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Nats to dedicate Bryce Harper Field in May

Slugger 'excited and honored' to participate in club's Dream Foundation DC-area renovation initiative
MLB.com @JamalCollier

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals will dedicate Bryce Harper Field at the Takoma Community Center in Northwest Washington D.C. next month, the third legacy field created in conjunction with Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation.

An official dedication ceremony will take place in early May.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals will dedicate Bryce Harper Field at the Takoma Community Center in Northwest Washington D.C. next month, the third legacy field created in conjunction with Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation.

An official dedication ceremony will take place in early May.

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"I am excited and honored to participate in the dedication of Bryce Harper Field at the Takoma Community Center," Harper said in a statement. "Youth baseball was a very important part of my childhood. The game of baseball has taught me life lessons and shaped the man I am today. To give back to the D.C. community and have local kids play baseball on a field dedicated in my name is truly an honor."

The Nationals' Dream Foundation plans to renovate one youth baseball and/or softball field in the D.C. region each year and has done so the past two seasons. Ryan Zimmerman Field became the first in April 2016, with a field just a few blocks away from Nationals Park. Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez Field was dedicated in August 2017 at Mason District Park in Annandale, Va.

Zimmerman is one of the faces of the franchise and has been with the club since 2005, while Rodriguez is a Hall of Famer who made a strong impact in a brief period with Washington. While Harper has become one of the faces of the Nationals, his contract is also due to expire at the end of the season.

Despite that, Bryce Harper Field will accommodate different styles of youth baseball play and will serve the surrounding community by hosting the Senators Satchel Paige Little League games. The project includes also a baseball-dedicated play space located to the south of the field.

"I am delighted to announce Bryce's support of the Dream Foundation's third Legacy Field project," Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, chair of the Dream Foundation, said in a statement. "We know that when kids have safe, state-of-the-art facilities to play baseball and softball, they embrace the game and all of its benefits. With these fields, the Dream Foundation is helping to cultivate baseball's lessons of perseverance, teamwork and the importance of physical activity among the D.C. region's kids."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper

Taylor's homer not enough as Nats' skid hits 4

MLB.com @JamalCollier

SAN FRANCISCO -- This road trip began so promising for the Nationals, with a pair of wins over a division rival in New York, which they hoped was a signal they had turned a corner from their sluggish start to the season. Yet, the same troubles have carried over throughout this nine-game road trip, and now after Tuesday night's 4-3 loss the Giants, they have clinched a sub-.500 record on this nine-game, 10-day road trip.

Once again, the Nationals received a solid effort from their starting pitcher, but their offense couldn't take advantage of scoring opportunities. This loss extended their losing streak to four games and they will need a win Wednesday afternoon to avoid getting swept.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- This road trip began so promising for the Nationals, with a pair of wins over a division rival in New York, which they hoped was a signal they had turned a corner from their sluggish start to the season. Yet, the same troubles have carried over throughout this nine-game road trip, and now after Tuesday night's 4-3 loss the Giants, they have clinched a sub-.500 record on this nine-game, 10-day road trip.

Once again, the Nationals received a solid effort from their starting pitcher, but their offense couldn't take advantage of scoring opportunities. This loss extended their losing streak to four games and they will need a win Wednesday afternoon to avoid getting swept.

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"We're going to get out of this," Nats manager Dave Martinez said. "I'm telling you. We're going to get out of this. I just want these guys to understand that, one, we aren't going to put our heads down. Two, we're going to keep battling and things are going to go our way."

Martinez, who is in his first year as manager in Washington, has stayed positive throughout this difficult stretch as the Nationals dropped to a season-low four games below .500 at 10-14. Prior to Tuesday's game, he remarked how a win could give his club a chance at a winning road trip.

Michael A. Taylor provided a jolt of offense when he swatted a game-tying opposite-field three-run home run to right field in the fourth inning to complete a two-out rally against left-hander Ty Blach. For a moment, it ignited the Nationals' dugout on a chilly night at AT&T Park and could have served as a turning point.

Instead, the lead evaporated by the sixth inning when right-hander Tanner Roark surrendered a solo home run to Mac Williamson to break a 3-3 tie. Roark gave up four runs in six innings, but he was ultimately hurt by a pair of home runs -- a two-run homer from Brandon Belt in the third and Williamson's dinger in the sixth.

"The two that I gave up, the home runs, they were just up," Roark said. "And kind of didn't have that extra bite on it."

Video: WSH@SF: Roark strikes out Longoria and strands two

Aside from Taylor's home run, it was another quiet night for the Nats' bats. Their rallies sputtered away each time they attempted to come back and eventually closer Hunter Strickland sealed the Giants' win with a scoreless ninth.

