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Nationals 8-3 over Diamondbacks for split of four-game set in D.C.

Ian Desmond led the charge. That's right. Ian Desmond led the charge and Wilson Ramos drove in two runs as the Washington Nationals supported Joe Ross and earned a split with the Arizona Diamondbacks with an 8-3 win.

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5. #LetJoeStay: Joe Ross gave up just two runs in 6 ⅓ innings in his last start before this afternoon's against the Arizona Diamondbacks, limiting the New York Mets to four hits, two of them home runs, in a 3-2 loss in Citi Field.

With the loss, Washington's 22-year-old righty fell to (2-3) after six starts, with a 3.00 ERA, a 2.50 FIP, four walks (0.92 BB/9) and 40 Ks (9.23 K/9) in 39 IP, over which he's held opposing hitters to a combined .218/.252/.317 line.

"Just unrattled. For such a young pitcher he's not rattled. Regardless of situation, who he's facing, it doesn't matter." -Matt Williams on Nats' starter Joe Ross

His struggles in his first run in the majors, have come against left-handed hitters, who have a .295/.344/.533 line against him. Ross has held right-handed hitters to a .163/.184/.165 line so far this season.

The home runs he allowed in the loss to the Mets were both hit by Lucas Duda, New York's hard-hitting, red-hot lefty, who took Ross deep in the fourth and seventh for the only two runs the rookie right-hander allowed.

"He pitched well," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the loss. "Couple of swings from Duda, other than that he pitched really well for us, gave us a chance. We scored a couple early, but we couldn't muster anything after that."

"He was hitting the ball hard," Ross said when asked about Duda's blasts.

"Both home runs, they were okay pitches," he continued.

"I wouldn't say down the middle by any means, but obviously he's got a lot of power. I guess I kind of learned my lesson: Be a little more careful next time. But he had a hell of a game."

The home runs were just the second and third Ross has allowed in his 39 major league innings pitched this season (0.69 H/9), and the seventh and eighth he's allowed in 115 IP overall on the year (0.62 HR/9).

This afternoon in the nation's capital, against a left-hand heavy (5 of 9) D-Backs' lineup, Ross was able to keep the gave up one home run by left-handed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fifth, but

His outing began with a scoreless 18-pith first in which he worked around a one-out single to right by Diamonbacks' shortstop Cliff Pennington.

Ross threw a 1-2 slider outside by a chasing Yasmany Tomas for out no.3 of a quick, 12-pitch, 1-2-3 second that left him at 30 pitches.

Another slider out of the zone got Ender Inciarte swinging for out no.3 of a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 third that pushed the right-hander up to 45 pitches.

David Peralta doubled to center with one down in the top of the fourth, but was stranded there two outs later as Ross completed his fourth scoreless frame after just nine pitches. 54 total.

In the first at bat of the fifth, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a 1-1 change out to right, over the high wall at the end of the out-of-town scoreboard to cut the Nationals' lead in half, 2-1 after four and a half. 17-pitch frame. 71 total.

Ross came back out for the sixth with a 4-1 lead and retired the first two batters he faced before a two-out single to center by Jake Lamb. Aaron Hill grounded into a force in the next at bat, however, ending an 18-pitch frame that left the right-hander at 89 pitches.

• Joe Ross' Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 89 P, 62 S, 7/3 GO/FO.

4. Hellboy vs the Nationals: When the Washington Nationals faced 28-year-old Diamondbacks' right-hander Jeremy Hellickson back in May in Arizona's Chase Field, they scored four runs total on four hits and four walks in 5 ⅔ innings pitched in what ended up a 9-6 win.

Hellickson received no decision in the outing, his first career start against the Nationals franchise.

In thirteen starts since they last faced him, Hellickson has gone (6-4) in 13 starts, with Arizona 8-5 in his outings, over which he's put up a 4.44 ERA, 17 walks (2.10 BB/9), 66 Ks (8.14 K/9) and a .247/.293/.435 line against in 73 IP.

On the year, before this afternoon's start in the series finale in D.C., Hellickson was (7-7) with a 4.95 ERA, a 4.34 FIP, 32 walks (2.59 BB/9) and 94 Ks (7.62 K/9) in 111 IP, over which opposing hitters have put up a .265/.322/.469 line.

His last outing, however, was his shortest of the season, a 3 ⅓-inning start against the Houston Astros in which he gave up seven hits, three of them home runs, and seven runs total, six earned, in what ended up a 9-2 loss.

"The command was definitely not where it’s been the last month or so," he told reporters, including AZCentral writer Nick Piecoro, after the loss, which followed a month of July in which he was (2-1) in four starts with a 1.88 ERA and a .200/.250/.289 line against in 24 innings.

"I thought my stuff was good enough to keep us in the ballgame and that’s really what I’m most disappointed in."

Hellickson took the mound today in Nationals Park, trying to lead the D-Backs to a series win over the Nats, and worked around a two-out walk to Bryce Harper in a scoreless 15-pitch first.

With one down in the second, however, Hellickson grooved a first-pitch change to Ian Desmond, who hit his 12th home run of the season off the back wall in the visitor's bullpen in left. 1-0 Nationals. 13-pitch frame, 28 total after two.

