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Ninth-inning grand slam lifts Nationals over Arizona

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Ninth-inning grand slam lifts Nationals over Arizona

FINAL: Nationals 9, Diamondbacks 6

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: When Bryce Harper and Matt Williams were ejected in the top of the seventh inning Wednesday afternoon, you couldn't help but sense that controversy would end up affecting the outcome of this game, good or bad. Turns out it did have a dramatic effect on the outcome, in a surprisingly positive way.

Michael Taylor, who took over for Harper in the cleanup spot following his ejection, launched a grand slam in the top of the ninth off Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed, bringing the Nationals back to win the game and their fifth straight series in stunning fashion.

Jayson Werth also belted a 3-run homer to left-center in the top of the third, then Tyler Moore hit the foul pole for a 2-run, pinch-hit homer in the top of the sixth that tied this game 5-5. That's when the real  fireworks began. Harper was ejected by Rob Drake in the top of the seventh on a check-swing call, upset that Drake wouldn't appeal to third base umpire Gabe Morales. Williams also was ejected after coming to Harper's defense, leaving Taylor in the cleanup spot and Randy Knorr managing the final innings of a close ballgame.

The Nationals bullpen got some really big outs along the way, with Tanner Roark, Matt Thornton and Aaron Barrett notching big strikeouts late. But Barrett couldn't make one final pitch to Yasmany Tomas, who lined a 2-out, RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Diamondbacks the lead. That lead was short-lived, though, with Taylor flipping the script in most-dramatic fashion.

MORE NATIONALS: 'DEAL WITH IT'

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Wouldn't you know Taylor would find himself in this situation: Batting with the bases loaded in the ninth, the spot that would've been Harper's if not for the ejection. And wouldn't you know the rookie outfielder would seize the moment like that? Taylor crushed a low 1-0 fastball from Reed to center field, sending the ball flying into a little cut-out in the batter's eye where TV cameras are stationed. The crowd of 19,026 was left in stunned silence over the blast, Taylor's first career grand slam.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Gio Gonzalez had been quite impressive over his last few starts, working a quick pace, keeping his pitch count down and giving the Nationals innings. But when they needed more of that Wednesday, the left-hander couldn't deliver. He gave up five runs in five laborious innings, done in by a couple of walks, three extra-base hits and a whole lot of pitches. At one point, Williams came to the mound for a rare visit that didn't result in a pitching change. The skipper was clearly agitated and let the entire Nats infield have it, with Gonzalez front and center.

KEY STAT: Tanner Roark threw a 96-mph fastball in the sixth inning, matching the hardest pitch he has ever thrown in his big-league career.

UP NEXT: The Nationals head to San Diego for the rest of this road trip and a 4-game series at Petco Park. Doug Fister (2-1, 2.87) faces Tyson Ross (1-3, 3.98) in Thursday's late-night opener at 10:10 p.m. EDT.

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2018 MLB All-Star Game Live Blog

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 MLB All-Star Game Live Blog

This is the year's most ambitious crossover event in baseball. Dozens of MLB standouts from dozens of teams ally along either the National or American league. The two teams play against each other in a lighthearted frankensquad matchup. It's a welcome change of pace, considering how stressed we are about the Nationals' win percentage.

At the moment, we're keeping our eyes to the sky to monitor incoming rain. Aside from the threat of rain delay, we're excited to see how things unfold.

TOP 4 - Machado pops up to the third baseman in what may be his final at-bat wearing an Orioles uniform.

TOP 4 - Matt Kemp deftly avoids tampering charges when the FOX broadcast crew asks him about his selfie with Machado.

BOT 2 - Manny begins acquainting himself with his LA teammates.

BOT 2 - Chris Sale only stuck around for one inning, apparently. It's Luis Severino time in D.C. He allows a double from Matt Kemp to start but then strikes out Bryce Harper. 

TOP 2 - Aaron Judge takes Scherzer deep. 1-0 AL. Sigh.

BOT 1 - AL Starter Chris Sale responds with a scoreless frame of his own. We're on our way to that 3-2 thriller after all!!! 

TOP 1 - Scherzer strikes out Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve before walking Mike Trout (can't blame him) and allowing a hit to J.D. Martinez. No damage done though, and it's 0-0. 

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All-Star Game Weather: Storms causing traffic havoc, could force delay, postponement

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USA Today Sports

All-Star Game Weather: Storms causing traffic havoc, could force delay, postponement

There is inclement weather in the forecast for Tuesday evening both before and during the 2018 All-Star Game in Washington, D.C.

The rain could, theoretically, force the game to be delayed or even postponed, but the forecast shows the skies clearing up as first pitch nears.

Bad weather and MLB All-Star Games share a history in Washington.

The last time Washington hosted the MLB All-Star Game, in 1969, a bad rainstorm forced the game to be postponed from Tuesday night to Wednesday afternoon.

Even if the weather does let up and the game is able to start on time, there are sure to be problems with D.C.'s already-dense traffic. Roads are flooding and with more people on them than usual, getting to the game will surely be an issue.

All-Star Game Forecast

The worst of the weather seems to have already happened on Tuesday afternoon. The rest of the evening forecast calls for a slight chance of precipitation, with mostly cloudy skies and, naturally, a lot of humidity.

The issue, if there is any, would likely be with the All-Star Game getting started on time. That said, there's obviously still the chance for delays during the game.

Luckily, a full postponement seems unlikely at this point.

All-Star Game Traffic

There's hardly a worse place to drive in the United States during rush hour than in, around or through Washington. With the All-Star Game in town, there are already significantly more cars on the road than there usually are. Add rain and flooded roads into that equation and things get extra messy.

The George Washington Parkway, a main thoroughfare in the area, has already flooded.

One road in Alexandria, Virginia, is flooded and has cars scattered about.

Public transportation would seem to be the way to go, but even the Capitol South Metro Station in Southeast D.C. is flooding.


A brief history of weather and the All-Star Game

The first and only time the MLB All-Star Game was ever postponed because of rain was in 1969, the last time Washington was the host.

Three other times, the game has either been shortened or delayed because of rain, most recently in 1990 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. That game was delayed for over an hour but was still played.

All signs point to the game being played Tuesday night, but Nationals Park has definitely felt the wrath of this storm already.

On the bright side, if it's light enough when the game starts, there will probably be a rainbow somewhere in-view from the stadium, which should make for some pretty cool pictures for those in attendance.