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Nationals take 2 of 3 from Braves: Denard Span, Bryce Harper talk series with Atlanta

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The Washington Nationals took two of three from the Atlanta Braves, but in conversations with reporters, Matt Williams, Denard Span and Bryce Harper refused to enterain thoughts of clinching the division or anything else but the next game.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

In taking 2 of 3 games from the Atlanta Braves this week in the homestand-ending series in the nation's capital, the Washington Nationals improved to 6-10 against their NL East rivals in 2014 after starting the season 1-7 against the defending division champs.

Have the five wins in the last eight games changed the narrative about the Braves being in the Nats' heads over the past two seasons?

Nationals' manager Matt Williams has only been around for this season's games with Atlanta, and he reiterated what he said earlier this season when asked yesterday if there has been a shift.

"We're done with this series, now we're going into New York against a team that has really good starting pitching and their power bullpen..." -Matt Williams on taking it one game at a time

"Not for me," Williams told reporters after the Nats dropped the series finale to the Braves on Wednesday.

"As I said back then, I have no history in that regard. What we need to do is execute, try to win games and go from there. So it doesn't change. Everything is all still the same at this point. We're done with this series, now we're going into New York against a team that has really good starting pitching and their power bullpen, so it doesn't get any easier from here, but we're going to have to execute and play well if we're going to win that too."

"We've got the Mets coming up and we're facing four good pitchers," Bryce Harper said when asked if he allowed himself to think about potentially clinching the division in the next weeks.

"We've got Bartolo [Colon], [Dillon] Gee, [Zack] Wheeler and [Jon] Niese, I mean those are four guys that are pretty dang good. And going into the Braves also and Miami, and Miami is tough. I don't think everybody realizes how good of an organization they are and how good of a team they are. So I think we've got some work ahead of us and hopefully we win some ballgames."

As Denard Span said, however, it was important to take the series from the Braves this week, and leave the head-to-head matchup with an eight-game lead in the East.

"We knew that in order to win the division you've got to beat them," Span said. "So it was definitely a good series for us. We did what we wanted to which was win the series against them and we're sitting pretty good."

The 30-year-old Nationals' center fielder and leadoff man wasn't biting on talk of clinching either though.

"We're still just taking it one game at a time," Span said, echoing what his manager has been saying for weeks.

"If it happens before, if it happens after, as long as it happens, it really doesn't matter where, whether it's in Atlanta or Miami or wherever." -Denard Span on potentially clinching the NL East

"If it happens there, if it happens before, if it happens after, as long as it happens, it really doesn't matter where, whether it's in Atlanta or Miami or wherever."

"It's nice to be able to win a series," Harper said.

"To be able to come out strong and really play good baseball these past couple of days. Our pitching did very well, club hit the baseball in key situations pretty dang well. And it was nice to win a series."

Williams said that he and his team steadfastly refuse to get caught up in talk of clinching or magic numbers, securing home field advantage or anything other than the task at hand.

"We don't go there," the first-year skipper said. "We absolutely refuse to go there. Tomorrow is the most important game. We have to think about that. So it's true, it's boring, but it's true, it's really true, because if you get ahead of yourself, you're doing yourself no good."

"We just refuse to go there because tomorrow is really important for us, we'll try to get that one."

"You've got to go in and win ballgames," Harper said.

"If you don't win ballgames then something could happen. If you win ballgames, then what you want to have happen happens. But we've got to go into every single series trying to win the series."

The Nationals start a four-game series with the Mets tonight at 7:10 PM EDT in Citi Field.

The Nats start the four-game set 10-2 against New York so far this season with seven games with the Mets left.