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A gut-check win

Jun 1, 2013, 5:19 AM EDT

USA Today Sports Images
Craig Stammen retired all 12 batters he faced to earn the win.

ATLANTA — Already missing their best young player, their veteran leader, their top catcher and one member of their rotation, the Nationals took the field Friday night at Turner Field understanding how much was, and is, at stake this weekend against a Braves club that entered play with a 5 1/2-game lead on them in the NL East.

And then Stephen Strasburg departed after only two innings with a strained right oblique muscle, and suddenly a Nationals club that had been furiously trying to tread water for two months now looked on the verge of sinking below sea level.

The best ballclubs, though, have to overcome adversity somewhere along the way, and what better place for the Nationals to start than right here and right now, their season on the brink of major calamity?

So it was that Craig Stammen produced an emergency relief appearance for the ages — 12 batters faced, 12 batters retired — and a struggling lineup manufactured three early runs and a maligned bullpen hung on for dear life over the final three innings to pull out a 3-2 victory that felt like something far more significant than a run-of-the-mill win on the final day of May.

“It was an outstanding effort, and a big win,” manager Davey Johnson said. “We needed it bad.”
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Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 79 15.0
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Sunday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 67 2.5
y-ST. LOUIS 87 68 4.0
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 71 7.0 --
PITTSBURGH 84 71 7.0 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 11.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Sunday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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