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WASHINGTON — The Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals fumbled opportunities to gain ground on the Atlanta Braves this weekend.Now they’ll meet in an important three-game series beginning Tuesday night.The situation isn’t nearly as dire for the Phillies [url=http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-kendall-graveman-jersey]Kendall Graveman Jersey[/url] , who find themselves tied with Braves, but the Nationals are 7 1/2 games back and may have used up all of their mulligans.Article continues below ...Washington (62-63) dropped two of three games to the Miami Marlins, who are in last place in the National League East, and have lost six of eight. Philadelphia (68-56) hasn’t floundered quite as badly, winning five of their last 13, but dropped three of five games to the New York Mets while the Braves were losing four straight to the Rockies.“We understand that we’ve had some missed opportunities to take some steps forward here,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told MLB.com after the Phillies lost 8-2 Sunday in the Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa.“So, at this very moment, I’m not thinking about how fortunate we are. I do feel like we’re in a good spot in the standings, but I’m thinking about the fact that we need to take the day off, regroup and get ready to play the Nationals.”The Nationals have some regrouping to do themselves. After losing in extra innings Saturday night, they were manhandled by the Marlins 12-1 on Sunday, getting just two hits off starter Jose Urena, who tossed his first career complete game.Washington starter Gio Gonzalez (7-10) continues to struggle, allowing eight runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings.“I think it was in all honesty an ugly game. And everybody saw it [url=http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-jose-canseco-jersey]http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-jose-canseco-jersey[/url] ,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.Before Sunday’s game, Martinez announced that right-hander Stephen Strasburg (cervical nerve impingement) will come off the disabled list to pitch the second game of the series Wednesday night. He’ll be sandwiched between Tanner Roark and Max Scherzer.“It’s nice to be able to go into that series with our three best pitchers,” Martinez said.Added outfielder Adam Eaton to MASN.com: “A good week or two, a sweep of two teams that are ahead of us, can get us right back in the ballgame. But we’ve got to do it now.”Roark (8-12, 4.13 ERA) struggled in the first half, but the right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.77 ERA overall since the All-Star break. Last time out, Roark picked up a win when he allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings against the St. Louis Cardinals.He is 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA against the Phillies this season and 6-9 with a 4.18 ERA in 20 games (18 starts) in his career.Right-hander Vince Velasquez (8-9, 4.13) gets the opener for the Phillies. He has allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings in his last two starts.Velasuez got the win when he faced Roark and the Nationals on May 5 and took a no-decision against Washington on June 30. He’s 2-2 with a 5.28 ERA in six starts against the Nationals.Tuesday will tell who was better able to bounce back from a disappointing weekend.“There’s still quite a bit of baseball left,” the Phillies Nick Pivetta, Sunday’s losing pitcher, told MLB.com. “There’s not a ton, but there’s still a good enough amount where nights like these you can brush them off your shoulders and take the off-day tomorrow, regain your strength, go into Washington.“I know these men in here. (Tuesday) we’re going to go in there, we’re going to look for the sweep against those Nationals.” SAN DIEGO (AP) — Rookie Francisco Mejia is quickly giving the downtrodden San Diego Padres a hopeful glimpse of the future.The 22-year-old hit his first grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning and the rebuilding Padres rallied to beat the Texas Rangers 7-3 Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep in a matchup of last-place teams.It was the first walkoff for Mejia [url=http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-jed-lowrie-jersey]http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-jed-lowrie-jersey[/url] , who was promoted from Triple-A on Sept. 4. The prized catching prospect has hit three homers since then.Mejia was obtained from Cleveland for closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber on July 19. He is part of the third wave of young talent that has come up since late in the 2016 season, when the Padres turned from a failed win-now approach to rebuilding via the farm system.“It’s a really special moment,” Mejia said through a translator. “Especially for my career. It’s great.”The switch-hitter, batting right-handed, turned on the first pitch he saw from reliever Jeffrey Springs and drove it to left field.He said he was “looking for a pitch up in the zone, especially with the shadows out there. I wanted to look for a good pitch there and get a good swing on it.”Mejia was doused with a cooler of ice water at the plate and the celebration extended into the clubhouse.Asked what he’ll remember most about the homer, he said it would be “the energy, the moment coming into the clubhouse and having everyone waiting for me there.”Manager Andy Green said Mejia “seems at home with this group of guys. He showed up and everybody welcomed him and brought him into the family, and everybody has enjoyed him. When you’re new to a club you want to come through quick because it makes you feel like a part of it. Clearly he did that in a big way for us today.”Green watched the winning shot from his office after being ejected in the top of the ninth.“I do feel comfortable,” Mejia said. “I think the home runs, those are always going to come. That’s just part of the game. But I do feel comfortable being here and being a part of this team.”Ownership expected the Padres to be better this year than their finish of 71-91 last year, but the Padres are one loss away from matching last year’s win total. They’ve lost at least 90 games for the third straight season and the fourth time in eight years.The Rangers were two outs away from a 3-2 win and a three-game sweep before rookie Franmil Reyes hit a bloop single to right off rookie reliever Jeffrey Springs (0-1) and made way for pinch-runner Travis Jankowski. Freddy Galvis then doubled to left to bring in Jankowski with the tying run.Pinch-hitter A.J. Ellis walked as Galvis took third on a ball four-wild pitch. Cory Spangenberg walked to load the bases and bring up Mejia, who homered to left on the first pitch he saw.“Things unraveled a little bit just with the walks, but I’ve got to hand it to him,” Banister said about Springs. “The guy’s never been in that situation before. I put him in that situation and I thought he showed a grit throughout the course of an inning.”Green was ejected in the top of the ninth after Robinson Chirinos appeared to hit the ball off the knob of his bat into fair territory. Padres reliever Trey Wingenter fielded the ball and threw to first. After the umps huddled and then went to a video review that lasted four minutes, 50 seconds [url=http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-tony-phillips-jersey]Tony Phillips Jersey[/url] , Green was ejected for arguing and Chirinos was awarded first on a hit-by-pitch.“I was pretty adamant telling them it’s not a reviewable call, it’s on the field,” Green said. “You have to fix the call on the field. It has to be a fair ball or a hit batter. It can’t be a foul ball. I’m not quite sure how we arrived where we arrived.”The Rangers loaded the bases but failed to score.Kirby Yates (5-3) got the last two outs of the ninth for the win.The Padres had runners on first and third with no outs in the eighth and failed to score.Rangers starter Mike Minor allowed two runs and four hits, struck out seven and walked one. He also doubled. Minor’s only big mistake was allowing Hunter Renfroe’s homer with two outs in the first, his 23rd.Willie Calhoun homered with one out in the second, his second, and Jurickson Profar hit a leadoff shot in the third, his 18th. Both were off Padres rookie Jacob Nix, who also allowed Robinson Chirinos’ RBI single in the sixth.Nix allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings, struck out three and walked one.UP NEXTRangers: RHP Adrian Sampson (0-1, 5.06) is scheduled to make his second start with Texas when it opens a three-game home series against Tampa Bay on Monday night. The Rays will counter with RHP Tyler Glasnow (1-6, 4.48).Padres: RHP Bryan Mitchell (1-3, 6.07) is scheduled to go in the opener of a three-game home series against San Francisco on Monday night, his third start since returning from 1 ½ months on the disabled list. He’s 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings since being reinstated. The Giants will counter with LHP Andrew Suarez (6-11, 4.33).
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