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Tough week for Nats continues with Storen's bad night

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Tough week for Nats continues with Storen's bad night

The Nationals again built an early lead on a team with a losing record on Friday night, as they've grown accustomed to in recent games. But again their offense locked up in the later innings and again their bullpen couldn't hold up their end of the bargain.

This time it was against the Colorado Rockies, who rode an eighth-inning grand slam by slugger Carlos Gonzalez to a 5-4 comeback victory.

The Nationals lost, but there were several moments where they had the Rockies exactly where they wanted them, including with Bryce Harper up in the bottom of the ninth representing the winning run. This loss wasn't on Harper, though, as Drew Storen allowed the big hit to Gonzalez to snap what was one of the best stretches of the veteran reliever's MLB career.

Storen took the mound in the top of the eighth and made quick work of Rockies' left fielder Kyle Parker. Then Colorado summoned a familiar foe to pinch-hit for the pitcher. Daniel Descalso, who landed the game-tying hit off Storen in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS back when he was with St. Louis, stepped into the box.

Descalso worked a walk and was joined on base by Jose Reyes, who singled to right field, one out later. Nolan Arenado then reached on a slow grounder that rolled to the left of the pitcher's mound.

That brought up Gonzalez, the Rockies' cleanup hitter who is among the most dangerous hitters in baseball when he's at his best. Storen started the count with a fastball inside for a ball. Then he served up a 94 mile per hour heater that stayed up and in. Gonzalez got every bit of it and pelted the ball off the backwall of the Nats' bullpen in right field. It was a no-doubter and it turned the game from a three-run Nats' lead to a one-run deficit.

"I just had a couple things … a couple guys get on base for various reasons and then make one bad pitch, a fastball come over the plate to a really good hitter. It’s kind of the nature of the business," Storen explained.

"He's had a very good season for us, it just wasn't his night," Matt Williams said. "Just made a mistake to a guy who has recently been really hot and has power. It's the game of baseball."

Storen wanted the fastball to stay further inside, but it hung just enough over the plate for Gonzalez to turn on it. Gonzalez said afterwards he was waiting for the pitch.

"The way they pitched me the whole night I was kind of prepared for that fastball middle-in," he said. "I’m hitting in the cleanup spot and that’s what we get paid to do.”

The loss leaves the Nationals at 56-52 on the season and losers of six of their last eight. They are 2 1/2 games behind the New York Mets for the first time since May 12 and now sit four games out of the last NL Wild Card spot.

This particular loss was as stunning as any this season with the way their fortunes turned so quickly. It continued what has been a trying week for a team that hasn't found their way since the All-Star break. So far they have failed to take advantage of a homestand against sub-.500 teams, a troubling sign given they play at the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants following this weekend.

All that said, the Nationals remain adamant about not worrying about the big picture just yet.

"Storen came out with his best, and CarGo came out with his best. Sometimes you've got to tip your cap to the best in the game, and CarGo's one of them," Harper said. "Hopefully we can go back out there tomorrow and go get them tomorrow and see where we're at at the end of the day."

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

The MLB All-Star Game is at Nationals Park and is now less than a month away, so let's check in on how D.C.'s top players and fan favorites are doing in the voting. 

After the first National League All-Star Game ballot update last week, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams were the three Nationals among the top players receiving votes. And while that's still the case, they've all dropped one position since last week. Perhaps because of the Nats' recent slump?

Opening as the No. 1 outfielder, Harper is now No. 2 in the voting with 1,002,696 tallies, behind Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis with 1,173,653 votes. They are, however, the only two outfielders with more than a million votes and 2-of-5 overall in the voting. 

Adams — who was 14th among outfielders last week — slid one spot to No. 15 with 237,165 votes.

Last week, Turner was the No. 4 shortstop on the ballot, but he has since dropped to No. 4 with 279,071 votes. He's behind San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford, Braves' Dansby Swanson, Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell and Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story — who was the one to jump Turner this time around. 

