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Nats fall to Braves, extend losing skid to six

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Nats fall to Braves, extend losing skid to six

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals showed up at Turner Field on Monday, hoping a change of scenery would be the impetus for a change of fortunes. Instead, they dug themselves into an even deeper hole with another ugly performance that extended their losing streak to six games and may have cost them their starting third baseman.

Doug Fister was shaky over 5 2/3 innings, giving up 10 hits and committing two costly errors on pickoff attempts. One of those errors set up a play in which Andrelton Simmons slid hard into third base and injured Yunel Escobar's left hand, knocking Escobar out of the game and perhaps leading to hot tempers later when Nationals reliever Rafael Martin hit Simmons in the back with his first pitch out of the bullpen.

The Nationals did show some fire late, getting a Little League home run (triple-plus-error) from Dan Uggla to trim the deficit to 7-4 in the eighth. But that was too little, too late for a team that has now lost six in a row, dropped to 7-13 and a sits a full 8 games behind the Mets in the NL East.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: There was no singular moment that was lower than the others, but collectively the Nationals offensive showing in this game certainly qualified as a lowlight. One night after managing one run and three hits off Dan Haren, they did the exact same against Eric Stults. Nothing against either pitcher, but we're not talking about flamethrowers here. The Nationals did hit several balls hard off Stults, with Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth all victims of some bad luck. But overall, this team just isn't hitting anywhere close to its full capacity right now.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: What exactly is going on right now with Fister? Whatever it is, he hasn't looked like himself so far this season. He issued four walks a couple of starts ago, then served up two homers his last time out. And in this one, the usually rock-solid right-hander twice was charged with errors on wayward pickoff attempts. The first led to the play that injured Escobar. The second led to a run scoring. When it was all done, Fister had allowed five runs (four earned, though it was his error) and 10 hits in only 5 2/3 innings. The question is whether something's wrong with him, or whether (like his entire team) he's just off to a slow start.

INJURY UPDATE: Escobar was forced out of the game in the bottom of the fifth after appearing to get spiked on the left hand on a hard slide by Simmons at third base. Simmons' slide knocked Escobar's glove completely off, and left the infielder writhing in pain. He was helped off the field by assistant trainer Steve Gober, with Danny Espinosa taking over at third base and Uggla entering to play second base.

KEY STAT: Nats starters, other than Max Scherzer, haven't reached the seventh inning in their last seven games.

UP NEXT: The Nationals will need a spot start from either Tanner Roark or rookie A.J. Cole in place of the injured Scherzer when they face the Braves at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday. Julio Teheran starts for Atlanta. 

[RELATED: Escobar leaves Nats game with hand injury]

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

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.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

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.