five runs of the day.

Pitching highlight: Five days after his 119-pitch, 13-strikeout effort in Boston, there was some question what Strasburg would have left in the tank this afternoon. Turns out he had more than enough to turn in another quality start. The right-hander did serve up a homer to Jose Bautista in the third inning, but he rebounded to retire 10 of the last 12 batters he faced. At only 89 pitches through the sixth, Strasburg could have returned for another inning -- and he certainly appeared to want to come back out -- but Davey Johnson decided not to take any chances and pulled his ace after a perfectly acceptable, eight-strikeout performance.

Key stat: Strasburg has now made 30 career starts in the big leagues, roughly the equivalent of a full season. His totals: a 14-5 record, 2.50 ERA, 169 innings, 131 hits, 216 strikeouts and 39 walks.

Up next: After a day off following their wildly successful road trip, the Nationals open one of the biggest homestands in team history when the Yankees and Rays come to town. Gio Gonzalez faces Phil Hughes in Friday's 7:05 p.m. series opener against New York at Nationals Park.

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Nationals look to avoid sweep against Phillies on Sunday night

Nationals look to avoid sweep against Phillies on Sunday night

WASHINGTON -- Having already won their first series at Nationals Park since April 2016, the Philadelphia Phillies will go for the sweep of Washington on Sunday night.

Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (4-6, 4.08 ERA) faces Nationals right-hander Jefry Rodriguez (0-0, 4.66).

Pivetta was drafted by the Nationals in 2013 and went to the Phillies in 2015 as part of the Jonathan Papelbon trade.

After struggling for three straight starts -- giving up 13 runs in 14 innings -- Pivetta allowed two runs and four hits in 7 1/3 innings of a no-decision against the St. Louis Cardinals last time out, striking out a career-high 13 batters.

"That's some of the best stuff I've seen him have all year," catcher Andrew Knapp told mlb.com. "The curveball was electric."

Pivetta got 11 swings and misses with the curveball.

"It was nice to have it back," Pivetta told mlb.com. "It all started with my delivery. I was staying up through it, not trying to rush too much and it worked out."

It his first start -- and second big-league appearance -- the 24-year-old Rodriguez picked up a win against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. He allowed five runs, four hits and three walks in five innings.

Rodriguez and Satuday's losing pitcher, Erick Fedde, are filling in for injured starters Stephen Strasburg and Jeremy Hellickson.

The Phillies have outscored the Nationals 17-5 in the fist two games of the series. On Saturday, Maikel Franco had four hits and Carlos Santana homered to back Aaron Nola in a 5-3 victory.

"That was just a tremendous all-around baseball game," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said of Franco. "It's so interesting how we've been looking for him to be not just a hitter but a defender and a baserunner and an all-around athlete."

Franco drove in a run and scored twice, including the go-ahead run when he scored just ahead of the tag on Jesmuel Valentin's sacrifice fly.

The Phillies, who have won six of seven, pounded out double-digit hits for the second day in a row in Washington.

"They have a lot of patient hitters," Fedde said of the Phillies. "I think that's what makes it tough. Guys aren't swinging at bunch of junk, so you have to attack them."

The Phillies have now won four straight series for the first time since May 2016 and are 2-0 in what will be a stretch of 10 games against the Nationals and the New York Yankees.

Anthony Rendon homered and Daniel Murphy had a two-run single for Washington, which has lost three of four while scoring nine runs.

"Look, I've got all the confidence in the world we're going to start hitting," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We'll start scoring some runs. Right now, the bullpen is a little beat up. We've got to get them going again."

Rendon is doing his part. In his las 15 games, he is batting .382 with seven doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs.

Hellickson (right groin strain) will make a rehab start Sunday for Class A Potomac and then is expected to rejoin the Nationals' rotation.

Hernandez said first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (right oblique strain) is about a week from beginning a rehab assignment.

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Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

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USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

It’s happening.

When the 2018 All-Star Weekend comes to Washington, D.C. in the middle of July, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will compete in the 2018 Home Run Derby, but only on one condition: He has to be a member of the 2018 National League All-Star Team.

Though Harper is having a down year, only hitting .213 thus far, he leads the NL in home runs with 19.

In the June 18 update of All-Star game voting, Harper sat second among all outfielders with just north of 1,000,000 votes.

That means he’s not only going to make the All-Star team, but he’ll likely start in the outfield.

Harper, a five-time All-Star, competed in the Home Run Derby once before. He was the runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes in 2013, losing by just one long ball, 9-8.

The 2018 Home Run Derby will take place on July 16 at Nationals Park.

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