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Win No. 59 breaks new ground for Nats

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Win No. 59 breaks new ground for Nats

With their win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night, the Washington Nationals moved to 59-39 on the season. They have reached 20 games over .500 as a franchise for the first time since 1994 and became the first D.C. baseball team to hit the mark in 79 years.

The number 59 itself is significant. The Nats only amassed 59 wins total in each of the 2008 and 2009 regular seasons. Both years of course landed them number one picks the following drafts and in turn Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.

Having played 98 games total so far this season, the Nationals are winning at a clip of .602. They have reached 59 wins faster than any team in franchise history, dating back to the Montreal Expos inaugural 1969 season.

The 1989 Expos hit 59 wins a day before the 2012 Nats, on July 25, but it was in their 100th game. The Expos, however, lost 40 of their last 62 games to finish 81-81 that season.

The five best regular season records in franchise history are as follows: 95 wins (1979), 94 wins (1993), 91 wins (1987), 90 wins (1980), and 88 wins (1996). The fastest to 59 among that bunch was the 79 club who did it in 102 games on Aug. 2. All five of the franchises best regular season teams by wins did not qualify for the playoffs in their respective years.

The one year the franchise did make the postseason was in 1981, when they won a total of 60 games in a strike-shortened year. That team won at a .556 winning percentage which is not quite the pace of this years club. This Nationals team is on pace to win 98 over the course of a full season.

59 doesnt say much in the context of 162 games, but being there this soon in the schedule is not something this franchise has experienced. Davey Johnson has been on championship teams and knows you dont win them in game 98. He told reporters after the game, We havent done nothin.

64 games remain, but the Nationals are tied for the best record in baseball and 2012 could be there for the taking.

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Nationals walked off again, this time by Cardinals' Paul DeJong

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Nationals walked off again, this time by Cardinals' Paul DeJong

ST. LOUIS -- Nationals manager Dave Martinez was awake most of the night after Washington lost on a walk-off grand slam Sunday.

He likely won't be catching up on that missed sleep Monday.

Paul DeJong handed the Nationals their second straight walk-off loss, capping a back-and-forth finish with a game-ending solo homer in the ninth inning of the St. Cardinals' 7-6 victory Monday night.

DeJong took Koda Glover (0-1) deep leading off the ninth on a 3-1 pitch. A night earlier, Ryan Madson allowed a game-ending ninth-inning grand slam to the Chicago Cubs' David Bote in a 4-3 defeat.

"I don't sleep most nights, I like to watch replays of the game," Martinez said. "And last night was no different."

Washington's bullpen has blown saves in three of its past four games. All-Star closer Sean Doolittle has been on the disabled list since early July, and top setup man Kelvin Herrera went to the DL with right rotator cuff impingement last week.

"I don't know what else to do," Martinez said of the bullpen.

The usually stoic DeJong wasn't quite sure how to celebrate his first career walk-off homer. He started calm, keeping his head down as he rounded the bases. After coming around third, though, he whipped his helmet into the grass, threw his arms down and bellowed out a roar.

"My first walkoff, it felt so good I had to do something a little different," DeJong said.

The Cardinals recorded their 10th walkoff of the season and DeJong became the sixth different player to end a game in grand fashion.

"They're all special, all emotional," St. Louis interim manager Mike Shildt said. "These guys have the mentality, `Do your job, keep the line moving.' They have a lot of trust with each other."

The Cardinals have won six in a row and moved to nine games over .500 for the first time this season.

DeJong's 380-foot drive ended a wild final two innings.

Matt Carpenter and Jedd Gyorko homered in the eighth inning to put St. Louis up 6-4. Gyorko started the rally with a leadoff drive, and Carpenter followed with a three-run homer off Sammy Solis.

The Nationals tied it at 6 in the top of the ninth on RBI singles by Daniel Murphy and Matt Wieters off closer Bud Norris. Dakota Hudson (3-0) relieved Norris and stranded two baserunners by retiring Wilmer Difo and Adam Eaton.

Juan Soto and Bryce Harper homered for the Nationals, who have lost five of seven.

Gyorko sparked St. Louis' big eighth inning with his homer off Justin Miller. Kolten Wong and Patrick Wisdom then singled to set up Carpenter's 33rd homer. Carpenter has homered in seven of his past 10 games. He extended his major-league leading on-base streak to 31 games with a first-inning bunt single. He has 17 homers during that string.

Harper won a 10-pitch battle with starter Miles Mikolas by drilling his 29th homer leading off the fourth to lead 2-1.

Ryan Zimmerman added a run-scoring double in the second for the Nationals.

Jose Martinez had four hits for the Cardinals.

Mikolas gave up four runs on four hits over seven innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Tommy Milone started for Washington and gave up two runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings.

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After standout performances, Nationals' 1B Ryan Zimmerman named NL Player of the Week

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USA TODAY Sports

After standout performances, Nationals' 1B Ryan Zimmerman named NL Player of the Week

Ryan Zimmerman is on a hot streak for the Washington Nationals, and he was named NL Player of the Week, the league announced Monday.

Quite frankly, this isn't exactly a surprise. 

The Nats' 33-year-old slugger completed a wild week going 10-for-21, finishing with a .476 batting average along with a .538 on-base percentage and slugging at 1.048. 

He particularly stunned in Washington's 9-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, blasting two homers and driving in six runs. The first baseman finished the week with 12 RBI in seven games, along with three total dingers and three doubles.

Zimmerman returned to the Nats' lineup on July 20 off the 60-day disabled list after being out since the beginning of May with an oblique injury. Since his return, in 15 games, he's batted .354 with four home runs and 18 RBI after going onto the list hitting just .217.

Other Nats who have previously won the NL Player of the Week Award this season are Max Scherzer, Mark Reynolds and Adam Eaton.

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