Jul 25, 2011, 1:00 PM EDT
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Victory has often been just out of the Nationals' reach since the All-Star break.
It's been more than two weeks since the Nationals were last seen in the District, two weeks that saw one of baseball's hottest clubs hit the All-Star break with a .500 record, then stumble out of the restart gate with a disappointing 3-6 road trip.
The team that returned home on a red-eye from Los Angeles Sunday night is frustrated by its play, still struggling to produce at the plate on a regular basis and showing some cracks in its previously air-tight pitching staff and defensive alignment.
With the exception of an 11-1 thumping in Atlanta to open the season's second half, the Nationals have been highly competitive. Seven of their last nine losses have come by one run; Sunday's loss to the Dodgers came by two runs. That only compounds the frustration level among a clubhouse of players and coaches that believes this team should be winning more of these close games.
They'll have a chance to get themselves back on track during a nine-game homestand that begins Tuesday, a homestand that could be as significant as any this club has experienced in 2011.
From a straight competitive standpoint, these nine games against the Marlins, Mets and Braves are important. All are division opponents, theRead more »
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