WASHINGTON -- Wilmer Difo hit his first major league homer, and Pedro Severino his second, helping the injury-depleted NL East champion Washington Nationals move closer to clinching home-field advantage in the Division Series by beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3 at a near-empty stadium on a dreary Thursday.Second baseman Difo and catcher Severino, both rookies, were in the lineup instead of Daniel Murphy (last started 12 days ago) and Wilson Ramos (out for the season), respectively.Last in the NL West, Arizona has nothing at stake the rest of the way. The Nationals, while already assured of winning their division and of facing the Los Angeles Dodgers to open their postseason, still are trying to lock up a higher seeding for that series.Washington began Thursday with a two-game lead over NL West champion LA for the right to host more games in the best-of-five NLDS. The Dodgers, though, hold the tiebreaker because of a 5-1 advantage in the teams season series.Nationals starter Joe Ross, working his way back from a stay on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, allowed one run in four innings, throwing 90 pitches. Washington wants to stretch him out to be able to start at some point in the playoffs.Reliever Reynaldo Lopez (5-3) was credited with the win. He pitched 3 2/3 innings, letting up Socrates Britos two-run homer in the ninth before being lifted.Mark Melancon got the last two outs for his 45th save.Robbie Ray (8-15) allowed five runs in 4 2/3 innings, including solo shots by Severino in the third and Difo in the fifth, along with Michael A. Taylors two-run single in the fourth.TRAINERS ROOMDiamondbacks: RF Yasmany Tomas was a late scratch from the starting lineup because of a stiff neck.Nationals: 2B Murphy (glute muscle) and RF Bryce Harper (left thumb) sat out again. Manager Dusty Baker said he expects to get Murphy back in the starting lineup for Game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers on Oct. 7. Murphy last began a game on Sept. 17. He might get a pinch-hit, but I dont want to take him backwards, Baker said. Well probably have an intrasquad game or something to get him some live pitching.Harper, meanwhile, was out of the lineup for a fourth consecutive day, but mainly as a precaution on a wet day. Im still a little afraid. If he hits the ball solid, its not going to hurt. But if he gets rattled or hits one on the end or gets jammed on one, its going to send electric shocks through his body, Baker said.RAMOS STOPS BYRamos, out for the rest of 2016 because of a torn ACL in his right knee, stopped by the home clubhouse before Thursdays game. He is waiting for the swelling in his knee to go down before having surgery. Asked whether he would be around the Nationals during the playoffs, Ramos said: Im going to have to support the team from home, because its going to be very difficult for me to get around with the knee after the surgery.Ramos can become a free agent this offseason, and reportedly turned down a contract offer before he got hurt.If its up to me, he said Thursday, I definitely would like to keep playing for the Nationals and play as long as I can.UP NEXTDiamondbacks: Open a season-closing, three-game home series against the San Diego Padres, with RHP Braden Shipley (4-5, 5.26 ERA) starting for Arizona on Friday. The Diamondbacks and Padres are two of the four worst teams in the NL.Nationals: Their final regular-season series begins Friday against the visiting Miami Marlins. RHP A.J. Cole (1-2, 5.09) is slated to pitch for Washington, but he is waiting to hear the outcome of his appeal of a five-game suspension for throwing at a batter. 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PARIS -- If Andy Murray is to take Novak Djokovics No. 1 ranking at the Paris Masters this week, he must play significantly better than he did in a scrappy win against Fernando Verdasco in the second round on Wednesday.Murray becomes No. 1 if he wins the tournament and Djokovic -- winner for the past three years -- does not reach the final.Djokovic began his quest for a fourth straight Paris Masters title by easing past Luxembourgs Gilles Muller 6-3, 6-4.Murray is full of confidence after three straight tournament wins, but needed to scrap hard to beat Verdasco 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-5.Murrays 12th win in 13 career matches against the Spaniard was unconvincing and he needed 2 1/2 hours to prevail.I didnt feel that comfortable, Murray said. The match wasnt played on my terms. He was dictating the points.It was scrappy stuff as they conceded 25 break-point chances between them.It wasnt the best match, said Murray, who next faces 13th-seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille. I will play better tomorrow.U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka will not get that chance.The third-ranked Swiss lost to Germanys Jan-Lennard Struff 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (1), letting Struff off the hook when he failed to convert a match point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker.There was no such drama for Djokovic.Celebrating his win several hours earlier, he tapped his hand against his heart and made a throwing gesture to all four sides of the court as if to share the moment with the crowd.Djokovic has a special bond with Paris, also winning this tournament in 2009 and clinching the French Open in June to complete his collection of all four majors.Djokovic saved the only break point he faced in the second set and was clinical when it mattered.With the score 4-4 and 30-40, Muller sent down a strong serve that Djokovic returned with venom. It surprised Muller, who swatted a forehand into the net.The Serb sealed victory on his first match point with an ace straight down the middle.He next faces Grigor Dimitrov in the third round and has a 5-1 career recorrd against the 14th-seeded Bulgarian, while Murray leads Pouille 2-0.ddddddddddddPouille earlier advanced by beating Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4.Hes a big hitter, Murray said about Pouille. He takes chances.Murray moved 4-2 up in the second set against Verdasco. But after the Spaniard leveled the match in a tense tiebreaker, Murray swiped his racket angrily through the air and then yelled at himself when he sat down.His frustration was not over.Murray broke to lead 2-0 in the deciding set, but Verdasco held on.Finally, Murray broke him to love in the 12th game to win.Wawrinka was out of sorts in his clash. In the first set, he made 20 unforced errors and gave nine break-point chances, but Struff failed to convert any of them.When Struff eventually broke Wawrinka in the seventh game of the deciding set -- at the 14th attempt -- Wawrinka tossed his racket to the ground.Serving for the match at 5-4, Struff returned the favor, double-faulting to hand Wawrinka a reprieve.But Wawrinka fell apart in the tiebreaker as Struff advanced to meet big-serving American John Isner.Earlier, fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan downed Viktor Troicki of Serbia 6-2, 7-5 and next faces 11th-seeded Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, who beat Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-4.David Goffin kept alive his slim chances of qualifying for the season-ending ATP finals in London by defeating Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (5), 6-3.Ninth-seeded Marin Cilic can also still qualify for London and he won 7-6 (7), 6-2 against Ivo Karlovic.Isner had 12 aces in a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4) win against 15th-seeded David Ferrer. It was his second win in nine matches against the Spaniard, and both have been here.In other second-round matches, American Jack Sock beat sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem 6-2, 6-4; Gilles Simon downed Roberto Bautista Agut 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (6); and No. 16 Pablo Cuevas won 6-1, 6-2 against Paolo Lorenzi. cheap falcons jerseys cheap ravens jerseys cheap bills jerseys cheap bears jerseys cheap bengals jerseys cheap cowboys jerseys cheap lions jerseys cheap texans jerseys cheap colts jerseys cheap jaguars jerseys cheap chiefs jerseys cheap rams jerseys cheap dolphins jerseys cheap vikings jerseys cheap saints jerseys cheap giants jerseys cheap jets jerseys cheap eagles jerseys cheap steelers jerseys cheap 49ers jerseys ' ' '