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Zimmermann, Treinen find trouble in Nats' loss to Cubs

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Zimmermann, Treinen find trouble in Nats' loss to Cubs

The Nationals lineup has suffered through a well-documented stretch of futility in recent weeks, but on Sunday there were glimpses of hope. They struck for three runs off eight hits against the Cubs, representing a sign of progress given just how bad they have been lately.

Three runs is a step in the right direction, but not enough to give their pitchers any sort of breathing room. Combined with rough outings for both Jordan Zimmermann and reliever Blake Treinen, the result was another loss, the Nats' eighth defeat in their last 10 games.

Zimmermann struggled from the start and gave up four runs over five innings with 12 Cubs batters having reached base on 10 hits and two walks. Zimmermann took the loss and broke a streak of nine consecutive quality starts along the way.

"I just wasn’t locating. I was leaving the balls over the middle. My breaking pitches were terrible. It’s gonna happen when you don’t have all your pitches. I just wasn’t sharp today," he said.

Zimmermann was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fifth inning after throwing 92 pitches. It was the first time in 10 starts that Zimmermann did not last at least until the sixth.

The loss broke Zimmermann out of what was his best stretch of the season - three earned runs in his previous four outings - but the veteran right-hander was happy to limit the damage in several innings that could have turned the game into a blowout.

"Every inning I had guys on base. Just working out of jams all day. It should’ve been a lot worse than it was. I guess I can take that out of it. 12 base runners in five innings and they only got four runs which was halfway decent," he said.

Zimmermann left with the Nationals down 4-2 and Washington cut the lead to one in the bottom of the fifth. But Treinen made matters worse by allowing two runs in the sixth inning.

Treinen retired the first two batters he faced before giving up two runs on a sequence that included three walks (one intentional), a double, an RBI single and a wild pitch that brought home Anthony Rizzo.

Treinen has had an up-and-down season and now holds a 4.60 ERA through 23 appearances on the year.

"I lost the ball up for Rizzo to hit down the line. Then I didn't make pitches afterwards that compounded the issue. It ended up costing us," he said.

"It's pretty obviously frustrating, I think. I think [the bullpen is] better than what the public eye may perceive and we know that. Especially myself, I need to be better and more consistent."

The Nationals have an assortment of issues to work through during their eight-game road trip which begins on Tuesday against the New York Yankees. Runs are coming at a premium and their pitching has been inconsistent across the board. 

Matt Williams shrugged off the outings of both Zimmermann and Treinen as he looked ahead to New York.

"Get the lead, keep the lead, that's the plan. So we need to start doing a little more of that," he said.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.