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Wire Taps: Nationals sweep Pirates, start four-game set with D-Backs tonight

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The Washington Nationals swept their three-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates and won their sixth straight game overall, a new season high. They also played some at-times ugly baseball and blew a save. But they won! They won!

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

"It wasn't the prettiest one, but it doesn't have to be," Matt Williams said of the Washington Nationals' 6-5 extra innings win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. "The guys fought hard."

The Nationals and Pirates traded leads and blown saves in the series finale in Nationals Park, but the Nats came out on top for the third time in the three-game set and the sixth straight game overall.

"From a fan's perspective, that's a great game. Lots to cheer about. Last minute, last inning comeback and winning the game on a walk-off..." -QOTD: Matt Williams on the Nats' extra innings win on Sunday

The crowd of 34,430 in attendance in the nation's capital was treated to an error and drama-filled affair which featured four errors, just one extra base hit, 20 hits total between the two teams, 11 runs total and the two blown saves.

So what was Williams' takeaway from the second straight comeback and walk-off win?

"Just that they don't quit, they don't quit fighting," he said. "We've got a lot of tenacity in there, so that's a good sign, a very good sign. We've been in that situation this year, so it's not something that's new. It's not where we want to be, but if you have to come back in a game then you have to come back."

As for the ugly/prettiness of the Nats' 69th win?

"From a fan's perspective, that's a great game. Lots to cheer about. Last minute, last inning comeback and winning the game on a walk-off, those are all good things. It's not a whole lot of fun in the dugout, but we'll take it. We're not giving that one back."

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

• "[Tyler] Moore has been in this very spot in the majors, with the Nationals — shoot, in the playoffs. But this is late July in the International League." - "Tyler Moore's major league dreams meet minor league reality" - Barry Svrluga, The Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "What’s coming into focus is that the Nats’ organization, from smart drafting and player development through judicious trades and free agent signings, looks better than the Nats’ star power." - "Nationals’ success during stars’ down years shows team will contend for years to come" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• "With Soriano having pitched four of the past five days during a six-game winning streak, Williams did leave the door open for giving him some rest..." - "Washington Nationals don't plan on changing closers" - Andrew Simon, nationals.com: News

• "Stammen’s performance on Saturday caps a stretch in which he has fired 7 1/3 scoreless innings over three outings." - "Craig Stammen’s improvement continues" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "Through four appearances with his new team, Thornton has yet to allow a run. He has retired 11 of the 13 batters he’s faced..." - "Nationals’ Matt Thornton thriving as new face in NL" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider

• "Werth talked about the moments leading up to his entry into the game and what manager manager Matt Williams was thinking." - "Hairston, Werth, Fister and Soriano after Nationals 6-5 win" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "And as of Sunday afternoon, Span said there's yet to be any dialogue between him and the front office regarding next year." - "Span hasn't heard from Nats on '15 option" - Daniel Popper, nationals.com: News

• "Many readers have asked why the Nationals are playing Sunday’s game at 5:05 p.m. instead of the standard 1:35 p.m. We asked the Nationals for an answer..." - "Why the Nationals are playing at 5:05 p.m. Sunday" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "Pennant races in Major League Baseball are supposed to be thrilling, they are supposed to keep fans at the edge of their seats." - "Nats sweep Pirates with second walk-off win in as many nights" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider

• "Earlier this week, Drew Storen noted that to win a pennant, you need to not only win the games where things go smoothly, you need to win the ugly games, too." - "Nationals Pastime: Williams' discusses Nats' second straight walk-off win" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "All season, the Nationals' defense has been Doug Fister's greatest weapon." - "Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals - August 17, 2014" - Daniel Popper, MLB.com WSH Recap

• "With the team playing well and the Nationals enjoying a six-game division lead, the team has been cautious with Werth, and he has been with himself." - "Jayson Werth plays for the first time in a week after resting shoulder" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "Home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher originally determined the pitch had not hit Taylor. Williams trotted onto the field and issued a manager's challenge after a short discussion with Fletcher." - "Washington Nationals win challenge: Michael Taylor was HBP" - Daniel Popper, nationals.com: News

• "Werth took swings to test his shoulder and came out during the ninth inning to talk to manager Matt Williams. The skipper, however, told him he would not be used." - "Werth fights through pain to help Nats off bench in win over Pirates" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider

• "Nationals and Pittsburgh in back and forth affair (Nats win 6-5 in 11 on Hairston sac fly)" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "The D-backs, on the other hand, will call on Vidal Nuno. The D-backs are 0-7 in games Nuno has started since joining the team in early July -- though not all necessarily because of Nuno's pitching." - "Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals - August 18, 2014" - Adam Lichtenstein, MLB.com Preview