Yunel Escobar took a 90 mph fastball on the left elbow with one down in the Nationals' third, spiking his helmet in frustration after the HBP. Anthony Rendon walked in the next at bat to put two on in front of Bryce Harper, who took the second straight free pass, loading the bases in front of Clint Robinson. Robinson K'd looking at a 3-2 fastball that appeared to be outside, but Jayson Werth beat out an infield single in the next at bat, sliding headfirst into the bag to beat the throw from third. 2-0? Nope. The play was reviewed and the call was reversed. Bases loaded, one out, and nothing. 30-pitch frame. 58 total.

Ian Desmond doubled on a liner off the left field wall in the first at bat of the fourth. Wilson Ramos lined a 3-2 heater to center for a double that put runners on the corners with no one out and Michael "RISP" Taylor stepped in next and hit a grounder to second to bring Desmond in. 2-0. 29-pitch fourth for Hellickson. 87 total.

Bryce Harper lined a single to left with one down in the fifth and took second on a pitch in the dirt to Jayson Werth one out later. Werth K'd swinging on another curve in the dirt that got away from catcher Oscar Hernandez, allowing the left fielder to reach first and Harper to take third and Ian Desmond took a base-loading walk in front of Wilson Ramos, who lined a 1-0 fastball to left to drive in two runs and end Hellickson's outing.

Jeremy Hellickson's Line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 104 P, 59 S, 7/2 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: With their win last night, the D-Backs improved to 8-3 in their last 11 games, 9-4 in the last 13 and 10-6 in the last 16.

• The Diamondbacks took two of the first three games in Nationals Park, and a win today would give them their first series win over the Nats since August of 2011 in the nation's capital.

• D-Backs' catcher Welington Castillo was 2 for 4 in the Diamondbacks' 11-4 win last night, leaving him 11 for 28 with six home runs on Arizona's road trip (8 games).

• The D-Backs 1-4 hitters were 11 for 21 in last night's win.

Paul Goldschmidt, who stole two bases last night, is one shy of 20, which would give him a 20/20 season.

• The Nationals fell to 29-21 at home this season with last night's loss.

• Bryce Harper collected just one hit last night, but he's reached base in 31 of his last 32 games.

• The season series with the D-Backs was on the line today after the two teams split the first six games this season.

2. Turning Point(s): After getting a much-needed rest on Wednesday night, beleaguered Nationals' shortstop Ian Desmond came out swinging this afternoon, crushing a first-pitch changeup from Jeremy Hellickson and sending HR no.12 of 2015 to the back of the left field/visitor's bullpen to put the Nats up 1-0 with one down in the second inning of the series finale in the nation's capital.

• A one-out, hit-by-pitch and back-to-back walks loaded the bases in the Nationals' third, but Clint Robinson K'd looking on 3-2 fastball off the plate, outside that was called a strike and Jayson Werth grounded out to third to end the threat. Hellickson threw 30 pitches in the frame, but escaped unscathed.

• Ian Desmond was 2 for 2 today after he lined a double to left to start the Nationals' fourth and he scored from third after a single to center by Wilson Ramos when Michael Taylor hit a grounder to the right side of the infield. 2-0.

• D-Backs' first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia cut the Nationals' lead in half with a solo home run to right on a 1-1 change in the first at bat of the fifth. 2-1 Nationals.

• Bryce Harper singled with one down in the Nats' fifth, took second on a passed ball and third on a strike three/wild pitch to Jayson Werth and scored when Wilson Ramos hit a bases-loaded liner to left, driving in two runs to put the Nationals up 4-1 after five.

1. The Wrap-Up: Andrew Chafin recorded the final out of the fifth for the D-Backs.

Right-hander Allen Webster came out for the bottom of the sixth and issued a one-out walk to Anthony Rendon in front of Bryce Harper, who took his third walk of the game. But both runners were stranded.

Casey Janssen came on for the Nationals in the seventh and gave up a leadoff walk to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a single to center by Yasmany Tomas. Welington Castillo's single to center loaded the bases with no one out. Chris Owings popped to short center for out no.1. Ender Inciarte takes a first-pitch fastball to right by a diving Clint Robinson for a two-run single. 4-3 Nats.

Matt Thornton popped Cliff Pennington up to short right for out no.2. David Peralta's grounder to short ended the threat with the Nationals still up by one.

Webster returned in the bottom of the seventh inning and hit Michael Taylor with two out. Taylor stole his 13th base of the season with Ryan Zimmerman at the plate and scored when Zimmerman lined a double off the center field wall, 5-3 Nationals.

Drew Storen issued a two-out walk to Jarrod Saltalamacchia after retiring the first two batters on four pitches, but Yasmany Tomas popped out to the infield to end a nine-pitch frame. Still 5-3 Nationals.

Brad Ziegler gave up back-to-back singles by Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper that put runners on first and third with two outs, and both runners scored on a line drive home run to right by Clint Robinson that put the Nationals up 8-5.

Blake Treinen returned the majors with a scoreless frame, working around a two-out single to close it out. Ballgame. 8-3 final as the Nationals earn a split of the four-game set.

Nationals now 56-51