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Which Nats deserve to be All-Stars?

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Which Nats deserve to be All-Stars?

Fan voting for the 83rd All-Star Game officially came to an end at midnight, so if you were planning a last-minute ballot-stuffing barrage in support of the Nationals, you're too late.

Not that it was likely to do much good. The chance of any position player getting voted in as an All-Star starter is miniscule, considering none of the eight guys on the ballot (Wilson Ramos, Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Rick Ankiel, Jayson Werth) ranked even in the top five at his position when the most recent totals were announced Tuesday.

That doesn't, however, mean the Nationals won't be well-represented 11 days from now when Kansas City hosts the midsummer classic. Quite the contrary, they're poised to send multiple players to the game for the first time since 2005 and perhaps even send more than two players for the first time since the franchise arrived in town. Those selections will just have to come from fellow player balloting or the selection of National League manager Tony La Russa.

Rosters will officially be announced Sunday afternoon, so there's not much wrangling or posturing left to do. With that in mind, let's run through the Nationals' candidates and put some odds on their eventual All-Star selections. (And be sure to cast your own votes in the Nats Insider poll. You may vote for more than one player.)...

STEPHEN STRASBURG
The case for: He's tied for ninth in the NL in ERA (2.60), tied for fifth in wins (nine) and leads the majors in strikeouts (118). Plus, he'd be a big-time draw as a first-time All-Star.
The case against: Not much of one, but perhaps his lack of innings (he's averaging only six per start) could turn a few people off.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 90 percent

GIO GONZALEZ
The case for: He's tied for second in the NL in wins (10), is second only to Strasburg in strikeouts (108) and is sixth in hits allowed per nine innings (6.25). An All-Star last season with the Athletics, he's already well-respected around the game and has raised his profile even more this year.
The case against: He isn't exactly closing out the first half of the season in top form. After winning NL Pitcher of the Month honors in May, he's 3-2 with a 4.34 ERA in June.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 75 percent

IAN DESMOND
The case for: He's second among all MLB shortstops in home runs (13), RBI (41) and slugging percentage (.485) and is first in extra-base hits (37). And he's played sparkling defense, ranking fourth among NL shortstops in UZR150 (7.8).
The case against: Desmond's .276 batting average isn't anything spectacular, and his .304 on-base percentage is not good at all.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 50 percent

BRYCE HARPER
The case for: He's taken the baseball world by storm at the tender age of 19. He's on pace to hit more homers (20) than any teenager other than Tony Conigliaro, and produce an OPS (.850) higher than any teenager other than Conigliaro and Mel Ott.
The case against: After a hot start, he's cooled off in the last two weeks, hitting only .220. And at age 19, with only two months of big-league service time, he hasn't quite established himself as being worthy of standing alongside the game's very best.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 30 percent

ADAM LaROCHE
The case for: Leads all NL first basemen with 15 homers and 48 RBI while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.
The case against: Though he's continued to hit for power, he's otherwise been in a prolonged slump at the plate, hitting just .167 over his last 35 games.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 25 percent

TYLER CLIPPARDThe case for: He's the only reliever in the majors with at least 10 saves and 10 holds. He's a perfect 12-for-12 in save opportunities since taking over as closer, surrendering one total hit during that span. An All-Star last season, he's already recognized as one of the game's best relievers.
The case against: Because he didn't take over as closer until late-May, he hasn't compiled nearly as many saves as the league leaders. Because he was an All-Star last season as a set-up man, some might believe he doesn't need to be recognized again.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 20 percent

SEAN BURNETTThe case for: He's got a 1.71 ERA and 0.987 WHIP while stranding 73 percent of inherited runners this season.
The case against: For a non-closer to get the nod, he's got to have overwhelming stats. His stats are very good, but probably not overwhelming.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 10 percent

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John Gant homers, pitches Cardinals to 6-4 win over Nationals

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USA TODAY Sports

John Gant homers, pitches Cardinals to 6-4 win over Nationals

ST. LOUIS -- Even John Gant cracked a smile.

Gant homered for his first major league hit and pitched one-run ball into the sixth inning, helping the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 6-4 on Tuesday night for their season-high seventh consecutive victory.

Kolten Wong had three hits and three RBIs as St. Louis (65-55) pulled within four games of the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs and moved within one game of the Philadelphia Phillies for the second NL wild card. The Cardinals also improved to 18-9 since Mike Shildt was named interim manager on July 13, the most wins for a manager through his first 27 games in franchise history.

"Things are starting to click for us," Wong said. "We're playing confident. We're out there playing aggressive and I think it's the kind of baseball Cardinals fans have been waiting for."

The Nationals (60-60) have dropped six of eight to fall eight games behind Atlanta in the NL East.

"We've just got to keep pulling the same rope, keep grinding it out, keep trying to win ballgames," Nationals slugger Bryce Harper said.

Gant (5-4) permitted four hits and struck out six in 5 1/3 innings. He has given up just two earned runs over 11 1/3 innings in his last two starts, both wins.

The 26-year-old Gant was 0 for 30 for his career when he drove a 1-1 pitch from Gio Gonzalez (7-9) over the wall in left in the second. The two-run shot gave Washington a 3-0 lead.

"I was jogging kind of my hands in the air," said Wong, who scored on Gant's homer. "I already knew it was going out. Looking back I think he almost caught me."

Added Gant, "I thought it was going to hit the wall maybe but when I finally looked up and (Wong) was looking back at me, that's when I knew it was going over the wall."

Gant, who has a reputation for being a stoic player, admitted to smiling "once or twice" once he got back to the dugout.

Wong's solo homer made it 6-1 in the sixth, but Washington responded with three in the eighth. Harper hit a two-run shot, and Daniel Murphy singled in Anthony Rendon.

Matt Adams then struck out looking against Dakota Hudson, ending the inning, and Jordan Hicks worked the ninth for his fourth save in eight chances.

Paul DeJong also doubled and scored for St. Louis one night after he connected for a game-ending homer in a 7-6 victory. Matt Carpenter walked in the sixth to extend his on-base streak to 32 games.

"We have a 25-man roster and we have confidence in all of them," Shildt said. "They're here for a reason and guys are looking to contribute every night and in different ways."

Gonzalez was charged with five runs and five hits in four innings. The veteran left-hander is just 1-4 in his last six starts.

"I wasn't hitting my spots," Gonzalez said. "Just not being as consistent in the strike zone as I should be. It's just one of those games you can't explain."

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Nationals place Ryan Madson on 10-day DL

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Nationals place Ryan Madson on 10-day DL

Ryan Madson is the latest Washington National headed to the DL, turning the team's relief pitching rotation upside down even more than it already is. 

According to MASN's Dan Kolko, the 37-year-old is nursing a "lumbar nerve root irritation" injury and will sit out for 10 days. 

In response, the team has named Koda Glover as the closer, who was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse Wednesday. 

Glover gave up a game-ending solo blast to the Cardinals' Kevin DeJong Monday night. 

The night before, Madson was on the other end of David Bote's walk-off grand slam in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Cubs. 

As for Tuesday night, Glover's status remains unknown.

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