DENVER (AP) — Opposing managers Dave Roberts and Bud Black are close friends. Star infielders Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt talk all the time.Just maybe not so much right now.This NL West title chase is serious business and shaping up to go down to the wire. Colorado holds a 1 1/2-game lead over Los Angeles and stretched its margin to 4 1/2 over Arizona by taking three of four this week. The Rockies are aiming for their first division title in franchise history.“I expected us to be in this position http://www.nationalsfanproshop.com/authentic-matt-wieters-jersey ,” Arenado said . “I thought we had the type of players who could do something like this.”Typically, Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill doesn’t start looking at the standings until mid-September. He made an exception after his win over the Rockies on Sunday, just to see where things stood.It’s scoreboard-watching season.“We have a beautiful scoreboard out there,” Rockies manager Black cracked. “We have to have that heightened focus we’ve had all season long. I don’t think you ratchet it up any higher. You keep it at a nice level of intensity with the focus but yet loose in your body to perform. I think our guys are in a pretty good spot.”This marks the latest in a season Colorado has been alone in first place since 1995.“It’s what you grew up dreaming about, having a chance to win the division and play important games like this,” Rockies shortstop Trevor Story said. “For me, though, it’s trying not to do too much. Just play within myself and that will be enough.”The Dodgers have 10 NL West titles since Colorado entered the league in 1993, while the Diamondbacks have five since ’98. The Rockies finished just behind Arizona in 2007, when they beat San Diego in a tiebreaker game for a wild-card spot and advanced to their only World Series appearance.Following a 7-3 homestand, Colorado embarks on a nine-game trip, including three in Los Angeles and three more in Arizona. The Rockies finish up with seven in a row at home against Philadelphia (four) and Washington (three).Los Angeles started a four-game set Thursday night in St. Louis with a win against a Cardinals team trying to get into the postseason. Then, the Dodgers play only division opponents the rest of the way.The Diamondbacks have the toughest stretch of the three. They still play a series in Houston against the reigning World Series champions and host a Chicago Cubs team that’s trying to win the NL Central.“Pretty much every game for us, the Dodgers and the Rockies has been a playoff game in September,” said Goldschmidt, whose Diamondbacks team is 3-9 this month. “You don’t get this opportunity that often. It should be a fun end to the year Joe Blanton Jersey , for whatever team comes out on top.”Arenado and Goldschmidt have been friends for a while, stemming from their meetings at All-Star Games and playing for Team USA. It’s on the backburner for the moment.“I probably won’t talk to him during this series,” Arenado said. “After it, we’ll talk a little more.”Roberts and Black go way back, too, with Roberts serving as one of Black’s coaches when they were together in San Diego.“He knows a lot of my tendencies. I know his,” Roberts said. “It’s going to be exciting. I know that.“(The tight division race) is great for baseball. It’s great for all three fan bases. It’s great.”The Dodgers have won five straight NL West crowns in mostly comfortable fashion — by 11 games in 2017, four in ’16, eight in ’15, six in ’14 and 11 in ’13.“It’s been a fun September so far, and a lot of good games from now on,” Dodgers utilityman Enrique Hernandez said. “It’s going down to the final series.”Colorado has 43 comeback wins this season, including five walk-off homers. The Rockies also feature two players who should garner some NL MVP votes in Arenado and Story. Arenado is hitting .301 with 34 homers and 100 RBIs, while Story is batting .292 with 33 homers and 102 RBIs.“We’re very confident we can (win a division title),” Story said. “That’s one of our goals. We’re going to go for it.” WASHINGTON (AP) — Essentially throwing in the towel on a disappointing season, the Washington Nationals traded second baseman Daniel Murphy to the Chicago Cubs and first baseman Matt Adams to the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.Despite a roster that boasts such stars as Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper Howie Kendrick Jersey , Washington went into a three-game series at home against Philadelphia with a losing record of 62-63, 7½ games behind the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves.General manager Mike Rizzo and ownership gambled at the July trade deadline, standing pat and expressing faith in the roster as constituted. The Nationals trounced the New York Mets 25-4 that night, but are 9-10 since, including a 2-5 road trip through Chicago and St. Louis that featured a 4-3 loss at Wrigley Field on a two-out, walk-off grand slam.“We felt that coming off that road trip and into this most recent homestand was a time that was a litmus test for us … and we felt that the timing was right to make the vital decisions that we had to make,” Rizzo said.The deals came three weeks after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and the Nationals aren’t getting much in return.For Murphy, who was hitting .300 since his return from knee surgery, the Cubs are swapping Class A infielder Andruw Monasterio and a player to be named or cash. For Adams, the Cardinals are sending $50,000 to Washington.“These are tough decisions, to trade a ultimate professionals like Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams is never easy,” Rizzo said. “We felt this was the best way to facilitate what we are trying to do not only in 2018 but beyond.”The 33-year-old Murphy was a big hitter during his time in Washington. A postseason star in 2015 with the Mets, he signed with the Nationals that winter and was an All-Star the next two years. Murphy missed the first 64 games this season but hit in 11 straight before being stymied by Miami’s Jose Urena on Sunday.“My thoughts are it’s really bittersweet,” Murphy said. “I sat at this podium probably 2 1/2 years ago. The Washington Nationals were the only offer I had. They took a chance on me three years ago and I feel very disappointed in myself that it kind of came to this point Sean Doolittle Jersey , I guess would be the easiest way to describe it.”Asked how close the team came to including Harper — a free agent after the season — in the Tuesday deals, Rizzo said: “You have to get a deal that makes sense to trade one of the elite players in the game.”Harper, who struggled for much of the first half, won the Home Run Derby during the All-Star festivities at Nationals Park. Since the break he is hitting .350 with seven home runs, 25 RBIs and 21 runs scored in 28 games.“I’ve been part of this organization for seven years and I look forward to coming in and doing my job every single day and I had no fear of being traded or let go on waivers or anything like that,” Harper said.The Nationals were coming off two consecutive division titles under manager Dusty Baker, who was fired after last season and replaced by rookie skipper Dave Martinez.Murphy expressed support for Martinez, without even being asked about him.“Right man for the job here in DC,” Murphy said.The Nationals’ high-water mark came on May 30 when they defeated the Orioles for their sixth straight win to improve to 33-22. They haven’t won more than three straight games since.“We’re definitely not in an ideal spot,” veteran first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “We had a chance a couple of times to gain some ground and couldn’t really string together many wins in a row.”Given the moves, Martinez was asked how he convinces his team that the three games against the contending Phillies are still big.“What’s funny is that I’ve had guys already come in the office and I don’t think I need to convince them,” he said. “They know what we are playing for and they’re all in.”To fill the spots created by the departure of Murphy and Adams, the Nationals recalled infielder Adrian Sanchez and outfielder Andrew Stevenson from Triple-A Syracuse.