If you're a Nats fan who doesn't like these results, don't worry. You can keep voting until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and you can vote up to five times every 24 hours. Read more about how to vote for your favorite players in the MLB All-Star Game HERE

The 2018 NL-AL matchup is in Washington, D.C. on July 17.

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Nationals bats get hot, but not enough vs. Blue Jays

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Nationals bats get hot, but not enough vs. Blue Jays

TORONTO — Washington Nationals reliever Ryan Madson had spent the past couple of weeks thinking about how long he'd gone between giving up home runs.

He won't have to wonder about it any more after the Toronto Blue Jays burned him with back-to-back blasts.

Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte broke a tie with consecutive home runs in the eighth inning, Randal Grichuk added a pair of solo shots and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Washington Nationals 8-6 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez and Solarte connected off Madson (1-3) as the Blue Jays won their seventh consecutive home game. Hernandez hit his 12th home run while Solarte's was his team-leading 15th.

"Everybody knows Madson is one of the best relievers in the league," Hernandez said. "We made some adjustments, took good swings, and hit it hard."

Madson last gave up a home run on June 4, 2017, while pitching for Oakland against Washington, when Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run shot.

"I've been thinking about it a little bit because it seemed like it had been a while," Madson said of his year-plus streak. "It's kind of been on my mind for the last couple of weeks."

Madson, who allowed two home runs in all of 2017, blamed poor fastball command for his rough outing.

"I envisioned the inning going a lot different than that, obviously," he said. "The stuff was good but no command of it."

Hernandez went 3 for 4 and was hit by a pitch, reaching bases four times.

Grichuk went 3 for 3 with a bases-loaded walk. He homered off Tanner Roark in the second and went deep again off Shawn Kelley in the fifth. The homers were the sixth and seven of the season for Grichuk, five of which have come in June.

Kevin Pillar and Kendrys Morales each had two hits and an RBI for the Blue Jays, who are 6-2 in interleague play this season.

"Every game we win means a lot," Hernandez said. "We're just trying to get closer to the fight for first and second (wild card) spots."

Washington has lost five of six.

"You never want to get swept but I'm glad we swung the bats today," manager Dave Martinez said. "We haven't been swinging very well. I'll take our chances very time we score six runs."

Grichuk snapped a 5-5 tie with an RBI single off Justin Miller in the seventh but the Nationals answered in the eighth with Brian Goodwin's RBI single off Toronto's Tyler Clippard.

Ryan Tepera (4-2) pitched the final 1 1-3 innings for the win.

Slumping Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper started as the designated hitter and went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .217.

Harper, who has seven hits in his past 51 at bats, flied out to leave the bases loaded against Tepera in the eighth.

Neither starter lasted more than four innings. Blue Jays right-hander Sam Gaviglio allowed three runs and six hits while Roark allowed four runs and eight hits.

"I stunk today," Roark said.

THIEVERY

Toronto allowed a season-worst five stolen bases, four of them by Michael A. Taylor. The five steals matched Washington's season-high.

CATCH WITH DAD

On Father's Day, the sons and daughters of several Blue Jays tossed ceremonial first pitches to their dads, a group that included Solarte, Pillar, Morales, Aledmys Diaz and pitchers J.A Happ and John Axford.

FATHERHOOD

Gaviglio left before the game was over to fly home to Washington state after learning his wife had gone into labor with the couple's first child.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 1B Matt Adams (left hand) was out of the lineup for a second straight day. Adams was hit by a pitch while attempting to bunt Friday. Daniel Muprhy made his second straight start at first.

Blue Jays: OF Steve Pearce (strained left oblique) went 2 for 2 with a walk in his second rehab game at Triple-A Buffalo. Pearce went 1 for 3 with a single and a walk Saturday.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Washington returns home Monday to face the New York Yankees. The teams will resume a May 15 game that was suspended with the score tied 3-3 in the middle of the sixth inning. Following the completion of that game, the Nationals and Yankees will make up a May 16 game that was postponed by rain. RHP Erick Fedde (0-1, 5.91) will start the nine-inning game. The Yankees have not named a starter.

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