"It seems like a few times every game we hit the ball hard right at someone," first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "Obviously that's not everything. We need to get healthy, too. We're playing pretty beat-up right now. Missing some guys, and we've been missing them for some time.

"The last week or so obviously hasn't gone the way we wanted to, but we've got to just keep going. Get our guys healthy. Pitchers have been throwing the ball great. We just haven't been scoring runs for them."

Zimmerman's double play ends Nats' rally
One of the best scoring chances Washington had came in the eighth inning, jump-started by Howie Kendrick's one-out double to center field. Then, the rally ended almost as soon as it began.

The Giants intentionally walked Bryce Harper to set up runners at first and second and Zimmerman jumped on the first pitch right-hander Sam Dyson threw, lacing a grounder with a 104-mph exit velocity, but it was right at shortstop Brandon Crawford, who turned an inning-ending double play.

"Pitch right down the middle," Zimmerman said. "Hit it hard, just hit it on the ground and obviously credit the shortstop. I got a pitch I could do damage with, and I just didn't do it."

UP NEXT
Nationals ace Max Scherzer takes the mound for the final game of this nine-game road trip against the Giants in Wednesday's series finale at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scherzer is coming off a spectacular start with 47 strikeouts and a 1.36 ERA through his first five starts. Jeff Samardzija will be the opposing pitcher for San Francisco.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals

Nats call up prospects Bautista, Sanchez

Kelley headed for DL stint; Reynolds optioned to Triple-A
MLB.com @JamalCollier

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals made a number of roster moves in order to reset their bench to full strength prior to Tuesday night's game against the Giants.

Infielder Adrian Sanchez and outfielder Rafael Bautista were promoted from Triple-A Syracuse, while the team placed right-hander Shawn Kelley, who exited Monday night's game with an ulnar nerve irritation, on the 10-day disabled list and optioned Matt Reynolds to Triple-A as the corresponding moves.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals made a number of roster moves in order to reset their bench to full strength prior to Tuesday night's game against the Giants.

Infielder Adrian Sanchez and outfielder Rafael Bautista were promoted from Triple-A Syracuse, while the team placed right-hander Shawn Kelley, who exited Monday night's game with an ulnar nerve irritation, on the 10-day disabled list and optioned Matt Reynolds to Triple-A as the corresponding moves.

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Kelley lasted just four pitches Monday night before he had to leave the game with a similar issue he felt in 2016, when he said a sensation went through his arm and he had trouble feeling his fingers. The club will allow Kelley to rest for the next few days before he is further evaluated when they return to Washington. Considering Kelley's history of arm troubles, including two Tommy John surgeries, the decision was easy to place him on the DL.

"We want to make sure we don't do any more damage," manager Dave Martinez said. "And just give him a little breather."

Washington had been playing a man short on the bench, so the move will return the Nats to five bench players as well as give them some flexibility with their position players to fill in for injuries.

Bautista, the Nationals' No. 20-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, gives the Nats another outfielder to fill in while Adam Eaton remains on the DL with a left ankle contusion. Bautista had also started the season playing well at Syracuse, where he was hitting .429 with three stolen bases and seven runs scored in 10 games.

"I've been working on the strike zone and my swing a lot," Bautista said. "And it's getting better and better every game, every at-bat."

And Sanchez gives them more flexibility in the infield while both second baseman Daniel Murphy (right knee) and third baseman Anthony Rendon (left big toe) are also sidelined. Sanchez had two separate stints with Washington in 2017 and said he feels most comfortable playing third base, where he is starting Tuesday.

Video: HOU@WSH: Sanchez drives home two runs with a single

Sanchez replaces Reynolds as the Nats' utility infielder on the roster. Reynolds had struggled in 13 plate appearances with Washington, collecting just one hit and a walk while striking out four times.

Martinez meets with Gonzalez
Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez voiced his displeasure with the perceived quick hook from Monday night's 4-2 loss to the Giants when he was pulled from the game in the sixth inning after issuing a leadoff walk with 94 pitches.

Gonzalez said after the game that he "100 percent" thought he should have remained in the game. The two spoke on Tuesday and now say the issue is behind them.

"We talked today and we had a good conversation," Martinez said. "I told him hey, you gave us a great chance to win but our bullpen was pretty fresh so I thought it was a good opportunity before anything got out of hand to get somebody in there."

Video: WSH@SF: Gonzalez strikes out Crawford to escape a jam

UMPS Care charity auction
Nationals fans have the chance to bid on some unique opportunities or memorabilia from their favorite team while also helping a good cause for the 10th annual Umps Care charity auction.

Fans can bid for a Bryce Harper jersey, four tickets to a game complete with a batting-practice experience or even a Harper "Gobblehead" figurine from Class A Potomac.

