As Boston Red Sox players donned red Cullen Gillaspia Jersey , white and blue outfits to celebrate a 3-0 victory on the 4th of July that completed a sweep, the Washington Nationals held a players-only meeting to discuss a fifth consecutive loss and the precarious spot theyre now in beyond the halfway point of the season.

the preseason NL East favorites lost for the 17th time in 22 games Wednesday to fall below .500 for the first time this late in the year since being 60-61 on Aug. 21, 2015.

This time, it was a throwing error by Adam Eaton on a sacrifice fly in foul territory and a wild pitch by Ryan Madson (2-4) in a disastrous seventh inning that dropped the Nationals to 42-43 and kept them from making up ground on the division-leading Atlanta Braves.

Were a good team and were going to go out there and compete with anybody, said Bryce Harper, who went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.

We just have to keep grinding and keep doing our thing and good things will happen. Weve never been in this position before, and I think its an exciting time for us. In years past, weve won the division by a lot of games. Were able to be behind right now and Im excited to get there and test it.

Powered by struggling outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.s two RBIs on the sac fly and a ninth-inning double and a strong start by Eduardo Rodriguez (10-3), the Red Sox moved 30 games over .500 under rookie manager Alex Cora.

We know where were at, but we still have a long ways to go, Cora said. (The Nationals) have a good team. Theyll figure it out. Ive seen that before from them. They struggle a little bit and theyll pick it up. Theyll be in the hunt.

Bradley, who came into the game hitting .201, worked full counts on each of his at-bats that produced a run. He was hoping the ball Eaton caught deep in foul territory down the third-base line would go out of play so he could see another pitch but will gladly take the RBIs the second time this season he has had two in a game without a home run.

Just had to continue to battle and finally get a pitch I could handle, Bradley said. Any time you can help the team win, its a positive. Its good, any way you can do it.

Rodriguez struck out six in six scoreless innings, mixing his change-up and slider in more often to keep Nationals hitters off-balance.

The Red Sox now have the first pair of 10-game winners in the majors with Rodriguez and Rick Porcello, whose double off Max Scherzer helped win them the first game of this series.

The Nationals have lost four series in a row. This freefall led to the postgame meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Its `Lets get this thing going, Nationals infielder Trea Turner said. We all know were capable of playing better baseball. Its time we do it. Its do or die now.

FEDDE HURT

Nationals starter Erick Fedde left the game one batter into the second inning with right shoulder stiffness and gave way to left-hander Matt Grace, who allowed just one hit and struck out four in four innings of relief. Manager Davey Martinez said Fedde was scheduled to have an MRI.

We watched him throw and his (velocity) was down Rock Ya-Sin Jersey , Martinez said. He was out there and wanted to keep pitching. I went out there and they told me he was stiff and I said `No, were not going to do that to you.

TRAINERS ROOM

Red Sox: Manager Alex Cora said LHP Drew Pomeranz (biceps tendinitis) would most likely make a second rehab start early next week. RHP Tyler Thornburg was activated from the disabled list after rehabbing from shoulder surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome last June.

Nationals: 1B Matt Adams was activated after missing 16 games with a broken left index finger. To clear room, LHP Tim Collins was designated for assignment. C Matt Wieters (left hamstring strain) is doing some catching, but still hasnt done enough running to be ready to return.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: After a day off, LHP Chris Sale (8-4, 2.41 ERA) brings a 15-inning scoreless streak into his Friday start at Kansas City, which is expected to start Jason Hammel (2-10, 5.56).

Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (2-1, 2.63) will look to last at least six innings to spare a heavily used bullpen when Washington faces RHP Pablo Lopez (1-0, 3.00) to open a four-game series against the Miami Marlins.



