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Strasburg strikes out 13, Nats win

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Strasburg strikes out 13, Nats win

Game in a nutshell: Stuck in a three-game losing streak and in danger of getting swept by the Pirates, the Nationals needed their ace to deliver. And boy, did he. Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 batters over six innings, coming up one K shy of his career high (set in his big-league debut against Pittsburgh). A Nationals lineup, meanwhile, that had looked lost at the plate throughout this series came up big at last in the sixth when both Roger Bernadina and Adam LaRoche homered to deep left-center. Relievers Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Clippard and Henry Rodriguez then closed it out, preserving the victory and keeping the Nationals in first place for the 30th consecutive day.

Hitting highlight: Stymied all night by Kevin Correia and seemingly pressing to try to make something happen and snap out of their offensive funk, the Nationals finally broke through in the top of the sixth, thanks to a pair of titanic blasts. Bernadina started things off by crushing a pitch into the back bullpen in deep left-center, perhaps a 440-foot, opposite-field homer. After Ryan Zimmerman walked, LaRoche nearly duplicated Bernadina's feat, crushing a ball just shy of the same spot. With those two blasts, the Nationals took the lead and for the first time in days were able to breathe a little easier.
Pitching highlight: Uh, was there really any question about this one? In his most-dominant performance since the last time he faced the Pirates, Strasburg dazzled with nearly every pitch. He wasn't perfect, particularly during a two-run fourth inning that featured three hits and during a tense sixth inning that featured three straight walks. But when he needed to come up big, he did in a big way, striking out Pittsburgh batter after Pittsburgh batter. No pitch was more important than his 103rd and final one of the night: a 96 mph fastball to Garrett Jones with the bases loaded, preserving a one-run lead.

Key stat: Combining the latter portion of his major-league debut and the first portion of this game, Strasburg at one point had struck out 14 of 16 Pirates batters.

Up next: The Nationals head down the Ohio River a few hundred miles for the start of a weekend series in Cincinnati. Gio Gonzalez faces Mike Leake at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Great American Ball Park.

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Ex-Oriole Manny Machado homers off ex-National Gio Gonzalez in NLCS Game 1

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USA Today Sports

Ex-Oriole Manny Machado homers off ex-National Gio Gonzalez in NLCS Game 1

Sure, the Nationals and Orioles didn't make the playoffs, but that didn't stop a "Battle of the Beltways" moment from breaking out during NLCS Game 1.

Ex-National Gio Gonzalez started the game for the Brewers. In the second inning, ex-Oriole Manny Machado stepped to the plate for the Dodgers.

Here's what happened next:

If you squint, you can imagine the ball flying into the Nationals Park bullpen or the Camden Yards bleachers. 

And in case you're wondering, we have indeed entered the Twilight Zone. 

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Nationals get offseason started by acquiring righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Marlins

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USA Today Sports

Nationals get offseason started by acquiring righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Marlins

The Washington Nationals picked up righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Miami in their first offseason move to rebuild the bullpen.

The Nationals said Wednesday that they gave the Marlins international slot value in the deal.

The hard-throwing Barraclough went 1-6 with 4.20 ERA and 10 saves in 17 chances, with 61 appearances this year. He allowed one hit in 36 at-bats in June, when he was chosen NL reliever of the month, but struggled with his command the rest of the season.

Barraclough's ERA ballooned to 10.24 over his final 24 games and he lost the Marlins closer's job.

He has a career ERA of 3.21 with 279 strikeouts and 134 walks in 218 2/3 innings over four seasons, all with Miami.

Washington general manager Mike Rizzo is in need of relievers after jettisoning Shawn Kelley and Brandon Kintzler late this season.

The deal helps the Marlins in their pursuit of top international free-agent Victor Victor Mesa, a Cuban outfielder who tried out for major league scouts at Marlins Park last week.

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