Sep 17, 2012, 5:10 AM EDT
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Michael Bourn eludes Kurt Suzuki’s tag to score a key seventh-inning run.
ATLANTA — Davey Johnson ambled through an otherwise silent clubhouse late Sunday night — black sweater, khaki slacks, white sneakers — and started cracking jokes to every player he encountered.
The Nationals had just lost a sloppy game to the Braves, 5-1, had just been swept by their lone remaining challenger in the NL East and had seen their once insurmountable, 8 1/2-game lead shrink to 5 1/2 games at the end of a difficult weekend.
Their left fielder has been out since Tuesday with a left hand injury. Their second baseman is now likely to miss at least the next series with a left shoulder injury that will require an MRI. What had been baseball’s best pitching staff all season is starting to show some cracks in the foundation. And what had been the league’s most-potent lineup for the last month was silenced the last three days by Atlanta’s pitching staff.
None of that, Johnson believes, should overshadow what the Nationals have done over the last 5 1/2 months, nor give them reason to worry about the 2 1/2 weeks they still have left in a pennant race that is far from over.
“I feel fine about where we’re at,” the 69-year-old manager insisted.
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