Wire Taps: Washington Nationals Swept; Danny Espinosa To Have MRI On Shoulder.

September 16, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa (8) fields a ground ball in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

The good news?: The Washington Nationals were 3-3 on their next-to-last road trip of 2012, leaving them 15 games over .500 at 45-30 away from the nation's capital this season. The bad? The Nats won all three of those games in New York and then got swept out of Turner Field by an Atlanta Braves team that has no intention of repeating last season's [epic] late-season collapse. The Nationals entered this weekend's three-game set in Hotlanta with an 8.5 game lead and left with a 5.5 game lead. Lest you think it didn't provide the Nats' NL East rivals with some momentum...

Chipper Jones told Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Carroll Rogers last night he wasn't necessarily counting his team out of the NL East race. "'They’ve got a pretty tough schedule down the stretch,'" Jones said, "'They’re playing a lot of teams still in the hunt for that last wildcard spot.'" Veteran infielder Dan Uggla told the AJC reporter much the same. "'We’ve got 15, 16 games left,'" Uggla was quoted stating, "'After what happened last year with us, we know anything can happen, so this put us back in the hunt a little bit.'" Braves' skipper Fredi Gonzalez? "'There’s still a lot of baseball left,'" Gonzalez told the Braves beat writer, "'Who knows what can happen?'" Davey Johnson on the other hand, told reporters, including The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore that even after the sweep at the hands of the Braves, "'I feel fine about where we’re at.'" What the Nats' 69-year-old skipper wasn't "fine" with, however, was the news he delivered on Danny Espinosa after last night's game. Espinosa ended the six-game road trip 1 for 21 with a walk, double and 11 Ks.

According to the Nats' manager, Espinosa asked out of last night's game left while complaining about a lack of strength and discomfort in his left shoulder. When Johnson told reporters, as quoted by MASN's Dan Kolko, that Espinosa had been asking Adam LaRoche about how his shoulder felt last season, all of NatsTown took a deep, "Now calm down," breath knowing LaRoche missed most of the 2011 campaign with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The Nats' second baseman is scheduled to have an MRI today. More info sure to follow. Til then, LINKS and lots of them... Starting RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

• "[Danny] Espinosa will receive an MRI exam on Monday afternoon on his left shoulder, which has bothered him for the past week, [Davey] Johnson said." - "Danny Espinosa to receive MRI exam on left shoulder, likely to miss at least three games" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "After a series in which he went 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts, [Danny] Espinosa informed hitting coach Rick Eckstein late in Sunday night's 5-1 loss that he was feeling weakness in his shoulder." - "Danny Espinosa to have MRI on left shoulder, could miss Dodgers series" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "'I'm a little worried about [Danny] Espinosa,' [Davey] Johnson said. 'I pinch hit for him because he doesn't have any strength.'" - "Nationals Pastime: Espinosa going for MRI on injured left shoulder" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "[Davey] Johnson said the injury has sapped [Danny] Espinosa of his strength, to the point that the manager's 'little iron man' even admitted it was bothering him toward the end of Sunday's game." - "Espinosa to have MRI on sore left shoulder" - Adam Berry, nationals.com: News

• "Between 13 walks, two hit batters and three errors, the Nationals effectively handed the Braves 18 base runners this series." - "Sorting out the Nationals’ sweep in Atlanta" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "The Braves are within 5 ½ games of the Nationals with 15 games to play. The Nationals have 16 games left, and all 16 are against teams still contending in the wild card..." - "Braves complete first sweep of Nats since ‘09 – updated" - Carroll Rogers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

• "'We've put ourselves in a great position,' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. 'We've played well all year. There's two weeks left of playing baseball.'" - "Nats swept by Braves, lead down to 5 1/2" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "Washington closed to 2-1 on Ian Desmond's RBI single in the sixth, but the Braves pulled away with a three-run seventh..." - "After getting swept, Nationals' lead over Braves down to 5 1/2" - Paul Newberry, AP/WashingtonExaminer.com

• "Manager Davey Johnson today gave his preference. He plans to apply pressure to both sides to bring LaRoche back to the Nationals next year." - "Davey Johnson wants Adam LaRoche back in 2013" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "With a two-run blast off the Braves' Tommy Hanson, [Adam] LaRoche recorded his 30th home run of the season..." - "LaRoche takes it up a notch" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "In addition to his big offensive numbers, [Adam] LaRoche has helped bring balance to a lineup that was predominantly right-handed in 2011..." - "Davey wants to see LaRoche back with Nats" - Adam Berry, nationals.com: News

• "The Nationals are close to clinching a playoff berth, the first in Washington since 1933." - "Wild card holds no big meaning for Nationals" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Even if the weekend breathed life back into the Braves, the Nationals focused on their standing rather than on the wasted weekend." - "Nationals vs. Braves: Atlanta wears down Gio Gonzalez to complete sweep, narrow gap in NL East" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• "Based on last year's playoff format, the Atlanta Braves would be the only wild card team and the Nationals would know what to expect once October rolls around." - "Second wild card team makes rush for playoffs intriguing for Nationals" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Nationals rookie outfielder Bryce Harper endured a rough summer as big league pitchers finally began adjusting to him..." - "The Baseball Page: Sept. 16, 2012" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "Manager Davey Johnson gave [Gio] Gonzalez every chance to become the first 20-game winner for the Montreal-Washington franchise since Ross Grimsley in 1978..." - "Gonzalez denied 20th, Braves sweep Nats 5-1" - Paul Newberry, AP/WTOP.com