• Your Daily Message from The Dalai Lama on Twitter (@DalaiLama):

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "This is skewed by great bunters such as the Los Angeles Dodgers' Dee Gordon and the Washington Nationals' Denard Span often leading off." - "Sacrifice bunts often dicey" - Bryan O'Connor, High Heat Stats

• "The Washington Nationals held a Bill Taft bobblehead giveaway Sunday night. It was huge." - "101 Years in the Making: Bill Taft Bobblehead Night Huge at Nationals Park" - Daniel J. Flynn, Breitbart.com

• "Zimmermann is having another impressive season, ranking ninth in the NL with a 2.92 ERA. … He has a 1.69 ERA in his past four starts." - "Diamondbacks' Josh Collmenter showing signs of fatigue" - Nick Piecoro, AZCentral Sports

• "With six weeks left in the season, the list of problems facing the Pirates is lengthy and not easy to tackle..." - "National complete 3-game sweep of Pirates, losing streak hits 5" - Rob Biertempfel, TribLIVE

• "His velocity isn’t down significantly, but the strikeout numbers have dropped rapidly as the summer months have dragged on." - "Bullpen Report: August 17, 2014" - Colin Zarzycki, FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball

• NATS MINORS:

Class-A Auburn: "State College hit huge home runs in both games, and the Auburn Doubledays dropped both ends of a Sunday doubleheader to the Spikes." - "Spikes sweep Doubledays in twin bill" - Evan Weston, Auburn Doubledays News

Low-A Hagerstown: "The Hagerstown Suns (36-21, 80-47) got shutout by the Lakewood BlueClaws (22-35, 49-77) for the second time in four nights on Sunday evening..." - "Suns blanked by BlueClaws twice in four-game series loss" - Eli Pearlstein, Hagerstown Suns News

High-A Potomac: "The Potomac Nationals (67-53, 29-22) survived a furious 9th inning rally by the Carolina Mudcats (54-68, 25-30) on Sunday night at Pfitzner Stadium to capture a 7-6 victory in the series finale." - "Potomac Nationals Game Recap vs. Carolina Mudcats" - Potomac Nationals News

Double-A Harrisburg: "The New Britain Rock Cats finished off a four-game sweep of the Harrisburg Senators with a 7-2 win on Sunday afternoon at New Britain Stadium." - "Kroenke Hangs Tough in Senators' Loss" - Perry Mattern, Harrisburg Senators News

Triple-A Syracuse: "The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, swept a doubleheader from the Rochester Red Wings on Sunday." - "The Syracuse Chiefs took both games of a doubleheader with the Rochester Red Wings on Sunday"- Syracuse Chiefs News

• NATSTOWN:

• "For the second straight game, the Washington Nationals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in a walkoff scenario, this time in 11 innings by the score of 6-5 at Nationals Park Sunday evening." - "Washington Nationals Game 122 Review: Nats Top Pirates Again in Walkoff Fashion" - Alyssa Wolice, District Sports Page

• "Williams said that Gonzalez, who earlier this season spent time on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation, feels good and hasn’t complained of any pain." - "Struggling Gio Gonzalez searching for curveball" - Andrew Simon, All Nats All the Time

• "Despite the great result, the Nationals gained no divisional ground over their past three games, as the Atlanta Braves improbably swept the MLB-leading Oakland Athletics." - "Late Comebacks Help Nats to Sweep" - Andrew Flax, The Nats Blog

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Phillies: "When the game went final a couple of hours later at AT&T Park, another regular occurrence became official: the Phillies lost." - "Phillies Notebook: Breaks don't go Phils' or Buchanan's way" - Ryan Lawrence, Philadelphia Daily News

Mets: "One of these days, Matt Harvey needs to remember — and that probably means before he hurts his arm again — that his job is to be a star young baseball pitcher..." - "Time for Mets ace Matt Harvey to grow up" - Mike Lupica, NY Daily News

Braves: "The Oakland Athletics arrived at Turner Field three nights ago with the best record in the Major Leagues. They left in a virtual tie for first place in the American League West..." - "Braves sweep A's to re-establish themselves as postseason contenders" - Michael Bauman, braves.com: News

Marlins: "Heaney (5-4) previously took a no-hitter into the seventh inning on July 22 in Iowa, but on Sunday went one inning further in his quest for the Zephyrs' first no-hitter since Brian Powell in 2001." - "Andrew Heaney takes no-hitter into 8th inning as New Orleans Zephyrs beat Reno 1-0" - NOLA.com