Nats win Thursday, could clinch home field tonight 


By Will Beverina 

In their penultimate series of the regular season, the Washington Nationals gained an edge in the race for home-field advantage in the National League Division Series with a 5-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.

The series finale for the two teams was highlighted by Nationals second baseman Wilmer Difo’s first career home run in the bottom of the fifth, a line drive over left field that gave Washington a 5-1 lead.

Just an inning before that, Michael A. Taylor singled on a ground ball to center field, a 2-RBI effort that brought home Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman.

Pedro Severino also made contributions when he launched his second home run of the season in the third inning to tie the game at 1-1.

Nationals starter Joe Ross, still having his limits tested after coming off of a long DL stint recently, went 90 pitches over four innings and allowed just one run on three hits. Reynaldo Lopez put in 3 2/3 innings of relief and earned the win for Washington, while closer Mark Melancon earned his 45th save of the year after shutting down the final two batters of the night.

The Nationals close out their season in a final tune-up before the playoffs when they face the Miami Marlins for a three-game series at Nationals Park. The first game is set for Friday with an estimated first pitch time of 7:05 p.m.

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