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Instant analysis: Nats 8, Cardinals 1

Instant analysis: Nats 8, Cardinals 1

Game in a nutshell: Having exorcised their demons after a five-game losing streak, the Nationals came home a relaxed and loose bunch, ready to open a season-long, 11-game homestand. Then they went out and thumped the defending World Series champions with an impressive top-to-bottom effort. Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper each homered to ignite the lineup, and Edwin Jackson took care of everything else after that. The right-hander did not allow an earned run over eight spectacular innings, striking out 10 and earning his eighth win in the process. With that lopsided victory, the Nationals improved to 28 games over .500. And with the Braves off, they extended their lead in the NL East to 5 12 games.

Hitting highlight: When they're both going well, Werth and Harper give the Nationals as potent a 1-2 punch atop their lineup as perhaps any team in baseball. They did it all tonight, with Werth reaching base three times via a walk, a single and a homer (and also driving in another run on a fielder's choice) and Harper launching his third homer in 24 hours plus drilling a two-out, RBI single in the sixth. Werth has been nothing short of remarkable since his return from a broken wrist. In 25 games now, the veteran right fielder is hitting .337 with a .408 on-base percentage and .478 slugging percentage. Not too shabby for a leadoff hitter.

Pitching highlight: Jackson would certainly have been justified if he took the mound tonight with a little added motivation. Facing the team he helped lead to a World Series title last fall (but didn't show any serious interest in re-signing him over the winter) the right-hander authored perhaps his best performance of the season. Jackson struck out three batters in the top of the first and never let up, finishing with 10 punch-outs while racking up 123 pitches over eight innings. It was a big-time start against the best-hitting lineup in the NL.

Key stat: Jackson's ninth strikeout of the night was the 1,069th by a Nationals pitcher this season. That established a new club record, besting the total set by the 2010 pitching staff over a full 162 games.

Up next: Game 2 of this four-game series features a big-time pitching matchup. Gio Gonzalez again seeks his 17th win of the season, with former 20-game winner Adam Wainwright on the mound for St. Louis at 7:05 p.m. Friday.

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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.