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Instant analysis: Nats 6, Giants 5

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Instant analysis: Nats 6, Giants 5

Game in a nutshell: On Turn Back the Clock night, the Nationals and Giants staged a tense battle not all that unlike Game 7 of the 1924 World Series. Right down to the home team rallying to win in walk-off fashion. Ross Detwiler labored through five innings and was probably lucky to escape allowing only three runs. Matt Cain, meanwhile, was in complete control for six innings, baffling the Nationals' hitters with his impressive arsenal. All of a sudden, though, the Nats lineup came to life in the bottom of the seventh, with Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa clubbing back-to-back homers and Bryce Harper delivering a two-out, RBI double to cut the Giants' lead to one. It remained a 5-4 game into the bottom of the ninth, at which point the Nationals staged their winning rally off closer Santiago Casilla. Tyler Moore kicked things off with a double to deep left-center. Casilla then couldn't field Steve Lombardozzi's sacrifice bunt attempt. Harper grounded into a forceout at the plate, and Adam LaRoche grounded into what looked like a 4-6-3 double play. But Brandon Crawford's relay bounced and Brandon Belt couldn't make the scoop. Harper came in to score and the Nationals pulled off a wild, 6-5 victory.

Hitting highlight: Say this for Harper: He battles through at-bats with the best of them, even if it doesn't always result in a hit. The rookie fouled off five straight 2-2 pitches from Cain in the bottom of the sixth, ultimately grounding out but drawing several ovations from the crowd of 29,819 which appreciated the effort. One inning later, Harper came up to bat against tough lefty Jeremy Affeldt in a big spot with two on and two out. He was called for a borderline check swing with a 2-0 count, but brushed it off and roped an opposite-field double on the next pitch to drive in a key run. Then he did it again in the bottom of the ninth, sending a run-scoring single to right off Santiago Casilla to lead the game-winning rally.

Pitching lowlight: It was a strange night for Detwiler, who only gave up a handful of hard-hit balls yet gave up 11 base hits. Many of them were groundballs that found holes. Detwiler didn't pitch particularly well, but he did come through with some big outs when he needed them. In the end, the best thing the left-hander did was make it through five innings having allowed only three runs. On a night like this, that actually was something of a minor miracle.

Key stat: The teams with baseball's best records in 1924: the Giants, Nationals, Dodgers, Pirates and Yankees. The teams with baseball's best records in 2012 (entering tonight): the Rangers, Yankees, Nationals, Pirates, Dodgers and Giants.

Up next: The final series of the season's first half begins Friday night when the Rockies come to town. Stephen Strasburg faces lefty Drew Pomeranz at 7:05 p.m.

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Stephen Strasburg makes history at the plate against Atlanta

Stephen Strasburg makes history at the plate against Atlanta

Stephen Strasburg had the best hitting performance of his career against the Braves Thursday night, going 3-3 at the plate with two singles and a 420-foot three-run bomb. 

He didn't just set personal records but reached rare air in baseball history. He's the second pitcher ever with at least three hits, a HR, and five RBI since the DH debuted in 1973 and the fifth pitcher in the last 50 seasons to get two hits in an inning including a home run. 

Strasburg set franchise firsts with his performance, dating all the way back to the Expos. 

An extraordinary milestone for the Nationals' ace, hopefully Strasburg's performance will inspire the team during a crucial four-game series with Atlanta. 

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Nationals Roundup: Strasburg shines in Nationals' blowout of Braves

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NBC Sports Washington

Nationals Roundup: Strasburg shines in Nationals' blowout of Braves

In the first contest of a momentous four-game series, the Nationals trounced the Braves by a score of 13-4 behind Stephen Strasburg's historic performance. The Nationals improved to 51-44 and have the best record in baseball since May 24th

Here's the pertinent news to consider as the Nationals attempt to close the gap with division-leading Atlanta.  

Players News: 

Stephen Strasburg was effective as usual on the mound, but his performance at the plate was all anyone could talk about. He went 3-3 with two singles and a 420-foot bomb, becoming the second pitcher since 1973 to record three hits, a HR, and five RBIs in a game. In addition, he tossed 5 2/3 innings of three-run ball and registered his NL-leading 12th win of the season. 

Adam Eaton opened the scoring with an RBI triple to plate Stephen Strasburg, the first of eight runs in the third inning. In 91 games, he's batting .283/.365/.391 with six home runs and 24 RBI as one of many unsung heroes of the Nationals' hot streak. 

Anthony Rendon went 3-5 on the day, knocking in Adam Eaton with a double to deep center to give the Nats a 2-1 lead in the third inning. In the five games since the All-Star game, Rendon is batting .421/.522/.579 with three doubles. 

Injuries:

SP Max Scherzer: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Jonny Venters: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 18

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Aug 25

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 16

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, Expected to be out until at least Aug 7

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 17

Coming Up: 

Friday 7/19: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Saturday 7/20: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Sunday 7/21: Nationals at Braves, 7:05 p.m. SunTrust Park

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