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Nats need Strasburg to avoid sweep

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Nats need Strasburg to avoid sweep

Remember all those close games the Nationals were winning? Yeah, not so much anymore. In dropping the first two games of this series to the Orioles by scores of 2-1 and 6-5, the Nats have lost their first two one-run games at home this season. They had been 8-0 at Nationals Park. Overall, they've gone 4-7 in their last 11 one-run contests after opening the season 6-1 in those ultra-close ballgames.

If they are to reverse that trend today (and salvage one game from this Battle of the Beltways series) they'll both need Stephen Strasburg to bounce back from his shaky start against the Padres -- here's guessing he avoids all ointments, creams and other topical medications this morning -- and their lineup to produce early against Orioles left-hander Wie-Yin Chen.

Not wanting to tinker too much with the reconfigured lineup he used last night, Davey Johnson is sticking with his second baseman as his leadoff man. That man, however, is not Steve Lombardozzi as it was last night but Danny Espinosa, who returns after getting one night off. Though he hasn't done it yet this year, Espinosa has led off 38 times in his career ... producing a .162 average and .235 on-base percentage.

Plenty of updates to come on the Nats Insider live game thread, so please check it out...

BALTIMORE ORIOLES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MASN2, Ch. 50, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WWXT (92.7 FM), WWXX (94.3 FM), WTEM (980 AM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 184
Weather: Partly cloudy, 79 degrees, Wind 14 mph in from CF

NATIONALS (23-17)
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
RF Xavier Nady
LF Tyler Moore
C Jesus Flores
RHP Stephen Strasburg

ORIOLES (27-14)
LF Xavier Avery
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
3B Wilson Betemit
1B Chris Davis
2B Robert Andino
C Luis Exposito
LHP Wie-Yin Chen

UMPIRES
HP Rob Drake, 1B Joe West (cc), 2B Sam Holbrook, 3B Andy Fletcher

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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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@MLB

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.