• "Washington's magic numbers are as follows: three to clinch at least a Wild Card spot, 11 to win the NL East and 15 to clinch home field throughout the NL playoffs." - "Nationals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 17, 2012" - Adam Berry, nationals.com: News

• "[Michael] Morse said, flatly, 'I want to play Tuesday.' But he did not take batting practice today." - "Michael Morse hopeful for Tuesday return, Davey Johnson uncertain" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "When the Nats arrived here late Wednesday night, they had a season-high 8 ½-game lead." - "Nationals ready to turn the page after getting swept by Braves" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Two tough defensive plays allowed the Braves to turn a 2-1 lead into a 5-1 advantage, effectively wrapping up a three-game sweep in a 15-minute span." - "Nationals Pastime: Nats discuss another close one that got away" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "With a chance to become the majors' first 20-game winner -- and to do it on a national stage -- Gonzalez labored from the start and couldn't recover until it was too late." - "Instant analysis: Braves 5, Nats 1" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "The Nationals, meanwhile, enter the series with a playoff spot all but secured, even after their three-game sweep at the hands of the Braves this weekend." - "Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals - September 18, 2012" Mike Fiammetta, MLB.com Preview

• "Several veteran teammates have said they feel badly for [Stephen] Strasburg. Many have approached to tell him not to worry about how his teammates view him." - "Stephen Strasburg thinking along with the Nationals, even if he can’t pitch" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "The Nationals' outfielder has not taken batting practice since he was sent for tests on his left wrist on Wednesday morning in New York." - "Michael Morse hopeful to return to Nationals' lineup Tuesday" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "With 16 games remaining in the regular season, the Nationals are coming off a bit of a sloppy series." - "Nationals Pastime: Keeping it in perspective" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Indeed, as [Adam] LaRoche said, very little went the way Washington planned it this weekend, and Sunday's loss served as an example." - "Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves - September 16, 2012" - Adam Berry, MLB.com WSH Recap

Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama): "Training the mind is the source of inner peace."

• NATS MINORS:

• "Instructional workouts begin today in Viera, Fla., with dozens of the Nationals prospects on hand to work on several aspects of their games." - "Prospects Miller, Keyes and others work on new positions as instructional workouts commence" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Hagerstown/Low-A Pitching Staff Year in Review; 2012" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race

• "Jersey Sale" - Harrisburg Senators Fans

• "Instructional league workouts have begun for close to four dozen prospects in the Nationals organization." - "Daubach: Instructional league focused on fundamentals during first workouts" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Three Nats Named To 2012 BA All-Star Teams" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• NATSTOWN:

• "Braves sweep Nats. NL East lead down to 5 1/2 with 16 to play, but no worries..." - "Zim: 'We’re fine'" - Nats Enquirer

• "On Sunday night, Gio Gonzalez was going for win No. 20, hoping to present the closing argument for the National League Cy Young Award." - "Hope, dreams and fairness in the postseason" - Nationals Buzz: Ted Leavengood, MASNSports.com

• "September 17, 1916 - The Browns George Sisler wins his final game as a pitcher, besting Walter Johnson, 1-0, in St. Louis. Sisler will become St. Louis’ regular first sacker in 1917." - "This Date in Washington Senators History – 1924 Senators and Yanks are tied atop the AL" - Art Audley, D.C. Baseball History

• "Just throw this one — and the whole series — away. The Nats are off Monday and look to get back on track against Los Angeles next week at home." - "Washington Nationals Game 146 Review: Nats listless and punchless in 5-1 loss to Braves to complete sweep" - Dave Nichols, District Sports Page

• "Even after being swept by their chief rival this season, the Nats still have the best record in the majors, and they are still the only team in baseball with a winning percentage over .600." - "Why The Braves Sweep Doesn’t Matter" - Joe Drugan, The Nats Blog

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Mets: "At the age of 37 and having never won more than 11 games in a major league season prior to this one, no one understands the urgency of the situation better than Dickey." - "Mets’ Dickey out to run table in last 4 starts" - Don Burke, NYPOST.com

Phillies: "The second time Ryan Howard watched Chase Utley draw an intentional walk ahead of him Sunday, the slugger reacted in anger." - "Phillies Notes: Howard's struggles at the plate continue" - Matt Gelb, Philadelphia Inquirer

Marlins: "Jose Reyes was so convinced he had hit a go-ahead homer in Sunday’s eighth inning that he raised his right arm in celebration as he was rounding first base." - "Homer-stingy Marlins Park proves costly in Miami’s loss to Reds" - Clark Spencer, MiamiHerald.com

Braves: "Chipper Jones on if feel not out of the division yet: "They’ve got a pretty tough schedule down the stretch. They’re playing a lot of teams still in the hunt for that last wildcard spot." - "Braves postgame quotes after Sunday’s win over Nats" - Carroll Rogers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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