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Nationals beat Brewers, but Harper leaves game

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Nationals beat Brewers, but Harper leaves game

MILWAUKEE — Yunel Escobar and Wilson Ramos hit two-run homers and Bryce Harper continued his offensive surge by driving in two runs as the Washington Nationals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-2 on Saturday.

It was the just the type of performance the struggling Nationals needed from its 3-4-5 hitters after coming in losers of 11 of 14. While Harper has been hot all season, Escobar and Ramos both slumped recently at the plate.

Against the Brewers, the three looked fearsome, going 7 of 13 with six RBIs and chasing starter Jimmy Nelson (3-7) in the sixth.

Escobar’s homer put Washington ahead for good 3-2 in the third and Ramos’ shot extended the lead to 5-2 in the fifth. Harper finished 3 for 3, but was hit by a pitch in the ninth and left the game. With RBIs in the first and sixth innings, he has 51 for the season.

Nationals starter Joe Ross (1-1) won for the first time in his major league career by scattering seven hits in eight solid innings.

It was the first time the Nationals had ever faced Nelson. It didn’t take long for them to figure him out.

Harper opened the scoring with a sharp RBI single to left in the first, then set the stage in the fifth with two outs by battling back from an 0-2 count. He took two close pitches to earn a walk and set up Ramos, whose home run just beyond the fence in right field fence landed with a loud thud off the picnic area awning.

Harper, who left the game after being hit by reliever Michael Blazek’s pitch just above the right knee in the ninth, has hits in all five games (9 of 17) of this three-city, eight-game trip. Escobar and Ramos had managed just six hits over 28 at-bats combined before Saturday.

The trio’s effort made all the difference as Washington (32-30) avoided falling back to .500 for the first time since May 8.

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The Brewers failed to match a season-high three-game winning streak with Ross on the mound. The 22-year-old struck out eight and settled down after a shaky second inning to win his first road start by retiring 11 of the final 12 batters he faced.

ESPINOSA ALL OVER

Danny Espinosa made his first career start at first base for the Nationals.

Espinosa has played third base, left field and now first base this season for the first time in his six-year career after previously only playing middle infield positions.

With Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis) on the DL, Espinosa looked like a natural making all the necessary plays in the field.

TRAINING ROOM

Nationals: RHP Doug Fister (forearm tightness) threw six scoreless innings in a rehab start with Double-A Harrisburg on Friday night. He’s expected to throw a bullpen session before rejoining the Nationals next week. . Nationals manager Matt Williams says a bullpen session is also RHP Stephen Strasburg’s next step after throwing a simulated game Friday. Strasburg (neck) was placed on the 15-day DL on May 30.

Brewers: CF Carlos Gomez (right hip) was back in the lineup after missing three games. He went 0 for 4. . Brewers LF Gerardo Parra came up hobbled in the second inning after fouling a ball off his right shin just above his protective guard, but stayed in the game.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Max Scherzer (6-5, 2.13 ERA) takes the mound in the series finale. The right-hander has gone at least six innings in every start this year, but has faltered in his last two outings — giving up a combined eight runs in two losses. The slump followed a dominant five-game winning streak where he gave up just seven runs over 36 innings.

Brewers: Milwaukee counters with rookie Taylor Jungmann who will look to build on a strong outing in a win in Tuesday in Pittsburgh. The 2011 first-round draft pick’s breakout performance was a surprise following a slow start to the season in Triple-A Colorado Springs. “You feel good giving him the ball. That’s the big thing,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Nationals to wear throwback Expos signature powder blues on July 6

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Nationals to wear throwback Expos signature powder blues on July 6

Bring out the powder blues!

In the decade and a half since the Nationals franchise relocated from Montreal to Washington, D.C. in 2005, the Nationals have only worn throwback uniforms honoring the Washington Senators, who played in the Nation's Capitol from 1901-1960 before the franchise moved to Minnesota and became the current Minnesota Twins. They have not once worn any Expos throwbacks.

That all changes on July 6, when the Nationals will sport the signature Montreal Expos powder blue uniforms against the Kansas City Royals as the Nationals celebrate the franchise's 50th anniversary, according to the Washington Post.

The uniform features powder blue jerseys and pants, with the tri-color red, white, and blue signature Expos cap.

The Royals will also be donning throwback uniforms from their inaugural 1969 season, taking the field in their original road grey uniforms with a cursive "Kansas City" across their chest in Royal blue.

The Nationals are honoring the Expos in more ways than just sporting their old uniforms. Nationals Park will also be going through a makeover, as the Expos 'M' will replace the Nationals 'Curly W' across the park for the afternoon. Additionally, concessions will offer traditional Canadian food, such as poutine, Montreal smoked brisket sandwiches and more. 

Expos legend Vladimir Guerrero will also be in attendance. Other members of the Nationals, such as manager Dave Martinez, third base coach Bob Henley, and MASN broadcaster F.P. Santangelo will be honored for their contributions to the Expos as well.

July 6 should be an exciting day at Nationals Park.

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Mike Rizzo: Max Scherzer's season performance thus far is 'historical'

Mike Rizzo: Max Scherzer's season performance thus far is 'historical'

It's no secret that Max Scherzer has been having the best month of his career. As whispers of a fourth Cy Young begin following his commanding starts this season, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo joined the chorus.

"We're seeing something from a major league pitcher that we’re very fortunate because we get to see this every fifth day and this is historical stuff," Rizzo said on The Sports Junkies Wednesday. "This is one of the great pitchers of our time and a hall of fame caliber guy and a guy who leaves it on the mound each and every day."

To add to his dominant June, Scherzer allowed only one run and recorded 10 strikeouts over eight innings in the Nationals' 6-1 win over the Miami Marlins Tuesday night.

"He wills himself to win and he wills himself to go the extra inning, the extra pitch," Rizzo said.

Many are calling Scherzer's consistent greatness this month the most dominant time of his career. According to NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas, the only month in his career that comes close to his June 2019 dominance is June 2017, when Scherzer boasted a 0.99 ERA, pitched 36 ⅓ innings, recorded 51 strikeouts, six walks, and a 0.55 WHIP. This June, Scherzer has more strikeouts and a lower ERA.

"He's one of the best pitchers in the league," Rizzo said. "Day in and day out, start in and start out, he gives you an opportunity to win, he gives you his best, he leaves everything on the mound each and every time."

Scherzer has one more start left this month against the Detroit Tigers, the three-day series in Detroit beginning Friday. Until then, Scherzer can rest his arm with two remaining games in the three-game series with the Marlins Wednesday and Thursday at 7:10 p.m.

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