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Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hits walkoff single to beat Orioles

Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hits walkoff single to beat Orioles

WASHINGTON -- It was payback time for Matt Wieters and the Washington Nationals.

Wieters hit a winning, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning against his former team, and the Nationals rallied to beat Baltimore 7-6 on Wednesday night and end the Orioles' six-game winning streak.

After losing twice in Baltimore, the first-place Nationals trailed 6-2 in the seventh inning at their own ballpark and were in danger of extending their losing streak.

"We certainly didn't want to lose four in a row," manager Dusty Baker said. "That would have negated all the work we'd done prior to that."

Instead, Washington used a three-run ninth to earn a feel-good victory.

"We needed a win, we had played poorly the first two games all around," Wieters said. "The fact they kicked our butts there, you want to come back and beat them."

Down by two in the ninth, the Nationals rallied against Brad Brach (0-1), who is serving as Baltimore's closer while Zach Britton is on the disabled list.

Jayson Werth led off the ninth with a homer to end an 11-pitch at-bat and begin Brach's downfall.

Bryce Harper doubled, and with one out, an intentional walk and a single loaded the bases. Wieters stepped in and hit a liner to right to win it.

Wieters signed with Washington in February following an eight-year run with Baltimore. Suffice to say he knew all about Brach, his former batterymate.

"It's tough facing a guy you threw so many innings to. He kind of knows everything you're throwing," Brach said. "He put a good swing on it."

Brach was wildly successful as a setup man last season, but now he's Baltimore's closer. He's eight for 10 thus far, and it hasn't been easy.

"I've been trying to do my best to not think about the inning," he said. "I just think it's not really executing more than anything else."

Matt Albers (2-0) -- another former Oriole -- struck out three straight batters for the win.

Mark Trumbo and Manny Machado homered for the Orioles, who built a seemingly comfortable lead against Stephen Strasburg.

Trumbo struck out twice against Strasburg before launching a two-run shot to deep center to put Baltimore on top 5-1 in the fifth. It was only the fourth long ball of the season for Trumbo, the defending major league home run leader.

Machado hit his ninth homer off Blake Treinen in the seventh.

Orioles starter Wade Miley needed 119 pitches to get 15 outs, but he left with a 5-2 lead after striking out five and walking four. In his previous start, the left-hander was pulled in the first inning after consecutive batters struck him with line drives.

Strasburg struck out nine over six innings but gave up five runs and eight hits, both season highs.

Michael Taylor homered and had three RBIs for the Nationals.

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Ryan Zimmerman’s ailing foot returns him to the injured list

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USA Today

Ryan Zimmerman’s ailing foot returns him to the injured list

WASHINGTON -- Ryan Zimmerman is on the injured list. Again.

Zimmerman was placed on the 10-day injured list Monday because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot, which also caused him to be on the injured list earlier this season from April 28 to June 27.

Outfielder Andrew Stevenson was called up to take Zimmerman’s spot on the roster. In a separate move, veteran reliever Michael Blazek was summoned from Triple-A Fresno on Monday. Reliever Kyle McGowin was sent to Double-A Harrisburg.

Zimmerman, who turns 35 years old Sept. 28, has played just 33 games this season. He played 85 games last season. The Nationals are hopeful this “partial rupture” could go away quickly. The bigger picture view is what this means for Zimmerman next year.

The team holds an $18 million option on him. It will be declined. Zimmerman knew at the beginning of the season his health would be key to every aspect of his future, If he was healthy, he thought he could still play well. He hit .333 in July, proving that idea to be true. But, he has not remained healthy.

From the start of the year, the Nationals and Zimmerman have said they hope to work something out if the contract option is not picked up. Zimmerman joined the organization in 2005. He doesn’t seem inclined to go elsewhere. 

An oblique injury stalled Zimmerman last year. This year, his foot won’t cooperate. Zimmerman could come off the injured list Aug. 1. If he does, and plays every game the rest of the season, he would max out at 87 games played. He would be provided days off when he returns, so Zimmerman is almost assured of playing fewer games this season than last.

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Nationals' ace Max Scherzer on the cusp of a return

Nationals' ace Max Scherzer on the cusp of a return

WASHINGTON -- Everything looked normal Monday: Max Scherzer in full uniform went to right field for his warmup throws, then walked into the Nationals’ bullpen for a full pitching session. He briefly lingered to talk it over with the regular denizens of the bullpen before exiting through the back entrance and looping back to the clubhouse.

It went well. He feels good. The expectation is he will start a game “at the end of the week,” according to Davey Martinez. Scherzer declined to put a projection forth. He’s just pleased to feel well. 

“I’m getting through the ball,” Scherzer said. “I feel great. I feel 100 percent. The ball is coming out 100 percent. It’s just a matter of making sure I got all of the feel for all the executions.”

Per usual, The Next Day is at issue. Scherzer expects no problems because he threw from a mound Saturday and felt “nothing” Sunday. If he comes in Tuesday feeling good, everything should be set for possibly Thursday to return and wrap a four-game series with Colorado. 

Scherzer thought he could pitch Sunday in Atlanta. He suggested as much to Martinez and others. Mike Rizzo, Martinez and team medical staff told him no.  

“[I asked], but it wouldn’t have been smart,” Scherzer said. “You need to see me off the mound. Can’t take that chance. I always want to pitch. If this was Sept. 28, I think, yeah, they would have let me go. But when you have so much season left. You can’t take that risk. So...I get it. If I ever think I can pitch, I’m always going to want to pitch. That’s why the ball’s in the trainer’s court, the ball’s in Rizzo’s court, the ball’s in Dr. [Robin] West’s court. They have to make that call. They didn’t make that call. I completely get why.”

A cortisone shot received seven days ago has proven effective. As has advice from former teammate Shawn Kelley, who had the same injury -- inflammation of his bursa sac below his right scapula -- three days before Scherzer. They talked, the shot was recommended and it helped right on time.

Scherzer said he has an idea what caused the issue, but chose not to disclose it. Though, he was adamant it has nothing to do with his workload this season.

Despite not pitching since July 6, Scherzer still leads the National League in strikeouts. He remains a top-tier Cy Young candidate. He also is desperately needed by a Nationals team which suddenly has a bit of disarray percolating in their rotation.

Assuming Scherzer is ready to return, the Nationals need to sort out the fifth spot in their rotation. Erick Fedde was scheduled to pitch Monday before the game was postponed by Major League Baseball because of inclement weather a day after Joe Ross put together a reasonable start in Atlanta. Austin Voth (right biceps tendinitis) remains on the 10-day injured list and is building strength in his arm. He expected to throw Monday.

The next two days are mostly lined up: Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin will pitch. Fedde could pitch the 1:05 p.m. start of Wednesday's split day-night doubleheader. If Scherzer pitches Thursday, Anibal Sanchez would be bumped to Friday to open the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Nationals could pitch Scherzer on Friday -- keeping Sanchez on turn -- and still have him to close the three-game series against Atlanta next week.

"[Tuesday] will be a big day,” Martinez said. “If Max comes in and says he has no issues, we’ll go from there.”

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