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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats hold on for 5-4 win over Blue Jays, rubber match today...

Notes and quotes from the Nationals’ win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday...

Fun, In Toronto?:

MacKenzie Gore gave up a solo home run on a full-count curve he left up for Aaron Judge in the first inning of his outing in New York last week, then Judge got him again in the second.

The Yankees’ slugger hit a two-run blast off the Nationals’ lefty, who finished the night with six runs on his line, though just two of them were earned.

Gore went just four innings on 80 pitches in that start (40 of them to 10 batters he faced in the home-half of the second), before he was lifted from the start.

“Just left some pitches over the heart of the plate to a good hitter,” Gore said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “Tough inning. Just a tough day for us.”

“He’s facing one of the best hitters in the game, one of the best power hitters in the game,” manager Davey Martinez said of the rough outing. “So yeah, he just — he came back after that [second inning] and threw some good innings. I just wanted to get him out [of] there knowing the situation that we’re in with him. He had 80 pitches at that point, so we’ll reset him and get him going for his next outing, but he competes.”

Gore threw 79 pitches in three innings last night in Toronto, giving up a two-out single and a walk in the first, stranding both runners in an 18-pitch frame, after he recorded the first two outs on six pitches.

He threw 38 pitches total in the second, stranding a two-out double and another walk, then gave up a leadoff home run (on an 0-2 fastball up in the zone to Davis Schneider) and a two-out double he stranded in a 23-pitch third.

A nine-pitch fourth extended his outing, and he was done following an 18-pitch fifth inning, with the Nationals up 5-1 in what ended up a 5-4 win.

Gore generated just seven swinging strikes on the night, but he got 15 called strikes, 10 of them with his fastball, and the Blue Jays’ hitters fouled off 29 of his 106 total pitches. It led, in part, to his relatively brief outing, but his manager said he made some adjustments that got Gore as deep as he was able to go.

“He threw some good changeups,” Martinez told reporters after the win.

“Curveball was a lot better than the slider today, and he started throwing his curveball a little bit more, allowed him — that one inning [the fourth] saved us, he went nine pitches, or else we couldn’t have sent him back out for the fifth, but he did a good job of keeping his composure and getting his five innings.”

“The off-speed was bad today,” Gore said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “So we had to throw a lot of fastballs, and they didn’t miss. They didn’t have to really respect the off-speed. That’s what happens in that situation. But we made it through that.”

And the Nationals, as a team, made it through a late surge by the home team, with the Blue Jays scoring a run each off Mason Thompson (1 23 IP), Hunter Harvey (1 13 IP), and then Kyle Finnegan (1 IP), bending without breaking as the visitors evened things up and set up a big rubber match in Rogers Centre today.

As for the offense (and defense), Carter Kieboom hit a 2-run shot (410 ft. to left) in the top of the second inning, 2-0, and Lane Thomas walked, Joey Meneses singled, and Keibert Ruiz drove both in with a three-run line drive to left in the fifth, 5-1.

It was 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth, with a runner on third, two outs, and Harvey trying to get out of trouble when Blue Jays’ left fielder Daulton Varsho, with a runner (Alejandro Kirk) on third, hit a fly to center field, but rookie center fielder Jacob Young called off left fielder Alex Call to make the catch and a strong thrown home which nailed Kirk at the plate for the third out of the frame.

Back-to-back singles and a walk with Finnegan on the mound in the ninth tested the young Nats’ squad, loading them up, but Finnegan got a strikeout, and an RBI groundout on which Ildemaro Vargas made a charging play and a throw to first Dominic Smith corralled as he fell into foul territory, and a pop-up over first base ended the game with the Nationals still up by one, leaving a crowd of 39,722 a bit disappointed.

“It was awesome for them to feel that adrenaline,” Martinez said of the learning experience for his club in an electric atmosphere. “That was a playoff game. That’s what it felt like. Fans were into it. You had a good team on the other side there. The boys stepped up and played well.

“You can’t ask for more than what they did today. Our bullpen came in — it wasn’t pretty, but they held the lead and did a good job.”

Martinez loved what Jacob Young (who laid a perfect bunt down for his first MLB hit) did on the catch and throw to home for the double play in the eighth.

“It was awesome. He did the right thing too. In that situation you’ve just got to air it out and hope that you throw it on target. He threw it right on target, it was beautiful,” Martinez said.

Talking Finnegan’s struggles in the ninth, Martinez said he was concerned for a minute there when things got off to a rough start.

“He threw two pitches, two base hits,” the manager said.

“He’s just trying to pump strikes right there. We got [a] two run [lead]. The walk — the walk was the one we all sat back and said, ‘Uh-oh, wow.’ But we still had two runs to play with at that point.

“He gave up one, settled down a little bit, got a big out, Vargas with an unbelievable play.”

And the closer’s ability to maintain his calm demeanor even in high-leverage and intensity situations like last night’s?

“Ice,” Martinez said. “He’s ice. He really is. He goes out there and nothing seems to frustrate him, he’s going to try to attack you and try to get you out.”