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Wire Taps: Nationals back in D.C. to take on Phillies in three-game set

After going 4-5 on their nine-game, three-city trip to Philadelphia, Seattle and L.A., the Washington Nationals are back in the nation's capital tonight looking for revenge against the Phillies, who swept the three-game set in Citizens Bank Park last week.

Jonathan Ernst

Los Angeles Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly knew he and his team let one get away from them on Wednesday, in the 8-5 loss that gave the Washington Nationals two of three in Chavez Ravine.

"Obviously it's a game you want to win," Mattingly said after the 14-inning, five-hour, thirty-four minute marathon. "You've been out there for five hours and you have chances to win it."

"Obviously it's a game you want to win. You've been out there for five hours and you have chances to win it." -QOTD: Dodgers' skipper Don Mattingly on loss to the Nationals

Asked to describe the game in his own words after they won, Nats' skipper Matt Williams was at a loss.

"I don't know. I don't know," Williams said. "I can describe it as the longest one in team history. We can go from there."

The win gave the Nationals Ws in four of the last six games of their nine-game road trip, which started with three straight losses in Philadelphia.

After taking 2 of 3 from the Seattle Mariners and 2 of 3 from the Dodgers, the Nats are now back in the nation's capital to play three with the Phillies and three with the NL East's second-place Atlanta Braves.

The Nationals start the six-game homestand with a 7.0-game lead in the division, but as Wednesday's starter Jordan Zimmermann said hours after he left the game in L.A., no one is looking past tonight's game.

"We're just playing one game at a time," Zimmermann said, "and coming out and trying to play our best game every day and winning those last two series definitely helps after getting swept by Philly."

The Nationals will have a chance this weekend to repay the Phillies for the lack of hospitality in Citizens Bank Park.

Until tonight's 7:05 PM EDT start, which features Stephen Strasburg on the mound in D.C., here are all the links that are fit to print.

Warning: It's about to get jinxy.

Links and lots of them, starting... RIGHT NOW!!!!


• "Yet, the fact that Roark has outperformed Gonzalez in 2014 may not be the determining factor in Williams’ decision. Rather, this could come down to a question of right vs. left — in two ways." - "With great pitchers comes great postseason responsibility" - Jon Paul Morosi, FOX Sports


• "It's not known if LaRoche can play Friday against the Phillies. It helps the Nationals have a day off Thursday." - "Injured LaRoche collects five RBIs in Nats' win" - Bill Ladson,

• "We could spend the next week breaking down the Nationals’ insane, 8-5, 14-inning victory Wednesday afternoon." - "More from the Nationals’ ridiculous win" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "Xavier Cedeno, Aaron Barrett and Blake Treinen combined to work 2 2/3 innings. They allowed a collective two hits, struck out four and walked none." - "Nationals Pastime: Takeaways from the thriller in L.A." - Dan Kolko,

• "It didn't help that the sun was in Werth's eyes. He knew if the ball carried to his left side, he would have a tough time catching the ball." - "Sun a factor in Werth's crucial error" - Bill Ladson,

• "During a week in which the Nationals’ lineup played 'Home Run Derby' in key series against the Mariners and Dodgers, it was Harper who led the way with four dingers in six games." - "Nationals Stock Watch: Is Bryce Harper back?" - Daniel Shiferaw, Nats Insider

• "The Nats have gotten healthy; tightened their defense; incorporated the more efficient base running and situational hitting demanded by their new manager..." - "Nationals wouldn’t look at all out of place in the World Series" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• "Entering Friday's action against the Phillies, the Nationals were seven games ahead of the Braves in the National League East race. The magic number to clinch the title is 17." - "Clippard driven to steer Nats to World Series summit" -

• "In this week’s episode of ‘Baseball in the District,’ Tim Murray of ESPN 980 and I discussed whether the Nationals and Dodgers could meet in the NLCS." - "Baseball in the District – ESPN 980’s Thom Loverro & AP’s Fred Frommer" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider

• "Beginning tonight, the Nats have 24 games remaining on the regular-season schedule, to be played in 25 days." - "Washington Nationals reach the home stretch of the season" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "[Strasburg's] last turn, during which he gave up one earned run in 7 2/3 innings against the Mariners on Saturday, was one of the good ones." - "Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals - September 5, 2014" - Joe Morgan, Preview

• "In his four previous seasons, he has been a rookie sensation, a rehabbing Tommy John survivor, a victim of precaution and a member of a staff playing out the string." - "Two years removed from the controversial shutdown, Strasburg is at ease with himself" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

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


• "Cabrera has a .240/.333/.452 slash line with the Nationals, but he's contributed some big hits and shown surprising power." - "Grading biggest moves at MLB trade deadline a month later" - Jerry Crasnick, ESPN

