ATLANTA, GA - MAY 26: Danny Espinosa #8 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning against the Atlanta Braves to score Jesus Flores #26 and Stephen Strasburg #37 at Turner Field on May 26, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
• Right Side Danny, Socks High: Washington Nationals' leadoff man Danny Espinosa tucked a pop to left just inside the line and hustled around to second to beat the throw in from Atlanta Braves' left fielder Martin Prado for a leadoff double off Braves' lefty Mike Minor in the top of the first. Minor walked Bryce Harper in the next at bat, then had a Ryan Zimmerman groundout advance both runners so Espinosa could tag and score from third on a fly to left by Adam LaRoche. 1-0 Nationals. Minor completes a 24-pitch opening frame. Braves' leadoff man Michael Bourn lined a 95 mph fastball to center for a leadoff single in the home-half of the first, but Nats' right-hander Stephen Strasburg got ATL SS Tyler Pastornicky to ground into a 4-6-3 and got a grounder to shortstop Ian Desmond from Martin Prado for the third out of the inning. Grounder. Desmond. Out. And Strasburg's through an 11-pitch first at Turner Field.
MIke Minor got a groundout to third from Xavier Nady and a swinging K from Tyler Moore before he got into trouble with two outs in the second, surrendering back-to-back singles by Jesus Flores and the opposing pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, before Danny Espinosa got all of an 83 mph first-pitch change, taking it to left and over a leaping Martin Prado and the left field wall. 3-run HR. Espinosa's 5th, 4-0 Nationals after one and a half. A 26-pitch frame by Minor has the Braves' left-hander at 50 pitches after two innings...
• Uggla vs Stras: ATL second baseman Dan Uggla entered today's game 5 for 6 in his career vs Strasburg, but the Nats' starter struck the Braves' infielder out with a brutal 91 mph 2-2 change a pitch after Uggla fouled off a 99mph four-seamer. Strasburg let the next two batters on, however, walking Eric Hinkse and giving up a single by Jason Heyward. Juan Francisco followed with the second-straight hit, singling up the middle to bring Hinske in and an RBI groundout by backup catcher J.C. Boscan made it a 4-2 game in Atlanta. And Strasburg's up to 30 pitches in the inning when he throws a 96 mph full-count fastball by the opposing pitcher to end the second.
• Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: After a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 third by Mike Minor, Strasburg returned to the Turner Field mound and threw 1-2 changes by both Michael Bourn and Tyler Pastornicky for his third and fourth K's before walking Martin Prado with two down. Prado stole second with Dan Uggla up, and Uggla walked too to put two on with two out, but a groundout to Ryan Zimmerman off Eric Hinske's bat and a force at third ended the inning after 22 pitches by Stras. 4-2 Nationals. Strasburg's at 63 pitches after three innings pitched. Xavier Nady started the fourth with a leadoff double on the first pitch of the inning, but one out later (after a foul pop by Tyler Moore), Nady got doubled up at second on a line drive right to the bag by Jesus Flores that Dan Uggla fielded before stepping on the second base bag. Unassisted DP. 4-2 Nats in the fourth.
• Control: Stephen Strasburg issued his fourth walk in four innings when he put Jason Heyward on to start the home half of the fourth inning. Juan Francisco, who singled in his first at bat, lined a 94 mph 1-0 four-seamer to right the second time up, allowing Heyward to go first-to-third and put runners on the corners with no one out. A high fastball to J.C. Boscan got a pop to Nats' catcher Jesus Flores for out no.1 and a 78 mph 1-2 curve to Mike Minor got a grounder over the mound, through Strasburg's feet and right to Ian Desmond, who stepped on second and threw to first. Inning-ending DP, but the 14-pitch inning has Strasburg up to 77 pitches, just 39 of them strikes. 4-2 Nationals after four.
• 2-Out, 2-Run Uggla HR: Bryce Harper took a 2-2 pitch from Braves' lefty Mike Minor that should have been called strike three, but instead he got another pitch and took it to right for a line drive single, then took second when Jason Heyward bobbled the ball. Harper was hustling out to the box and he took advantage of a slight bobble of the ball on Heyward's part. Single and an E. Minor walked Ryan Zimmerman with two down to get to Adam LaRoche, who flew to left to end the Nats' fifth. Still 4-2 Nationals. Back-to-back benders and an 0-2 change got Stephen Strasburg his fifth K of the day and the first out of the Braves' fifth from Michael Bourn. An 89mph 1-2 change after a 97 mph 1-1 fastball got K no.6 and out no.2 from Tyler Pastornicky, but the Nats' right-hander gave up a two-out single by Martin Prado that extended the bottom of the fifth and brought Dan Uggla up. And Uggla tied it. 3-1 fastball. 2-run HR to center. 4-4 tie. Uggla's now 6 for 8 with a double and two home runs off Strasburg in their respective careers and Strasburg's up to 95 pitches after five.
• Hairy-Chested Bench Bat Hurts Groin: Braves' right-hander Kris Medlen took over for Minor in the sixth, immediately surrendering Ian Desmond's 14th double on a line drive to left, and the Nats' shortstop took third on an Xavier Nady groundout after a six-pitch battle. Pinch hitter Chad Tracy then doubled to left-center to bring Desmond in, but Tracy injured his groin while rounding first. 5-4 lead, but another injury to a key National. Rick Ankiel hit for Strasburg with two down and tripled to center (where Michael Bourn dropped it when he collided with the wall) to score Tracy's pinch runner (Edwin Jackson) and make it a 6-4 game. Nats' reliever Tom Gorzelanny gave up a two-out single in the Braves' sixth, but struck Matt Diaz out to complete a scoreless 16-pitch sixth.
• Oppo-Boppo: Braves' left-hander Jonny Venters hadn't allowed a home run by a left-hander yet this year, and had allowed just two by left-handers over the first 187.1 IP in his career before Bryce Harper took the reliever deep on a 94 mph 1-2 sinker. Harper hit a line drive to left that kept going til it reached the seats. 3rd HR of the year for Harper and a three-run lead. 7-4 Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman singled and took second on an error by Eric Hinske at first, then scored on an RBI double by Adam LaRoche to make it 8-4 D.C. before Venters could get out of the Nats' seventh. Tom Gorzelanny struck out the first two batters in the Braves' seventh, then got help from Ryan Zimmerman on a swinging bunt by Martin Prado that allowed Zim to do his thing, charging, fielding and throwing to first to end the bottom of the inning. Still 8-4 Nationals.
• Clippard Again: Right-handed reliever Chad Durbin threw a scoreless top of the eighth against the Nationals. Tom Gorzelanny came back out for the Braves' eighth, retiring Uggla, Hinske and Heyward in order for his third scoreless inning in relief. Craig Kimbrel threw a scoreless top of the ninth for Atlanta. Braves' third baseman Juan Francisco doubled to right off Gorzelanny in the Braves' ninth, ending Gorzelanny's day. Craig Stammen came on in relief, popping J.C. Boscan up for out no.1. Pinch hitter Jack Wilson worked a one-out walk, and Davey Johnson went to the bullpen for Tyler Clippard. A 1-2 change got Michael Bourn swinging for out no.2 and pinch hitter Brian McCann popped out to short to end it. The Nats take the first two of three in Turner Field.
• Miss The Game? The D.C. Faithful Were Watching...
• Doghouse's Post Game WPA Graph (- Doghouse's enviable wit and discerning judgement):
Nationals now 28-18.