So far this season, the young, contending team has drawn a crowd at least that big five times. In fact, the increased interest in the Nationals has helped set new attendance records for the stadium. Five of the 10 most-attended games in Nationals Park history have happened this season — and it’s only June.

This past weekend’s series against the New York Yankees, who are always a draw, had a combined crowd of 124,135 — only the second time in the stadium’s four-plus seasons that each game in a series had more than 41,000 fans. Two games of the three-game series last month against the Baltimore Orioles, also a contending team, had crowds of 42,331 and 41,918.

Overall, the average attendance at Nationals games is 29,598 — a 28 percent increase, or about 6,500 more fans per game — compared to this point last season. According to the team, that’s the third highest year-over-year percent increase after the Miami Marlins, beneficiaries of a new stadium, and the Detroit Tigers, preseason World Series contenders who spent a lot of money in the offseason.

The Nationals are in unfamiliar territory in first place in the National League East, and the experience of playing before larger home crowds could prove vital if they hope to play into October.

“It’s about as close to a playoff atmosphere as you’re going to get,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said following Sunday’s loss to the Yankees. “It can feel like a road game at times. I’m sure they get that no matter where they go, other than Boston, but that’s it. Get the place packed, get people going crazy, obviously draws a lot of media attention. It’ll be good for these guys, especially the young guys, to get used to it.”


The Nationals, the third-youngest team in baseball, are adjusting to life at the top of the standings.

Roger Clemens was acquitted of all charges in his perjury trail, writes Del Quentin Wilber and Ann E. Marimow.

Roger Clemens verdict won’t erase the shadow of some doubts, writes Mike Wise.


Class A Auburn’s roster was released and the player formerly known as Smiley Gonzalez and Bryce Harper’s brother, Bryan, are on it.

Thomas Boswell tells Nationals fans not to panic.

Bryce Harper bounces back well following his worst major league game yet.


Syracuse 11, Pawtucket 7: Xavier Paul went 3 for 4 and drove in three runs. Carlos Rivero and Jim Negrych drove in two runs each.

Harrisburg was off.

Potomac was off.

Hagerstown was off, too.

Auburn 6, Batavia 5: Shortstop Stephen Perez has two hits and drives in four runs in the Doubledays’ season opener.