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Instant Analysis: Nats club Cubbies

Instant Analysis: Nats club Cubbies

Game in a nutshell: On the first day of school for many in the region, the Nationals took the Cubs' beleaguered pitching staff to school. They crushed six home runs, racked up 19 hits, knocked rookie starter Chris Rusin out before he recorded an out in the bottom of the second and then feasted on the cavalcade of relievers Dale Sveum sent to the mound. Edwin Jackson wasn't in top form, but he struck out eight batters and made it through 5 23 innings to earn his ninth win. The rest was fairly academic, with the Nationals bullpen finishing this game off and putting them 31 games over .500 to match their high-point of the season. With the Braves' loss to the Rockies, the Nats now lead the NL East by a season-high 7 12 games. Their magic number for the division title is down to 20.

Hitting highlight: How do you pick just one highlight from an offensive explosion like this? How about we pick six: the six home runs the Nationals hit against a merry-go-round of Cubs pitchers. Ian Desmond went opposite-field in the first for his 20th of the season. Jesus Flores found the Red Porch in the second for his fifth of the season. Adam LaRoche also deposited one in the Red Porch for his 26th of the season (and third in four days). Tyler Moore followed two batters later with a moonshot to left for his eighth of the year. Ryan Zimmerman went opposite-field for his 18th this year. And LaRoche put the finishing touches on this explosive night with his second of the game, fourth in four days, 27th of the year. Put it all together and you've got history: The first time a D.C. ballclub has ever hit six home runs in a home game.

Pitching highlight: No disrespect to Jackson, who was dominant at times (striking out five in a row at one point), but let's show some love here to Christian Garcia. Making his major-league debut at age 27, the two-time Tommy John surgery survivor faced only one batter and threw only three pitches. But those three pitches were mighty impressive. Each registered at least 95 mph. And the last of them induced a pop-up to quash a potential Cubs rally in the sixth inning. Sure, it was a short debut, but it certainly was a sweet debut for a guy who worked tirelessly to get the opportunity.

Key stat: In 27 games since he returned from the disabled list, Jayson Werth has scored 22 runs. Over a 162-game season, that would equate to 132 runs.

Up next: Gio Gonzalez will be seeking his 18th win of the season tomorrow night when he goes up against Cubs right-hander Chris Volstad at 7:05 p.m.

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

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USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

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NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.

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Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

As you would expect a first-place NL East team to do, the Atlanta Braves bounced back to even the series with Washington Friday night inside SunTrust Park. Josh Donaldson erased Victor Robles' game-tying, two-run home run with his walk-off single in the ninth. Atlanta improved to 59-40 and increased its lead over the Nationals to 6.5 games with a 4-3 final. 

Consider these notes as Washington grinds through a pivotal series in Atlanta: 

Player Notes:

Washington's first-year lefty didn't have his best stuff going Friday night in Atlanta. Patrick Corbin tossed just five innings allowing eight hits, two runs, two walks on 100 pitches. He struck out five Braves on his 30th birthday. 

The Nationals' third baseman has brought new meaning to the word 'consistency' all year long in his first season as an All-Star. Two games into this four-game series in Atlanta, Anthony Rendon has five hits, a walk, and 2 RBI.  

Victor Robles brought the fireworks in the ninth at SunTrust Park. The 22-year-old delivered a game-tying, two-run home run off Luke Jackson. The long-ball traveled a whopping 446 feet. 

The Fernando Rodney experience was alive and well. Davey Martinez made the questionable decision to bring his 42-year-old back out in the ninth for a second consecutive inning. It backfired. Just 14 of his 32 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Injuries: 

SP Max Scherzer: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 25

RP Jonny Venters: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

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 26

Coming Up:

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

Sunday 7/21: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Monday 7/22: Nationals vs. Rockies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park 

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