Washington Nationals’ Tyler Clippard pitches during a baseball game.

The Washington Nationals held on to first place in the National League East division after playing just two games during Major League Baseball’s (MLB)All-Star week. The Nationals had a July 14 through July 17 rest before splitting wins with the Milwaukee Brewers in two games played on July 18-19. The Nationals currently hold a 52-43 record, giving them a slight edge over the Atlanta Braves (53-44 record) for top place in the NL East.

July 15: Tyler Clippard Holds It Down for Nats in All-Star Game

Nationals’ pitcher Tyler Clippard was the lone representative for Washington in the NL vs. AL All-Star game. Clippard saw action in the fifth inning, relieving St. Louis Cardinals’ Pat Neshek. Clippard retired the only two batters he faced. But the two he confronted  happen to be two of the best hitters in MLB, Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera and Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve. The National League team, however, went on to lose the All-Star game, 5-3.

Bryce Harper, Mark Reynolds

Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper (34) dives back safely to first on a pickoff attempt as Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Mark Reynolds (7) awaits the ball during the second inning of a baseball game, Friday, July 18, 2014, in Washington.

July 18-19: Nationals Win One, Lose One against Brewers

Returning to action for the first time in five days, the Nationals hosted a three game series with the Brewers on July 18-20. A poor start from starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg doomed Washington as they lost Game One of the series 4-2. Strasburg gave up four earned runs, including two home runs, all within the first three innings of the game. Despite the bad start, Strasburg stayed on the mound and eventually settled down to record nine strikeouts while lasting seven innings. Left fielder Bryce Harper hit his third home run of the season, but it wasn’t enough offense for the Nationals to make a comeback win.

The following night, however, the Nationals’ came firing back on offense to beat the Brewers, 8-3, on July 19 in Game Two of the series. Catcher Wilson Ramos led the way with three hits and three RBI’s; right fielder Jayson Werth had two doubles, and Harper also had a double. Starting pitcher Tanner Roark was awesome, allowing just six hits and one earned run in seven innings pitched.

Next-up: Following Game Three in their series against the Brewers on July 20, the Nationals will travel to Colorado to take on the Rockies in a three-game series on July 21-23. Washington then faces the Reds in three games in Cincinnati on July 25-27.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor