Wire Taps: Washington Nationals 7.5 Games Up On Atlanta Braves In NL East.

September 4, 2012; Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche (25) singles in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

With last night's big win over the visiting Chicago Cubs in D.C., and the Atlanta Braves' loss to the Colorado Rockies in Turner Field, the Washington Nationals opened up a 7.5 game lead in the NL East, the largest they've had all season. [They had a 7.0 game lead after an 8/21 win over Atlanta. 1/2 game, Clap Clap! 1/2 game, Clap, Clap!]. The Nationals have been in first place since May 22nd, they've spent all but 10 days this season in first in the NL East... and they drew just 17,648 to Nats Park last night? Danny Espinosa took to Twitter this morning to encourage NatsTown to turn out en masse in the nation's capital to watch Adam LaRoche hit more dingers and cheer the team on when they take on the Cubbies again tonight with Gio Gonzalez on the mound looking for win no.18 of 2012 after he threw a complete game last time out:

Don't let Danny down! Two more with the Cubs and then three with the Marlins this weekend in the next-to-next-to-last homestand on the regular season schedule. Who's going to Nats Park tonight? 7:05 pm EDT start. Til then, links and lots of them, starting RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

• "He has been the voice of the Nationals since their inception. His calls of 'Bang! Zoom!' and 'another curly W is in the books!' have become catch phrases every Nationals fan yearns to hear..." - "In his 15th baseball season, and first time with Nationals, Slowes calls a winner" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• NATS BEAT:

• "'I'm taking the decision out of [manager] Davey Johnson's hands and out of Stephen Strasburg's hands,' Rizzo said." - "Stephen Strasburg shut down is right decision by Rizzo, Nationals" - Tom Verducci - SI.com

• "John Lannan will join the Nationals’ rotation after they shut down Stephen Strasburg, but the Nationals will not simply plug him into Strasburg’s spot." - "John Lannan will join the Nationals rotation against the Braves" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "'I try to treat second like short,' Espinosa said. 'I’m going to play second base like I’m going to play short. [But compared to shortstop] the throw is not hard.'" - "Nationals' Danny Espinosa impressing with his glove work at second base" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "FoxSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi thinks the Nationals will go far, even without [Stephen] Strasburg." - "FOX Sports Video - Behind the Seams: Nationals treasure" - Jon Morosi

• "Official paid attendance: 17,648, the fourth-smallest crowd of the season on South Capitol Street and the smallest since May 2. Where'd everybody go?" - "On last night's attendance" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "They're back to 31 games above .500, tying the high-water mark for the year. Their magic number to win the division is 20 with 27 games left on their schedule." - "Nationals Pastime: Chipping away at the magic number, enjoying a special debut" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "The ball hit by Nationals rookie Tyler Moore in the fourth inning soared high above Soriano's head on a steep arc that put it well into the left-field bleachers." - "Nationals have a blast with six homers in win over Cubs" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "[Gio] Gonzalez tossed the first shutout of his career against the Cardinals on Friday in the Nationals' 10-0 victory." - "Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals - September 5, 2012" - Clark Goble, MLB.com Preview

• "It was huge when the Washington Senators -- yes, Senators -- did the impossible in 1969." - "Nationals can make up for decades of baseball mediocrity in Washington, D.C." - Terence Moore, nationals.com: News

• "Before he played in the season finale for the Class AAA Syracuse Chiefs on Monday, Manager Tony Beasley told [Corey] Brown, 26, that he would be added to the Nationals following the game." - "Corey Brown finally gets a home locker, Chien-Ming Wang returns from DL" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "They're 31 games over .500 again, matching their high-water mark of the year. They've scored at least eight runs in five of their last seven games." - "Nats club Cubbies" - Mark Zuckerman, CSNWashington.com

• "'Everybody in our lineup's capable of going out of the ballpark,' [Davey] Johnson said. 'We're in a pretty good place right now offensively.'" - "Nationals put on record-setting home run show vs. Cubs" - Stephen Whyno, Washington Times

• "Without breaking balls you better keep it down and you better have movement and today he didn't have either." - Dale Sveum on Cubs' Chris Rusin - "Cubs lose to Nationals, 11-5" - AP/WTOP.com

• "Tuesday’s game was the Nationals’ latest opportunity to take advantage of a struggling team. They tied a team record by launching six home runs, two of them by Adam LaRoche." - "Nationals vs. Cubs: Washington ties team record with six home runs in a rout" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "Maybe [Nationals general manager] Mike Rizzo should go to the Atlanta Braves school of shutting pitchers down, because they have the guy [Kris] Medlen." - Tommy John - "Surgery namesake John against Strasburg plan" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "On the first day of school for many in the region, the Nationals took the Cubs' beleaguered pitching staff to school." - "Instant analysis: Nats 11, Cubs 5" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "[Davey] Johnson has met with [John] Lannan twice in recent days and given him "a rough idea" of how he will be used between now and the Atlanta series." - "Lannan gives Nationals options with rotation" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "In reality, it was only a week ago that the offensive skid came to an end. And since then, the bats have come alive in a big way." - "Nationals Pastime: Johnson discusses Nats' 11-5 win" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "[Edwin] Jackson picked up the win, his ninth of the season, helping to push the Nationals to a magic number of 20 to clinch the National League East." - "Edwin Jackson good enough as Nationals' offense breaks out" - Stephen Whyno, Washington Times

• "Therein lies the rub: Harper’s outbursts occur when he’s angry at himself. When he’s angry with others, he’s cool as a cucumber." - "Temper tantrums? In sports, everyone can hear you scream" - Tracee Hamilton, The Washington Post

• "The plan, as outlined by manager Davey Johnson today, calls for Lannan to throw on the side and keep his arm fresh, but not to appear in a game for at least another five days." - "Lannan likely to start at Braves" - Mark Zuckerman, CSNWashington.com

• "Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Tuesday that [Sean] Burnett is taking anti-inflammatory medication and they'll monitor how he's feeling in the next few days." - "Sean Burnett on anti-inflammatory medicine for sore elbow" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Starting pitching carried the Nationals for most of the first half of the season, but if this team is going to go far in the postseason, the offense will have to also carry a heavy load." - "Hitting catching up with pitching, helping Nationals win again" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "For manager Davey Johnson, watching the Nationals on this night must have been like watching the Orioles teams he played for and managed." - "Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals - September 4, 2012" - Bill Ladson, MLB.com WSH Recap

• "With [Stephen] Strasburg, the Nationals have the majors' best starting pitcher ERA of 3.27. Subtract Strasburg's contributions this year, and the Nationals still have the majors' best starters' ERA at 3.32." - "Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson give Nats solid post-Strasburg rotation" - Joe Lemire - SI.com

• "On the first day of school for many in the region, the Nationals took the Cubs' beleaguered pitching staff to school." - "Instant analysis: Nats 11, Cubs 5" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "It was the fifth time this season they’d scored 11 runs or more and just the third time with 19 or more hits in a game." - "Homer-happy Nationals beat lowly Chicago Cubs" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Before Friday’s game against the Cardinals, Manager Davey Johnson announced that Lannan would be called up on Saturday..." - "Washington Nationals: After a season in exile, John Lannan could make a major impact" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama): "Many of our world's problems and conflicts arise because we have lost sight of the basic humanity that binds us together as a human family."

• NATS MINORS:

Class-A Short Season Auburn: Doubledays 9, Crosscutters 7 - Brandon Miller - 2 for 5, 1 2B; Blake Monar - 3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks - Auburn Doubledays Scoreboard

Class-A Short Season Auburn: "The Auburn Doubledays are the 2012 New York-Penn. League Pinckney Division Champions." - "Doubledays win spot in playoffs, claim Division title" - Ben Meyers, The Auburn Citizen

• "Auburn Doubledays Clinch Playoff Spot" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• NATSTOWN:

• "Because we’re now at the point of the season where Robin Ficker, known worldwide as among the most prominent hecklers in NBA history, is planning a protest at Nats Park." - "Robin Ficker plans to protest Strasburg Shutdown" - Dan Steinberg, DC Sports Bog - The Washington Post

• "Offensive production is coming from an unlikely source for the Nationals" - Joseph Michelizzi, Positive Mental Natitude

• "Oh, and there are now plenty of Nationals playoff tickets available on StubHub." - "A ticket for Game 1 of the 2012 World Series at Nationals Park for sale for $999,999.99" - NatsEnquirer

• "September 5, 1908 - Walter Johnson blanks New York for the second consecutive day, 6-0, at New York." - "This Date in Washington Senators History – Lemon hits two home runs in one inning" - Art Audley, D.C. Baseball History

• "Washington decided early on last season to nix the home run fireworks that shot up after a crushed long ball and replace it with something unique, a brand identifier, if you will." - "Nationals Park subhorn among the items defining Natitude" - Rachel Levitin, MASNSports.com

• "It was in the not-so-distant past when the Washington Nationals trotted out non-prospect rookie after rookie in meaningless September games..." - "Washington Nationals Game 135 Review: Nats pound six homers in 11-5 rout of Cubs" - Dave Nichols, District Sports Page

• "Congratulations, Christian Garcia" - Jenn Jenson, Nationals Fangirl

• "Pop the champagne! Pull up the banners! Print out the T-Shirts! Re-dust that spot on the mantle and put out the trophy!" - "It's Over" - Harper, Nationals Baseball

• "History, it seems, is being made daily by the 2012 Washington Nationals." - "Nats set D.C. record for homers in 11-5 rout over Cubs" - William F. Yurasko, William World News

• "Let Steve Decide!" - "Morning pixels: Beltway Baseball, everyone" - Dan Steinberg, DC Sports Bog - The Washington Post

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Mets: "'What I did tonight, in my opinion it was [garbage],' [Matt] Harvey said after allowing three runs over five innings in the Mets’ 5-1 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. 'I’m not happy about it.'" - "New York Mets defeated by St. Louis Cardinals, 5-1" - Mike Puma, NYPOST.com

Phillies: "Kyle Kendrick has long been my whipping boy, a figure I lash out at and burn in effigy with tongue aflame at every misstep..." - "Is Kyle Kendrick…Good?" - Paul Boye, Crashburn Alley

Braves: "[Tommy] Hanson limited the Colorado Rockies to two runs and five hits in 5-2/3 innings, but the Braves wasted scoring opportunities early and often in a 6-0 loss that turned sloppy late at Turner Field..." - "Braves waste plenty of chances in 6-0 loss to Rockies" - David O'Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Marlins: "Gorkys Hernandez hit his first career home run, Giancarlo Stanton crushed his 30th of the season and A.J. Ramos made a stellar major-league debut..." - "Positives for Miami Marlins, but a loss to Milwaukee Brewers is end result" - R.J. Rico, MiamiHerald.com

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