Major League Baseball umpires will offer up more than 300 items that include priceless autographed sports memorabilia, one-of-a-kind VIP experiences, and upgraded ticket packages during its 10th Annual UMPS CARE Charities Online Auction. The auction is currently underway at www.mlb.com/UmpsCare and closes at 10 p.m. ET on Monday. Some of the items up for bid include signed bats, cleats, jerseys, photos and baseballs from some of the biggest stars in baseball. There are also opportunities to watch batting practice up close on the field at many MLB ballparks, hotel stays with game tickets, opportunities to have lunch with an MLB umpire, suites and tickets from Minor League Baseball clubs, golf foursomes and more.

All proceeds from the Online Auction support UMPS CARE Charities youth programs to provide MLB experiences for children awaiting adoption, Build-A-Bear Workshop experiences for hospitalized children coping with serious illnesses, college scholarships for deserving young adults who were adopted as children and financial assistance for families in need.

"Each year thanks to the support from our friends in Major League Baseball and throughout the sports world we get some fantastic items for our auction, and this year is no exception," said Gary Darling, former MLB umpire and board president for UMPS CARE Charities. "This is the biggest fundraising initiative that we have to help so many children in need, and we can't thank everyone enough for all of the support. Please tell all of your friends, bid early and bid often to help this great cause."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Rafael Bautista, Shawn Kelley, Matt Reynolds, Adrian Sanchez

Kelley placed on DL with ulnar nerve injury

Nats reliever has twice undergone Tommy John surgery
MLB.com @JamalCollier

SAN FRANCISCO -- Nationals right-hander Shawn Kelley was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday with an ulnar nerve injury.

Kelley admitted he was a bit puzzled by this one. During injuries in the past, he could point to overuse or some issue in his mechanics, or perhaps he had been pushing through an issue all along. But this year, he felt good.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Nationals right-hander Shawn Kelley was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday with an ulnar nerve injury.

Kelley admitted he was a bit puzzled by this one. During injuries in the past, he could point to overuse or some issue in his mechanics, or perhaps he had been pushing through an issue all along. But this year, he felt good.

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In fact, just hours prior to Washington's 4-2 loss to the Giants on Monday night, he was raving about the strength of his arm around the batting cage. That's why Kelley was perplexed after he was forced to leave the mound with irritation in the ulnar nerve in his elbow. It's a similar issue to what he felt in 2016, when a sensation went through his arm and he had trouble feeling his fingers.

Kelley felt it on the first pitch he threw in the sixth inning, which Mac Williamson launched for a two-run home run. Manager Dave Martinez sensed something was not right from that pitch, but Kelley threw three more, the last of which he spiked into the dirt at home plate before Martinez emerged from the dugout with a trainer.

"I felt really good all season," he said. "I know it's early, but for me, for April, especially in the cool weather, my velocity's been up, my strength's been good. The stuff I've been doing in the weight room and training room with the guys has been really good.

"It's probably been the best I've felt in years. So that's kind of -- this one is kind of puzzling. Like I said, I can sometimes point to something or think back to something, but it was a kind of a head-scratcher this time."

Kelley had not pitched since April 16, although prior to the game, Martinez said it was not because of an injury, but rather he had not found a spot for Kelley to pitch in a game. Even when he has been on the mound the past two seasons, Kelley has struggled to prevent home runs, so the club has been reluctant to use him in tight games.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Shawn Kelley

Eaton testing ankle but return to Nats unclear

MLB.com @JamalCollier

SAN FRANCISCO -- Each day during the West Coast portion of this road trip, Nationals left fielder Adam Eaton has gone out to the outfield, often accompanied by a team trainer, for baseball activities and to further test the bone bruise on his left ankle. Initially, when the team placed him on the disabled list, he was hopeful he could return shortly after the 10 days were complete.

Eaton was eligible to return as early as this past Friday, but he has yet to return to the lineup. And Washington has not revealed much detail about how close he is to returning.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Each day during the West Coast portion of this road trip, Nationals left fielder Adam Eaton has gone out to the outfield, often accompanied by a team trainer, for baseball activities and to further test the bone bruise on his left ankle. Initially, when the team placed him on the disabled list, he was hopeful he could return shortly after the 10 days were complete.

Eaton was eligible to return as early as this past Friday, but he has yet to return to the lineup. And Washington has not revealed much detail about how close he is to returning.

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"When you see him in the lineup, he'll be ready," manager Dave Martinez said Monday. "He's coming along. When we get him back, he's a force to reckon with and he helps our lineup out."

Through the first eight games of the year, Eaton was a catalyst at the top of the Nationals' lineup, batting .345/.424/.655 while scoring 10 runs. But at times he appeared to be hampered while running and then on April 5 he tweaked his left ankle trying to score on a play at the plate.

