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Report: Nats sign swingman Petit to 1-year deal

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Report: Nats sign swingman Petit to 1-year deal

NASHVILLE — Needing an experienced long reliever to take over the role vacated by last week's parting with Craig Stammen, the Nationals reportedly have come to terms with former Giants right-hander Yusmeiro Petit on a 1-year contract.

The Petit agreement, reported by the New York Post's Joel Sherman, has not been confirmed by the Nationals and is pending a physical.

Petit is no stranger to Nationals fans, who have seen firsthand the impact he can have on a game pitching long relief. The right-hander famously tossed six scoreless innings of 1-hit ball in Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS, earning the win for the Giants in their 18-inning triumph that altered the complexion of the series.

MORE NATIONALS:  Do the Nats need another left-handed bat?

Petit, 31, posted nearly identical numbers in 2014 (3.69 ERA in 39 games) and 2015 (3.67 ERA in 42 games) but was non-tendered by San Francisco, which chose not to go to arbitration with him. He is eligible for free agency next winter.

Over an 8-year career with the Marlins, Diamondbacks and Giants, Petit owns a 20-27 record and 4.59 ERA, with 57 of his 161 appearances coming as a starter. The Nationals would be looking at him as a reliever but would know he was available as an emergency starter if needed.

That's a role Stammen held for them the last four seasons but opened up when the club decided not to tender the popular right-hander a contract last week after an injury plagued year. Stammen missed most of 2015 with a torn flexor tendon in his throwing arm, and though he is encouraged about his prognosis for 2016, the club wasn't willing to take the risk and offer him the minimum $1.8 million salary he would have been required to receive had he been tendered a contract.

Asked Monday who would fill Stammen's role, general manager Mike Rizzo suggested a potential acquisition.

"We certainly have several internal candidates that we'll look to, and there's possibly something in the trade market or free-agent market that appeals to us," he said. "We'll definitely look into it."

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Max Scherzer, Nationals undone by little things in St. Louis

Max Scherzer, Nationals undone by little things in St. Louis

Wednesday’s question around Max Scherzer centered on which version of the right-hander would do the pitching. Would it be the one from two starts ago who looked like the pitcher everyone was so accustomed to seeing? Or the one from his last start, less sharp, fastball a tick down in velocity and life?

Scherzer threw a first-pitch, 95-mph fastball Wednesday. He was loose and sharp. His outing also probably handed the Cy Young Award to New York’s Jacob deGrom.

The issues were less his doing than his teammates. Scherzer’s final line, 6 ⅔ innings, seven hits, five earned runs, 11 strikeouts, no walks, bumped his ERA to 2.81. But, Juan Soto lost a fly ball in the sun which otherwise would have ended the seventh inning. Catch it, and here’s Scherzer’s line: seven innings pitched, five hits -- two of which were bloops -- two earned runs, no walks, 11 strikeouts. Scherzer would be directly responsible for not throwing a cutter in far enough against wonder boy Tommy Edman, who hit it for a home run in the third inning. Otherwise, stellar.

Instead, a single drove in a run after the Soto mistake. A Matt Wieters pinch-hit two-run homer drove Scherzer out of the game following the single. Hence, the bloated line in a high-profile game. The rise in ERA, the loss, the box score telling a partial fib, all those things strongly enhance what was already a strong case for deGrom. Scherzer could never makeup the workload gap in the race, but could hang around or lead in all the peripherals. Wednesday’s outing made that much more difficult. 

The Nationals also never found a way to a damn-busting hit. Asdrúbal Cabrera’s deep fly ball to right field was prevented from going over the fence by a leaping Dexter Fowler, a would-be three-run homer turned into another sigh against St. Louis. The Cardinals made plays, Washington did not. St. Louis wins two of three in a series against Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and Scherzer as a result.

Washington holds a one-game lead for the top wild-card spot before play begins Wednesday night. Chicago hosts Cincinnati. Milwaukee hosts San Diego. Things are tight.

The Nationals don’t play Thursday. A three-game weekend series begins in Miami on Friday. A sweep resets Washington’s season. It would also make it 16-3 against Miami this year. Anyting less? Not great.

Washington will have a slight advantage -- in theory -- going forward because it has the dual benefit of a lead (however small) as well as a game in hand on Chicago and Milwaukee. Who will pitch that extra game? Joe Ross is injured. The recent rotation shuffling for the weekend -- Aníbal Sánchez on Friday, Strasburg on Saturday and Austin Voth bumped to Sunday -- means Erick Fedde or Jeremy Hellickson would handle the day game Tuesday in Nationals Park. 

The Nationals are 6-10 in the last two-plus weeks. They haven’t lost their postseason spot --yet. However, it’s slipping, tenuous and in doubt, and Wednesday afternoon didn’t help.

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Dexter Fowler jumps, stretches out, robs Nationals of three runs

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Dexter Fowler jumps, stretches out, robs Nationals of three runs

The Nationals trailed the Cardinals 5-1 in the top of the eighth on Wednesday in St. Louis. 

But after Anthony Rendon walked and Howie Kendrick singled, Asdrubal Cabrera stepped to the plate with one out and a chance to cut St. Louis' lead to one run. 

With a 3-2 count, Cabrera roped an 82 mph slider to right field, and Nationals fans had a moment to rejoice as the ball's trajectory was clearly that of a home run. 

Enter: Dexter Fowler. 

The Cardinals' right fielder made a quick dash to the wall and leapt, stretching his 6-foot-5 frame to rob Cabrera of the possible three-run longball. 

And thus, Washington headed to the bottom of the inning still trailing 5-1, in serious need of a ninth-inning rally. 

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