• "LaRoche is one of those players who doesn't get much attention, a reliable veteran who isn't a star nor an up-and-coming prospect who may turn into one." - "Underrated LaRoche flies under the radar" - David Schoenfield, SweetSpot Blog - ESPN

• "If I were to pick today (and I'll probably change my mind) I'll go with the Angels and Nationals meeting up in the World Series..." - "The importance of home field advantage in the World Series" - Scott Lindholm, Beyond the Box Score

• "With a seven-game lead in the NL East, the Nats are all but a lock to at least qualify for the postseason this year." - "The Nationals’ Lineup, Not Their Rotation, Makes Them Great" - Drew Fairservice, FanGraphs Baseball

• "Mattingly was obviously attempting to be Donnie Positive, but right now, what is needed is Donnie Darko..." - "Dodgers' Don Mattingly needs to set his alarm" - Bill Plaschke, LA Times


Low-A Hagerstown: "The Hagerstown Suns (1-0, 87-53) have had a flair for the dramatic all year, and that continued in game one of the Northern Division Championship Series on Wednesday night..." - "Suns notch comeback walk-off win in game one" - Eli Pearlstein, Hagerstown Suns News

High-A Potomac: "The Potomac Nationals (2-0, 2-0) are headed to their second straight Mills Cup Championship Series after completing a two game sweep of the Lynchburg Hillcats..." - "P-Nats Headed To Mills Cup Championship Series For Second Consecutive Year" - Potomac Nationals News

• "The Hagerstown Suns had a thrilling walk-off win in game one of the Northern Division championship series of the South Atlantic League, defeating Greensboro 3-2." - "Hagerstown and Potomac with playoff wins, Cedeno makes huge impact for Nationals" - Byron Kerr,

• "The Potomac Nationals clinched the Northern Division Championship Series by sweeping the Lynchburg Hillcats 2-0. The P-Nats won on Wednesday 4-2 and won 4-3 on Thursday." - "P-Nats Sweep Lynchburg!" - Tom Blaz, DC Pro Sports Report

• "After taking the first game of the Carolina League's best-of-3 Northern Division Series on Wednesday, Class A Advanced Potomac burst out of the gate Thursday with a leadoff home run from Isaac Ballou." - "Washington Nationals prospect Isaac Ballou homers, scores twice as Potomac Nationals clinch trip to Mills Cup Championship Series" - Josh Jackson, News

Triple-A Syracuse: "The Syracuse Chiefs fell behind early in an eventual 8-2 loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox in Game Two of the Governor's Cup Semifinals on Thursday night from McCoy Stadium." - "Pawtucket Red Sox beat Syracuse Chiefs, 8-2, in Game Two" - Syracuse Chiefs News

• "With the minor league regular season finished, here's a look at some of the top performers, including Syracuse's Michael Taylor." - "Nationals Minor League Spotlight: Season Wrap-up" - Nate Harold, Pressbox DC

• "One of the most consistent players in the farm system this season, Difo elevated his game in the month of August." - "Federal Reserve: Pitcher and Hitter of the Month Awards" - Zach Spedden, The Nats Blog


• "The legal battle over Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and the Nationals’ television rights will drag on for, at least, another three months." - "Nationals, Orioles to meet in December over MASN dispute" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "Called" - Harper, Nationals Baseball

• "Statistics, Deception and Boswell" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race

• "Comments on yesterday’s 14-inning marathon" - Nat Anacostia, Nats Noodles

• "Representatives from the Nationals and Astros are expected to make a presentation to the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council on Sept. 11 about a proposal to share a new spring training facility..." - "Palm Beach County to consider spring training proposal by Nationals, Astros" - James Wagner, Washington Post


Braves: "Here is a look at some of the offensive components that have put the Braves in this position where they are fighting for a chance to play in October..." - "For Braves, no time like now for offensive boost" - Mark Bowman,

Mets: "Alderson reiterated that Dilson Herrera needed to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason anyway, so it made sense to promote him when the playing time became available because of Daniel Murphy's calf injury." - "Morning Briefing: Alderson speaks" - Adam Rubin, Mets Blog - ESPN New York

Marlins: "Although their wild-card hopes are still clinging by a thread, the Marlins (67-71) do have a good shot at accomplishing something they’ve never done before — call the league’s Most Valuable Player their own." - "Voters assess credentials of Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton against Clayton Kershaw for NL MVP" - Manny Navarro,

Phillies: "Sizemore has often found himself on the same bench as Darin Ruf, who has been even more productive in the last 6 weeks when he has been on the field." - "Phillies outfield is in a state of flux" - Ryan Lawrence, Philadelphia Daily News