The Nats saw this stint on the DL as a way to ease back on Eaton's workload a bit and ensure he is completely healthy. Martinez said Monday that Eaton is still feeling some discomfort in his ankle, so it's up to the training staff to determine when Eaton is ready to go. Martinez had said he was "hopeful" Eaton would be able to return at some point during this three-game series in San Francisco.

While Eaton has played catch and taken batting practice, it's whether he will require a Minor League rehab stint before returning to the Nats.

"When we get him back this time, we don't want any issues," Martinez said. "We want him to go out there and play and not worry about anything."

Worth noting
Brian Goodwin is working out at the team's complex in West Palm Beach, Fla., as he nurses his left wrist contusion. Goodwin, who has been on the DL since April 17, attempted to swing a bat recently, but the discomfort in his wrist has not yet subsided.

"He's another guy that people don't talk about but he was big for us," Martinez said. "He was a big part of this team."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Adam Eaton

Nationals trade Cole to Yankees for cash

MLB.com @JamalCollier

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals traded right-hander A.J. Cole to the Yankees on Monday night in exchange for cash considerations.

Cole, 26, broke camp in Washington's rotation before he was replaced after a few rough outings. He was designated for assignment on Friday.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals traded right-hander A.J. Cole to the Yankees on Monday night in exchange for cash considerations.

Cole, 26, broke camp in Washington's rotation before he was replaced after a few rough outings. He was designated for assignment on Friday.

Cole spent most of his career as a spot starter for the Nationals, but he never pitched consistently enough to stick in the Majors. In four seasons, Cole posted 5.32 ERA in 110 innings. He made four appearances, including two starts, this season and posted a 13.06 ERA.

Cole was once a highly touted prospect after the Nationals selected him in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft. The club already traded him once in 2011 as part of the deal that landed Gio Gonzalez in Washington. Cole was reunited with the Nats in '13 as part of a three-team trade.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, A.J. Cole

Nats miss chances vs. Giants, drop 3rd straight

MLB.com @JamalCollier

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals had a rally nearly gifted to them in the sixth inning Monday night after two normally sure-handed veterans made a pair of errors at AT&T Park. First, Evan Longoria dropped a foul popup to extend an at-bat for Bryce Harper, who eventually walked. Then, Andrew McCutchen missed a fly ball in right field to put Ryan Zimmerman at second and advance Harper to third.

Washington's struggling offense has rarely taken advantage of such mistakes recently. With one out, the rally fizzled away as Matt Adams struck out and Matt Wieters flied out weakly to center field. Such is the case for the Nationals' offense these days, missing three of their best hitters with Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy on the disabled list. Without them, too often the Nats have been unable to make opponents pay for extra baserunners, with a 4-2 loss to the Giants serving as the latest example.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals had a rally nearly gifted to them in the sixth inning Monday night after two normally sure-handed veterans made a pair of errors at AT&T Park. First, Evan Longoria dropped a foul popup to extend an at-bat for Bryce Harper, who eventually walked. Then, Andrew McCutchen missed a fly ball in right field to put Ryan Zimmerman at second and advance Harper to third.

Washington's struggling offense has rarely taken advantage of such mistakes recently. With one out, the rally fizzled away as Matt Adams struck out and Matt Wieters flied out weakly to center field. Such is the case for the Nationals' offense these days, missing three of their best hitters with Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy on the disabled list. Without them, too often the Nats have been unable to make opponents pay for extra baserunners, with a 4-2 loss to the Giants serving as the latest example.

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"That was the big turning point of the game," Nats manager Dave Martinez said. "If that happens, we do something different in the bullpen. Unfortunately, we didn't knock those runs in."

If the Nats had taken a lead in that inning, perhaps Martinez could have turned to their three late-inning relievers to preserve the lead. Instead, Washington dropped its third consecutive game on this nine-game road trip and has now lost four of its past five games.

"Just keep your head up and keep going, that's the only way you can do it," left-hander Gio Gonzalez said. "Can't dwell in the past, can't dwell on little things. You just got to keep going."

Video: WSH@SF: Gonzalez strikes out Crawford to escape a jam

Gonzalez was particularly frustrated on Monday night. The Giants ran up his pitch count, but he worked his way out of trouble through five innings and he returned to the mound to open the sixth. But Gonzalez issued a leadoff walk to Brandon Belt that put him at 94 pitches and his night was complete.

After the game, Gonzalez was asked whether he thought he should have been allowed to continue, and he responded, "100 percent."

What came next would be a blow for the Nationals. Right-hander Shawn Kelley entered the game and surrendered a two-run home run to Mac Williamson on his first pitch. But Kelley said he felt something was off during each of the four pitches he threw that inning, the last of which spiked into the dirt in front of home plate, and he was then removed from the game with an irritated ulnar nerve in his elbow. He will be evaluated further Tuesday, when he will almost certainly be placed on the disabled list.

