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Nats lose to Arizona, fall out of first place

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Nats lose to Arizona, fall out of first place

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: On the heels of a weekend sweep in New York that left them in a virtual tie with the Mets atop the NL East, the Nationals hoped the opener of a homestand against the sub-.500 Diamondbacks and Rockies would serve as a much-needed elixir for this ailing ballclub. It didn't. And they now find themselves out of first place and out of playoff position altogether as a result.

Doug Fister was roughed up for five runs, most of the damage coming via three homers spread among the top of the third and fourth innings. The veteran right-hander put his team in a considerable hole, and that proved significant by night's end.

Shut out by rookie Zack Godley, the Nationals came to bat in the bottom of the ninth trailing 6-0 and showing no signs of life. Then they suddenly came to life, with Ryan Zimmerman homering off Daniel Hudson, and a flurry of base hits following, all of which trimmed the deficit to 6-4 with one out and Jayson Werth stepping to the plate. Sidewinder Brad Ziegler, though, managed to get Werth to ground out and Yunel Escobar to fly out, spoiling that last-ditch rally.

The ninth-inning drama aside, the Nationals still ended the night in an unfamiliar and unappealing position. With the Mets routing the Marlins in Miami, the Nats are now out of first place for the first time since June 19. They're also 3 games out of the NL wild card race, with the Pirates, Cubs and Giants all ahead of them for the two available spots for the annual play-in game.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: Just because a lineup is nearly healthy, there's no guarantee that lineup will be productive, as the Nationals have found out over the last week. The return of Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman from injuries haven't had a positive effect on the Nats' lineup as a whole. This group scored five runs over a span of 47 innings before the attempted ninth-inning rally. Rendon, Werth and Zimmerman obviously are still finding their strokes after prolonged DL stints. But that, combined with prolonged slumps by Wilson Ramos and Ian Desmond, hasn't helped matters at all.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Just when it looked like Fister was starting to right his ship, he fell right back into some bad habits. The right-hander cruised through his first two innings, with a heavy sinker that induced four groundball outs and a pair of strikeouts. But then he elevated a 3-1 pitch to Nick Ahmed, who launched it to left field for a solo homer. And then he served up back-to-back bombs to David Peralta and Welington Castillo in the fourth, marking the second time in as many nights a Nationals pitcher allowed three homers in a span of six or fewer batters. This has become a real problem for Fister, who has now given up 12 homers in 86 innings this season. He also has given up five or more runs five times in 15 starts, something he did only twice in 25 starts last year.

KEY STAT: After going 8-for-12 with the bases loaded last season, Ian Desmond is 2-for-9 this season.

UP NEXT: Max Scherzer and his 2.22 ERA take the mound Tuesday night to face Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin (2-3, 3.21). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

RELATED: Strasburg strong in 2nd rehab start, next stop D.C.?

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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.