ATLANTA (AP)The Latest on the NFLs new policy requiring players to stand if they are on the field during the national anthem but permitting them to stay in the locker room if they prefer (all times EDT):6 p.m.Arizona Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea says the NFLs new national anthem policy is not really a compromise, as touted by the league.The 12-year NFL veteran noted that if you want to use your right of freedom of speech and take a knee, youre going to get fined. So its really not a compromise.(In reality, the team, not the player, would be fined.)Bethea noted that the NFL did give players the option of staying in the locker room while the anthem is played.Either its going to be a team thing and everybody stays in the locker room or everybody goes out and stands, Bethea said. But I think the fine thing is kind of overboard. I really do think fining players for really expressing what they believe, I think thats kind of overboard.Its a club policy so if the club supports the guys to do as they wish, then thats fine, too. If the club decides everybody stays in the locker room, thats a decision every team has to make.The players union also dismissed the idea that the policy was a compromise.The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new `policy, the NFLPA said in a statement.5:40 p.m.Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott says hes happy an agreement was reached on the anthem issue.Prescott says that Ill be out there standing. He added: Im sure we all know what (owner) Jerry (Jones) said. His statement was last year http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonli...-banogu-jersey , and I dont see that changing.While there was never a formal public declaration of such by Jones last year, the Cowboys owner had threatened to bench any players who did kneel.During a Cowboys game at San Francisco in late October, about a half-dozen 49ers kneeled while all the Dallas players stood, though defensive tackle David Irving raised his fist after the anthem ended.5:30 p.m.The Minnesota Vikings havent had any players kneel during the national anthem before games, and thats fine by coach Mike Zimmer.Zimmer has frequently avoided commentary on such non-football subjects, but on Wednesday after practice, he made his feelings known about the controversy. He said he was proud of the team last season for standing during the anthem.Zimmer said: I think its important we represent our country the right way. A lot of people have died for that flag. That flag represents our country and what we stand for.5:10 p.m.Cleveland Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor learned of the new anthem policy shortly after practice. He was a bit surprised players were not consulted.Taylor said that to make a decision that strong, you would hope the players have input on it but obviously not.Taylor added that its what we have to deal with as players, good or bad. But at the end of the day, they call the shots and make their rules and thats what we have to abide by.Taylor hopes that the focus will now be on what players and owners can do in the community.4:45 p.m.The New York Jets say they will pay any fines and not penalize players if they violate a new NFL policy to stand or stay in the locker room during The Star-Spangled Banner.Jets owner Christopher Johnson said Wednesday the team is focused on working with players to advance social justice issues rather than creating club rules or penalties that restrict demonstrations.The ruling approved by NFL owners fines teams for their players kneeling on the field during the national anthem in a move meant to stem widespread debate over protests started by former quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The policy leaves it up to individual teams to decide whether to pass that cost on by punishing players directly.Johnson says he plans to meet with Jets players and coaches to discuss the decision. He says hell support the players wherever we land as a team.4:25 p.m.Chicago Bears linebacker Sam Acho credits Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid and Michael Thomas for using their platform to raise awareness of social injustice.But he sidestepped the questions when asked if he was OK with how the league implemented the changes to its national anthem policy and whether the union should have had more input.Acho, a union representative, said that of course, somebody who is standing on the side of the union is going to say yes and people who didnt give the union a say the owners are going to say no. And so, what I do think is, I think were in a really good place, as a team, honestly as a country. Because were at this point, almost like a point of contrition, right? What do you do now?Acho also said the players and league need to continue working together to address the issue. He said that its not an us-versus-them thing.4 p.m.Denver Broncos union representative Matt Paradis says that while he wishes players were consulted on the new national anthem policy, NFL owners have every right to introduce new rules.Paradis says that they are the employers Parris Campbell Jersey , so if they want to create a stipulation, well go from there.Denver defensive end Derek Wolfe agrees with the leagues new mandate for players to stand for The Star-Spangled Banner or stay inside the locker room.Wolfe says: Thats probably the best way to do it. The NBAs been doing it for 20 years and they havent had an issue.2:45 p.m.Pittsburgh Steelers guard Ramon Foster shrugged his shoulders when asked about the NFLs new policy on national anthem protests, saying in a way, players are powerless.Foster says: `If the team says, `this is what were doing, and ownership (does too), you either deal with it or youre probably going to get cut. You can fight the resistance on that one but, same as we cant smoke marijuana because its illegal in certain states, its the same issue.The guard says, you have to adhere to the rules and if not, theyll find a way to get you up out of there.The Steelers botched an attempt last fall to stay out of the national anthem flap by remaining in the tunnel during a game in Chicago.Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a graduate of West Point who did three tours in Afghanistan before joining the NFL, found himself on the field when the anthem began playing and turned to face the flag. His teammates remained in the tunnel, leading to the stark image of Villanueva standing alone while his teammates remained out of sight 20 yards away.Villanueva and the rest of the Steelers apologized for what they called a miscommunication.12:45 p.m.NFL owners have approved a new policy aimed at ending the firestorm over national anthem protests, permitting players to stay in the locker room during the The Star-Spangled Banner but requiring them to stand if they come to the field.The decision was announced Wednesday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during the leagues spring meeting in Atlanta.In a sign that players were not part of the discussions, any violations of the policy would result in fines against the team not the players. The NFL Players Association said it will challenge any part of the new policy that violates the collective bargaining agreement.The owners spent several hours addressing the contentious issue which has reached all the way to the White House.Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, a quiet but powerful protest against police brutality and racial inequities in the justice system.Other players took up the cause.