"It's probably been the best I've felt in years," Kelley said. "So that's kind of -- this one is kind of puzzling. I can sometimes point to something or think back to something, but it was a kind of a head-scratcher this time."

And the Nationals' offense has been scratching its head through much of this stretch. Opposing teams have continued to walk Harper without much fear of putting him on. After a pair of walks Monday night, he now has walked 12 times in the past eight games. Giants right-hander Chris Stratton limited the Nats to just two runs in 6 2/3 innings. He walked three and gave up four hits, but even when he did get into trouble, he was able to work his way out of it.

"I think we know what this group's capable of," Adams said. "It's not like we're going up there and every guy's striking out. We're putting the barrel on the ball and right now it's going right at guys. We're getting some opportunities and we're not cashing in, but I mean that's baseball."

Video: WSH@SF: Kendrick opens the scoring with a sac fly

SOUND SMART
Trea Turner and Michael A. Taylor both stole a base on Monday night, keeping pace with one another in their sprint to the top of the stolen-base leaderboard. Both players are now a perfect 9-for-9 on stolen-base attempts this season and their nine stolen bases are tied for the Major League lead. Tim Anderson of the White Sox also has nine.

UP NEXT
Turner and Taylor have started to heat up a bit and the Nationals are hopeful that production can continue Tuesday night when right-hander Tanner Roark takes the mound against the Giants. Roark is 6-0 with a 2.02 ERA in his career vs. San Francisco, with first pitch scheduled for 10:15 p.m. ET.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals

Bullpen hiccup costs Nats in finale with Dodgers

MLB.com @JamalCollier

LOS ANGELES -- Last summer, the Nationals acquired Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle in trades to cure an ailing bullpen. Even though they have kept that trio together, they find themselves once again short on consistent relief options.

Madson was unavailable on Sunday night at Dodger Stadium, the product of working three consecutive games and four out of five earlier in the week. Without him, the Nationals' struggle to bridge the gap from starting pitcher to the end of the game resurfaced, and it cost them as the Dodgers captured a come-from-behind 4-3 victory.

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LOS ANGELES -- Last summer, the Nationals acquired Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle in trades to cure an ailing bullpen. Even though they have kept that trio together, they find themselves once again short on consistent relief options.

Madson was unavailable on Sunday night at Dodger Stadium, the product of working three consecutive games and four out of five earlier in the week. Without him, the Nationals' struggle to bridge the gap from starting pitcher to the end of the game resurfaced, and it cost them as the Dodgers captured a come-from-behind 4-3 victory.

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Washington dropped two of three to Los Angeles this weekend despite earning a victory in the series opener against Clayton Kershaw and leading through the first half of Sunday's game. After a strong start to the road trip in New York, the Nats might lament their missed opportunity at something more.

"When they go out there and give us a chance to win, we want to close those games out," Nationals center fielder Michael A. Taylor said of the club's starting pitchers. "There's not much we can do about it now, but we'll continue to keep grinding."

Taylor goes 3-for-3 with homer, swipes 2 bags

Video: WSH@LAD: Taylor slugs a solo homer in the 4th

Backed by a 3-for-3 night from Taylor, the Nationals received an encouraging outing from right-hander Jeremy Hellickson in his second turn as the fifth starter. He navigated twice through the Dodgers' lineup with ease, retiring 14 in a row from the end of the first inning until the sixth. He possessed command of his fastball, changeup and curve and threw them in whatever count he pleased to keep the Dodgers off balance.

Hellickson struggled the third time through the order, however, as the Dodgers honed in on his fastball. In the sixth, leadoff man Chris Taylor started the Dodgers' rally with a one-out double, Corey Seager drew a walk and Yasmani Grandal cut the Nats' lead to one with a two-run double that chased Hellickson. The next batter, Cody Bellinger, tied the game with a double off Sammy Solis.

Video: WSH@LAD: Bellinger hits game-tying double

Hellickson's outing was encouraging -- 5 1/3 innings with three runs and five strikeouts -- but it ended up being wasted.

"He pitched great," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "And even when it seemed like it fell apart, there were no hard-hit balls."

Martinez then attempted to piece together the game behind Hellickson.

After Solis walked Kiké Hernandez, Martinez turned to Trevor Gott, who reached back to strike out the next two batters with fastballs at 97 mph and 96 mph to escape the jam.

Video: WSH@LAD: Gott strikes out Utley to escape jam

Martinez stayed with Gott in the seventh inning, and he relinquished the lead. Gott hit Austin Barnes with an errant pitch, then Barnes reached third base on a single from Taylor and scored the winning run on a sac fly from Seager.

"You just try to play matchups," Martinez said.

Without the ability to turn to his backend trio of relievers, Martinez has been forced to mix and match to navigate the number of close games the Nationals have had recently. He said he pushed Madson too hard earlier in the week, leaving him unavailable even though he has not pitched since Wednesday.

