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Wood, Dodgers bats overpower Nationals 7-0

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Wood, Dodgers bats overpower Nationals 7-0

WASHINGTON -- The Los Angeles Dodgers aren't so blue anymore.

Alex Wood threw six shutout innings, Corey Seager hit a three-run homer during a five-run second and the Dodgers' rebound continued with a 7-0 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday.

Wood (15-3) allowed three hits with eight strikeouts and one walk for Los Angeles, which has won three in a row after losing 11 consecutive games and 16 of 17. The Dodgers lowered their magic number to clinch the NL West to six. They also took another step toward feeling like the monster team that sat 55 games over .500 on Aug. 25.

"We got challenged, we got beat up over there for a couple of weeks," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "It was nice for us to come into this environment against a club like that and to play well."

The teams entered the highly anticipated three-game series having clinched playoff berths and owning the top two records in the National League.

Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig homered in the Dodgers' first Washington appearance since winning Game 5 of the NL Division Series last October.

Los Angeles starting pitchers have allowed one earned run over 19 innings during the winning streak.

"In those 11 games, things didn't seem to work out," Puig said. "The pitchers are (now) getting outs in the precise moments and we're getting hits in the precise moments."

The NL East champion Nationals fell six games back of Los Angeles in the chase for home-field advantage in the playoffs.

"It's kind of like recon," Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth said of the potential playoff preview. "Good to see these guys if you do play them. ... Outside chance we can get home field advantage throughout."

Relievers Pedro Baez and Brock Stewart kept the shutout intact against the NL's top-scoring team.

The Dodgers scored all seven runs over the first three innings against Edwin Jackson (5-6).

Turner hit his 20th homer of the season in the first. Los Angeles battered Jackson for four extra-base hits in the second, starting with Puig's solo homer and ending with Seager's 3-run blast to center.

Andre Ethier was credited with a RBI ground-rule double in the second. His fly ball bounced into the stands after Werth lost track of its flight. Chase Utley had a run-scoring groundout in the third.

Jackson only lasted 2 1/3 innings, surrendering seven runs and six hits in his third consecutive loss.

"They didn't miss any fastball that I threw," Jackson said. "They were able to put it in play and get big hits off of it."

Wood also entered with back-to-back losses as his breakout season took a wrong turn during the Dodgers' slide. The All-Star left-hander had allowed nine runs in 11 innings over his previous two starts.

Wood struck out All-Star Daniel Murphy three times, including in the third with two outs and two runners on.

"I felt good about tonight," Wood said. "Those bats came alive early. I just wanted to put zeroes after we scored all those runs."

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Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

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USA TODAY Sports

Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner each hit a two-run single in Washington's five-run seventh inning, helping the Nationals beat the New York Mets 6-1 on Sunday.

Matt Adams added two hits and scored a run as Washington salvaged a split of its four-game set against New York. A preseason favorite to win the NL East and contend for a World Series championship, the disappointing Nationals hit the All-Star break with a 48-48 record, good for third in the division.

Jeremy Hellickson (4-1) pitched six crisp innings in his second straight win. The veteran right-hander allowed one run and two hits, struck out six and walked two.

Jose Reyes drove in Michael Conforto with a fielder's choice in the second, tying it at 1, but Washington grabbed control in the seventh.

Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon opened the inning with walks against Anthony Swarzak (0-2). Tim Peterson then came in and surrendered singles to Adams and Murphy, who came off the bench to hit for Michael A. Taylor.

Jerry Blevins replaced Peterson with two out and runners on second and third. But he hit Wilmer Difo and Adam Eaton before Turner's single gave Washington a 6-1 lead.

New York wasted a solid start by Corey Oswalt, who allowed two hits in five innings. The Mets got off to a fast start this year, but hit the break last in the division with a 39-55 record, a percentage point behind fourth-place Miami.

WAITING

A steady drizzle delayed the start by 47 minutes.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) pitched 5 2/3 innings in a rehab start for Class A Potomac. He allowed three runs, struck out seven and walked one. Strasburg has been on the disabled list since June 10.

Mets: Yoenis Cespedes is scheduled to play five simulated innings in left field at the team's facility in Florida on Monday. Mets manager Mickey Callaway said the 32-year-old outfielder, who has been sidelined by a right hip flexor and strained quadriceps, could return as the designated hitter next weekend against the Yankees If he is able to play on consecutive days.

MAKING MOVES

The Nationals recalled right-hander Trevor Gott from Triple-A Syracuse. Right-hander Austin Voth, who took the loss in his big league debut Saturday, was sent back to Syracuse.

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Taking a look at the numbers behind the Nationals' three All-Stars

Taking a look at the numbers behind the Nationals' three All-Stars

With a win on Sunday afternoon, the Nationals come into the All-Star break at 48-48. 

That's not great! It's certainly an underperformance given all the expectations, but the season hasn't been without some stellar individual performances . 

Take, for starters, Max Scherzer. Scherzer's on pace to have an even better year than his 2017 Cy Young-winning effort, which is mind-boggling. 

An even-more-refined command is what's made him better this season, as his walk rate is down below seven percent again after creeping up to 7.1 last year. It hasn't affected his strikeout rate, either, which has stayed steady at 34 percent. If the season ended today, it'd be the 4th straight year where he set a career-best in that department. 

Of all starting pitchers, he ranks second in WHIP, and K/BB percent. He has the third-lowest average against (.178) and third-best strikeout percentage (34.5). He's got a top-10 ERA and FIP as well. He's been the best pitcher in baseball this season, and will probably be in the conversation for N.L. MVP as well. 

If only the Nats could just go from Scherzer to Doolittle. The closer stopped walking people, too, and already has 22 saves after ending last year with 24. Had he not been put on the D.L. with a toe injury about a week before the All-Star game, he more than likely would have set his career high in saves before the break. 

He's currently on pace to post the second-best year of his career when it comes to strikeouts, too. He's getting Ks 37.1 percent of the time, which would be the highest since he posted a 37.7 in 2014. Same goes for his K/9. He also has a top-10 ERA and FIP. He's been one of the few relief pitchers that have been consistently reliable through the first half, and the Nats will need his toe to get real healthy real quick. 

And lastly there's Bryce Harper, who you've surely heard is not having an All-Star caliber season. His batting average is hovering around .200, he's striking out more than he has in four years, and he's getting eaten alive by the shift. He's also on pace to have one of his best power-hitting seasons ever and finish with close to 40 home runs, so even his bad years still find a way to be impressive. 

Harper also benefits from being one of the faces of baseball playing in front of his home fans. He's one of the most popular players in the league, and All-Star games find a way to get those people in. An All-Star game in D.C. without him would be objectively less enjoyable, so it was in everyone's interest to have him there. Stars just get the calls sometimes. 

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