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Morse homers Nats past Astros

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Morse homers Nats past Astros

HOUSTON (AP) -- Michael Morse homered twice, Jordan Zimmermann matched his career high with 11 strikeouts and the Washington Nationals completed a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros with a 5-0 victory Thursday night. Morse drove in three runs and extended his hitting streak to a career-best 18 games, the longest active string in the majors after Miami's Jose Reyes was stopped at 26 games earlier in the day. Zimmermann (9-6) pitched six innings of three-hit ball before three relievers finished Washington's seventh shutout of the season. The NL East-leading Nationals have won six in a row and own baseball's best record at 69-43. Adam LaRoche drove in a run in the fourth inning before a sacrifice fly by Morse made it 2-0. Morse's towering shot to left made it 3-0 in the sixth. He sent his second home run the opposite way to the seats in right field in the eighth for his fourth career multihomer game. Zimmermann walked none in his first win over Houston in four outings. Michael Gonzalez, Sean Burnett and Drew Storen completed the five-hitter. It was the 11th time this season the Astros were shut out and the first since July 20. Lucas Harrell (9-8) yielded five hits and two runs with five walks in five innings as Houston dropped its fifth straight. Zimmermann had retired seven straight, including striking out the side in the fifth, before Marwin Gonzalez singled with one out in the sixth. The right-hander got right back on track after that, fanning Steve Pearce and Justin Maxwell to end the inning. Roger Bernadina singled to open the fourth before Ryan Zimmerman walked to set up LaRoche's RBI single. Morse's sacrifice fly added a run, but Harrell was able to limit the damage after that thanks in part to Maxwell robbing Jayson Werth of a hit by racing up Tal's Hill in center field to make a great catch. Harrell needed 32 pitches to get through that inning, however, and was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fifth. Morse's first homer was off Mickey Storey, and Fernando Rodriguez gave up the second one. Washington added a run on Zimmerman's sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. NOTES: Nationals manager Davey Johnson gave rookie Bryce Harper a night off after he went 0 for 11 in the first three games of the series. Johnson said Harper will be back in the lineup Friday. "He's an intense competitor and sometimes, just like all young players, their emotions kind of get in the way of their ability sometimes. He just needed to sit back and relax and take it easy and he'll be fine," Johnson said. ... The Astros acquired INF Tyler Greene from St. Louis for a player to be named or cash. Greene was traveling to Houston on Thursday and was expected to suit up for the Astros on Friday.

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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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USA TODAY Sports

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.