And the Nationals fell to two games below .500 even though this series carried such promise.

"I think you always want to win games, especially when you lead in them," shortstop Trea Turner said. "We haven't been able to do that yet, so hopefully we can get the ball rolling in San Fran. I think we played better baseball this roadtrip than we were at home, so I think we're going in the right direction."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Ninth-inning rally falls short: The Nationals had a chance to rally against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen after starting the ninth with back-to-back singles from Matt Adams and Wilmer Difo. That brought light-hitting Andrew Stevenson to the plate with nobody out and runners on first and second. But considering Stevenson's ability to hit fastballs, the Nats allowed him to take a free swing at the first pitch, before putting the bunt sign on.

Jansen would eventually strike out Stevenson and Turner before getting a flyout from Howie Kendrick to seal the victory.

"He's funky, because you don't see guys with that kind of stuff for the most part," Turner said. "That's why he's the closer. But I think that last pitch is kind of tough, because when he throws it at you, it looks like it's going to be a ball and then it kind of comes back to the plate."

Video: WSH@LAD: Jansen gets out Kendrick to earn the save

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
While Taylor did not say he always has the green light on the bases this season, he has certainly run like it so far. He got himself into scoring position in the eighth inning after drawing a two-out walk and promptly swiping second base. The throw from Grandal beat him, but Taylor slid around the tag on a close play. The Dodgers challenged the safe call, but it was confirmed by replay. Taylor is now 8-for-8 on stolen-base attempts this season.

"I felt pretty confident going in [to the replay]. I knew he tagged me on the leg kind of late, but I felt like I was able to hold the bag," Taylor said. "When it goes through a review, you kind of hold your breath, because you never know what's going to happen, but I felt good about it."

Video: WSH@LAD: Taylor steals second, call confirmed

UP NEXT
The Nationals return to San Francisco on Monday for the first time since last year's benches-clearing fracas after Bryce Harper was hit with a pitch from right-hander Hunter Strickland. Any bad blood between the two sides has likely dissipated, but a potential late-innings showdown between Harper and Strickland could be something to watch for. For the 10:15 p.m. ET series opener, left-hander Gio Gonzalez will take the mound against right-hander Chris Stratton in a matchup of two pitchers in the top 12 in ERA in the National League.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Trevor Gott, Jeremy Hellickson, Sammy Solis

Taylor goes 3-for-3 with homer, swipes 2 bags

MLB.com @JamalCollier

LOS ANGELES -- The Nationals are starting to see some progress at the plate from center fielder Michael A. Taylor after his slow start to the season.

Taylor went 3-for-3 with a walk during Sunday night's 4-3 loss against the Dodgers. He hit a solo home run, stole a pair of bases and almost single-handedly created a run after doubling in the sixth, finishing a triple shy of the cycle.

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LOS ANGELES -- The Nationals are starting to see some progress at the plate from center fielder Michael A. Taylor after his slow start to the season.

Taylor went 3-for-3 with a walk during Sunday night's 4-3 loss against the Dodgers. He hit a solo home run, stole a pair of bases and almost single-handedly created a run after doubling in the sixth, finishing a triple shy of the cycle.

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It was by far Taylor's best game in what had been a difficult start to the season. He entered Sunday batting .192/.244/.247 in 21 games. But he has heated up in his last eight games, going 9-for-26 with a 1.049 OPS. It's a welcome sight for a Washington club that lost another big bat when third baseman Anthony Rendon landed on the disabled list Sunday.

"I felt good at the plate today," Taylor said. "Felt like I was a little more relaxed. Felt pretty good in my approach for most of the season, just at times I was jumpy. I feel like I've been able to slow things down a little better as of late."

Taylor's night began with a single and a stolen basein the second inning. Then he began the fourth with a home run off left-hander Alex Wood, his first long ball of the season.

In the sixth, Taylor hammered a one-out double into the left-field corner. The threat of his speed forced a pickoff throw, which sailed into center field and allowed him to reach third. That set the stage for Taylor to score on a sacrifice fly to shallow center field from Moises Sierra, giving the Nationals a 3-0 lead.

Video: WSH@LAD: Sierra drives in Taylor with a sac fly

Washington would eventually relinquish the lead, but Taylor put himself in scoring position again in the eighth inning after drawing a two-out walk and swiping second base. A replay review confirmed the call, making Taylor 8-for-8 on stolen-base attempts.

"Just trusting, going out there and playing the game and not worrying about results," Taylor said. "Working my breathing a little bit, just anything I can do to just relax."

Video: WSH@LAD: Taylor steals second, call confirmed

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Michael A. Taylor

Soto makes Pipeline Team of the Week

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances in the Minor Leagues from the previous week. Any player on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible.

