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Maddon, Johnson ignite war of words

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Maddon, Johnson ignite war of words

The Great Pine Tar Incident of 2012 is over as far as Davey Johnson and Joe Maddon are concerned. The war of words between the two big-league managers, on the other hand, is just heating up.

One day after Rays reliever Joel Peralta was ejected before throwing a pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning for having an excessive amount of pine tar in his glove, the attention shifted to the two veteran managers, who traded verbal insults via the media and turned this already spicy story even hotter.

Following Tuesday night's game, Maddon directed his anger at Johnson, saying his counterpart's decision to have umpires check Peralta's glove based on information he got from the pitcher's ex-teammates with the Nationals was "real cowardly" and "kind of a wuss move."

Asked for his response on Wednesday, Johnson started off in a cordial manner, keeping his focus on the actual incident.

"My only comment to him is: 'Read the rule book,'" Johnson said. "It's simple. I've been involved in every conceivable kind of thing you can think of about players trying to get an edge mentally or physically, and that's part of the game. When somebody goes a little overboard, you call it out. It's that simple."

Except it wasn't nearly that simple, and Johnson didn't stop there. He turned the conversation into a back-and-forth with his fellow manager.

Asked if he might try to talk to Maddon about the whole matter, Johnson said: "No, I didn't know him that well, but I thought he was a weird wuss anyway. I understand where he's coming from. His job as a manager is to protect the players. Striking out at whoever he thinks is causing your players any grievance. So I understand where he's coming from. But he doesn't know me from a hole in the hill. Or I him, for that matter. But I do know the rule book, and I do try to follow it."

Johnson also took shots at Maddon's presence on Twitter and made a crack about his perceived intellectual superiority. (Maddon received an honorary doctorate from Lafayette University in 2010, decades after he dropped out of school to pursue his baseball career.)

"I looked him up on the internet and found out he has a tweeter, so he can get to more people than me," Johnson said. "And so I don't want to get in a shouting match with him. He's got a bigger following. But it was interesting reading. You can tell him I have a doctorate of letters, too. Mine's from Loyola, in humanities, and I'm proud of that, too."

Told that Johnson mentioned his "tweeter," Maddon paused and then shot back.

"Um, most men have tweeters," he said. "And I would never use my tweeter for an advantage."

Maddon's biggest beef appears not to be the fact Peralta was caught and ejected but that the whole thing happened only because someone in the Nationals clubhouse who was teammates with the right-hander in 2010 tipped off Johnson about his pine tar use, and that Johnson then used that background information in the game.

Maddon felt that was a major violation of baseball etiquette and suggested the rest of the sport would take notice and develop a negative opinion of the Nationals organization because of it.

"This is one of their former children here that had really performed well, and all the sudden ... he's going to come back to this town and they're going to rat on him based on some insider information, insider trading, whatever," Maddon said. "So if I'm a major-league player, in the very near future to want to come to play for the Nationals, I'd have to think twice about it."

Major League Baseball rules mandate that any pitcher found with a foreign substance is subject to a mandatory suspension, but the league hasn't ruled yet on this case, so Peralta remains active and available to pitch tonight.

Maddon added he wouldn't hesitate to use Peralta in this game if the right situation arose.

Despite the back and forth between managers, it's not all bad blood between the two sides. Maddon spent several minutes during batting practice chatting with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, a conversation that ended with smiles and a pat on the back.

Maddon was Rizzo's manager when the latter played in the Angels' farm system three decades ago.

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Can slumping Nationals, Gio Gonzalez end losing streak Monday vs. Padres?

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Can slumping Nationals, Gio Gonzalez end losing streak Monday vs. Padres?

When the Washington Nationals visited San Diego on May 7-9, they won the first two games of a three-game series to move within 1 1/2 games of the National League West lead.

At the time, the Nationals were on a bit of a run and the Padres were reeling with a 13-24 record.

Two weeks after that series, the Padres and Nationals meet again in Washington, D.C (7:05 p.m. ET, Monday). And the fortunes of the two teams have changed a bit.

Since winning that series finale at Petco Park to avoid being swept by the Nationals, the Padres have gone 7-4 and are riding a three-game winning streak.

The Nationals have gone 4-4 and just lost a third straight game to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday in Washington to slip four games off the lead in their division.

The Nationals are the home team this time for a three-game series that opens Monday night with a matchup of left-handers -- Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 2.36 ERA) going for Washington with Robbie Erlin (1-2, 3.46) making a spot start for San Diego.

On paper, the pairing clearly favors the hosts.

Erlin, 27, has met the Nationals twice in his career. Both games were at Nationals Park. Erlin is 0-2 in the matchups with a 16.39 ERA.

In Erlin's two previous outings in the nation's capital, Erlin has given up 17 runs, 19 hits and six walks with six strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings. The Nationals have hit .413 against Erlin, who has a 2.68 WHIP against Washington.

This will be only the second start of the season for Erlin, who returned this year after having Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery midway through 2016.

Thirteen of Erlin's 14 appearances this season have been out of the bullpen. His one previous start was April 16 against the Dodgers. He gave up six runs (five earned), seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts in three innings.

Erlin is filling the vacancy created when rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi went on the disabled list with a slightly strained glute. The Padres are hoping Lucchesi will miss only one start, although it looks like it could now be two or three.

Gonzalez is no stranger to the Padres. He started the May 9 game that the Nationals lost 2-1. Gonzalez allowed one run, five hits and three walks in six innings. Afterward, he said he struggled with his command.

Gonzalez was not involved in that decision. During his career, he has made seven starts against the Padres and has a 3-2 record with a 3.21 ERA, a 1.357 WHIP and a .253 opponents' batting average. Against the Padres, Gonzalez has given up 19 runs (15 earned), 41 hits and 16 walks with 41 strikeouts in 42 innings.

When the Nationals were in San Diego, first baseman-left fielder Matt Adams went 3-for-8 with a double, two homers, six RBIs and three runs scored -- although he got the third game off.

Since leaving San Diego, Adams has hit only .143. Washington's Bryce Harper is hitting .125 in the last eight games with a homer and three RBIs.

Another key player in the first Padres-Nationals series was Howie Kendrick, who was 5-for-12 with a double and two runs scored. But Kendrick has been lost with a ruptured Achilles tendon and on Saturday the Nationals promoted a 19-year-old prospect from Double-A.

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

WASHINGTON  -- Kike Hernandez and Yasiel Puig each hit two-run homers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez's blast off Stephen Strasburg in the fifth inning put the Dodgers up 3-2. Yasmani Grandal also homered off Strasburg (5-4), who allowed three runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

Alex Wood (1-4) pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs. Wood came out to start the seventh, but returned to the clubhouse after showing some discomfort during his warm-up tosses.

Trea Turner homered for Washington, which swept Arizona last weekend and then went five days without playing a full game because of rain before getting swept by the Dodgers.

Los Angeles, after losing six consecutive games, has now won four straight overall and five of six over Washington this season.

Washington's Juan Soto, at 19 the youngest active player in the majors, made his debut in the eighth as a pinch-hitter and struck out against Erik Goeddel.

The Dodgers added two runs in the ninth. Josh Fields recorded the final four outs for his second save of the season.

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.