It's just our second edition of Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week and we already have a pair of repeat performers.

MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances in the Minor Leagues from the previous week. Any player on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible.

It's just our second edition of Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week and we already have a pair of repeat performers.

2018 Prospect Teams of the Week

Nationals outfielder Juan Soto and Orioles lefty Zac Lowther have earned back-to-back honors, with both showing that the South Atlantic League is not so challenging for them thus far. Soto is joined by two other members of our Top 100 and Lowther is accompanied by a fellow member of the 2017 Draft class.  

Here is the latest addition of Prospect Team of the Week, for the week of April 16-22.

C: Austin Allen, San Antonio Missions (Double-A)
(Padres' No. 28 prospect)
6 G, .500/.577/.909, 7 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K

Allen was a two-time PTOW honoree last year in a season that saw him hit 22 homers and slug .497. Those wanting to see if that was a California League mirage should be pleased with his start, as his 11-for-22 week (with five extra-base hits) now has him hitting .373 with a .780 slugging percentage and six homers in the Texas League. He tops the circuit in slugging and OPS (1.202).

Watch: Allen crushes a double

1B: Sam Travis, Pawtucket Red Sox (Triple-A)
(Red Sox's No. 5 prospect)
6 G, .417/.500/.625, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K

Travis had four straight multi-hit games Monday through Thursday, starting with a two-hit performance that included his first home run of the International League season. Even with an 0-for-5 to end the week, he was still able to raise his season slash line to .346/.414/.462.

Watch: Travis ties score with two-run single

2B: David Fletcher, Salt Lake Bees (Triple-A)
(Angels' No. 24 prospect)
6 G, .467/.484/.767, 9 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB

Fletcher nearly made the big league team out of Spring Training and is now hitting like he wants to force his way there. He has a seven-game hitting streak going and has raised his average from .172 on April 11 to .366. Four three-hit games this past week certainly helped and he picked up his first homer of the year while not striking out all week.

Watch: Fletcher doubles as part of four-hit game

3B: Austin Riley, Mississippi Braves (Double-A)
(Braves' No. 8 prospect/MLB No. 97)
6 G, .522/.560/1.043, 5 R, 5 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K

Riley has historically been a slow starter, but he's trying to reverse that trend in the Southern League in the early going. He led all prospects who can qualify for PTOW with 24 total bases last week and is now tied for second in the league with 14 RBIs and is fourth in OPS (1.190). His .386 average puts him eighth in the circuit.

Watch: Riley crushes third homer of 2018

SS: Brendan Rodgers, Hartford Yard Goats (Double-A)
(Rockies' No. 1 prospect/MLB No. 14)
6 G, .520/.538/.800, 3 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB, 4 K

When the week began, Rodgers was hitting just .143. Now he's up to .300 after a week that saw him hit in all six games he played in. He kicked things off with a three-hit performance and finished by going 5-for-5 on Sunday, including crushing his third home run of the season. Thanks to the week, Rodgers is now eighth in the Eastern League with his .533 slugging percentage.

Watch: Rodgers homers as part of five-hit day

OF: Calvin Mitchell, West Virginia Power (Class A)
(Pirates' No. 16 prospect)
7 G, .467/.500/.733, 5 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB, 6 K

Heading to full-season ball as a high school draftee can be tough, but Mitchell, the Pirates' second-round pick last June, seems to be adjusting just fine. He now has an eight-game hitting streak going and had four multi-hit games this past week. He homered and drove in three runs on Wednesday before going 4-for-4 with four RBIs on Saturday. He's currently fourth in the South Atlantic League in batting average (.364) and OPS (1.070) and fifth in slugging (.652).

OF: Myles Straw, Corpus Christi Hooks (Double-A)
(Astros' No. 21 prospect)
6 G, .520/.581/.680, 5 R, 2 3B, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 3 SB, 4 K

Straw has a six-game hitting streak going, starting last week with a four-hit game and adding a 5-for-5 showing on Saturday. That's pushed his average up over .400 (he's second in the Texas League at .407). He also swiped three bases, giving him a league-leading 11 steals on the season (tied for third in the Minors).

Watch: Straw's four-hit night

OF: Juan Soto, Hagerstown Suns (Class A)
(Nationals' No. 2 prospect/MLB No. 29)
6 G, .391/.481/.739, 5 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K

Soto showed an innate knack for hitting last year, but also missed most of the season with injuries. He's showing it was no fluke with how he's begun his 2018 campaign back in the South Atlantic League, with four two-hit games this last week. His advanced approach is clearly working, as he leads the SAL with his .486 on-base percentage. Soto's raw power is showing up in games: He tops the circuit in OPS (1.300) and slugging (.814) while his five homers put him in a tie for third. His strong start to the year earned him a promotion to Class A Advanced Potomac of the Carolina League.

Watch: Soto crushes three-run homer

LHP: Zac Lowther, Delmarva Shorebirds (Class A)
(Orioles' No. 17 prospect)
1-1, 0.90 ERA, 2 GS, 10 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 18 K, 0.60 WHIP

Lowther is back again, even if he did give up some hits and a run. After beginning his year with six no-hit innings, the southpaw followed it up with two five-inning starts. Combined, he now has a ridiculous 31/2 K/BB ratio over his first 16 innings of work in the South Atlantic League to go along with a .094 batting average against and 0.44 WHIP.

RHP: Tony Santillan, Daytona Tortugas (Class A Advanced)
(Reds' No. 5 prospect)
2-0, 0.71 ERA, 2 GS, 12 2/3 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 0.79 WHIP

Santillan has always had dynamic stuff and he's coming off of a strong full season in the Midwest League. The one thing that has been a bit of a question mark has been his command, but if the start to his Florida State League season is any indication, he's headed in the right direction. After a week that saw him win both decisions, he's now gone at least six innings in three of his four starts this year with a 2.0 BB/9 rate.

RP: Seranthony Dominguez, Reading Fightin Phils (Double-A)
(Phillies' No. 12 prospect)
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 0.00 WHIP

Dominguez moved to the bullpen for the first time this season and the new role seems to suit him. His past as a starter still lets him go multiple innings, as he had a three-inning, no-hit, six-strikeout game on Wednesday and now has 17 K's (vs. just two walks) in 11 total innings.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Rendon's toe injury finally sends him to DL

Nats' third baseman hits shelf after missing seven games
MLB.com @JamalCollier

LOS ANGELES -- Anthony Rendon lifted up his leg to reveal the black bruise underneath his left big toe, a result of the ball he fouled off his foot more than a week ago. He had been doing his best to avoid the disabled list, taking batting practice, jogging or trying to field grounders each day. At best, he could have been considered a pinch-hitting option off the bench late in games.

Every time he felt enough improvement to add more pressure to his toe, however, he would come up sore the following day. Finally, prior to Sunday night's game against the Dodgers, the Nationals decided to place Rendon on the DL. Right-hander Austin L. Adams was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse in his place.

View Full Game Coverage

LOS ANGELES -- Anthony Rendon lifted up his leg to reveal the black bruise underneath his left big toe, a result of the ball he fouled off his foot more than a week ago. He had been doing his best to avoid the disabled list, taking batting practice, jogging or trying to field grounders each day. At best, he could have been considered a pinch-hitting option off the bench late in games.

Every time he felt enough improvement to add more pressure to his toe, however, he would come up sore the following day. Finally, prior to Sunday night's game against the Dodgers, the Nationals decided to place Rendon on the DL. Right-hander Austin L. Adams was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse in his place.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's just a slower process than we anticipated," Rendon said. "I think the hardest part is you have days where it feels good and you push it, and then come in the next day and it's sore. It's like you take one step forward and two steps back."

Rendon will miss his eighth consecutive game on Sunday in what will be his ninth day since the foul ball against the Rockies that forced him to exit the game after seven inning on April 13. The Nationals were able to backdate his stint on the DL to April 19, but Washington played with a short roster for more than a week with hopes Rendon could return soon.

And now Rendon can not return to the lineup until next Sunday.

"It wasn't for lack of effort," manager Dave Martinez said. "He was really trying to play. ... When you lose a guy like Rendon, who's a big part of your lineup and he's telling you he'll be available, you got to give him that opportunity. And it got to the point now where he finally realized, 'I can hit, but I can't do the things I need to be doing to help us win.'"

The injury is another blow to the Nationals, as Rendon joins second baseman Daniel Murphy (knee) and left fielder Adam Eaton (ankle) on the shelf. Murphy is at extended spring training, and his return is still a few weeks away. Eaton was eligible to return from the DL on Thursday and Martinez said they are hopeful he could return at some point this week in San Francisco. 

Rendon had been off to a good start batting in front of Bryce Harper in the No. 2 spot in the lineup, posting a slash line of .286/.355/.411 in 14 games. Rendon has been able to hit without pain, but he struggles with the toe while taking ground balls at third base or trying to pivot and throw. With him still feeling pain fielding grounders, he has not attempted to sprint.

"I don't want to come back and be here and be only a pinch-hit threat," Rendon said. "I want to play defense. I want to make sure I'm helping the team."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Anthony Rendon

Johnson among top prospect performers

Rockies' No. 1 racks up five hits, goes deep
MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Sunday.

It was a perfect end to the week for Brendan Rodgers, as the Rockies' No. 1 prospect hit a two-run homer and a double while going 5-for-5 in Double-A Hartford's 11-9 win over Harrisburg.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Sunday.

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