Stephen Strasburg's third start of the year began with three straight balls to Atlanta Braves' leadoff man B.J. Upton. The Nats' 24-year-old hander got to a full count, however, and got a fly to the warning track in center where Denard Span caught the first out of the game in front of the GEICO sign on Nationals Park's center field wall. Strasburg got up 0-2 on Jason Heyward, then hit the Braves' outfielder in the ribs. A 97 mph 1-2 heater up high got Justin Upton to chase for a swinging strike three and out no.2 and Evan Gattis popped out to Ryan Zimmerman in foul territory off third to end a 16-pitch first for the Nats' starter.
Braves' starter Tim Hudson gave up a leadoff single by Span in the Nats' first, then threw a pick attempt off the Nats' outfielder, allowing him to take second, but a Jayson Werth line drive to center looked like a hit and Span ran like it was one only to get doubled up by B.J. Upton after he made the catch and a throw in to second to complete the 8-4 DP. Bryce Harper's swinging K ended the first and Stephen Strasburg was right back on the mound in the nation's capital.
Dan Uggla beat Ian Desmond's throw from deep in the hole at short to first for a leadoff single in the second. Two outs later the Braves' second baseman moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, and Strasburg walked the no.8 hitter, Ramiro Pena when he missed with a full-count curve. Tim Hudson singled through short in the next at bat, but Bryce Harper charged it and the Nats' left fielder came up throwing when Uggla tried to score. Bad idea by the Braves' infielder, who was out by five feet and tagged by Wilson Ramos. Not even close. 7-3 putout for Harper. 0-0 after one and a half. 34 pitches for Strasburg after an 18-pitch inning.
Adam LaRoche grounded into a 3-6-3 DP after Ryan Zimmerman started the Nats' second with a single. Ian Desmond's groundout to third ended the second scoreless by Tim Hudson. Still 0-0.
A 1-2 curve got B.J. Upton swinging for the first out of the third and Strasburg's second K in 2.1 IP. Jason Heyward flew out to deep center for out no.2. A weak grounder to third off Justin Upton's bat should have ended the top of the third, but Ryan Zimmerman's throw to first pulled Adam LaRoche across Upton's path into foul territory and the Nats' first baseman dropped it. E:5. After Upton stole second, Braves' basher Evan Gattis got hold of a 96 mph 1-1 fastball from Strasburg and he launched it to left field and over the visitor's bullpen for a 2-0 lead after two and a half. 56 pitches in 3.0 innings for Stras after a 22-pitch third. Two uneared runs.
The Nationals went down in order against Tim Hudson in quick bottom of the third, after which the Braves' right-hander was as 35 pitches overall.
A 1-2 change got Juan Francisco swinging for the first out of the fourth and Strasburg's fourth K. Ian Desmond dove for a grounder headed for center, popped up and fired to first in time to get Chris Johnson for out no.2. + Range, +Arm. Ramiro Pena hit a weak liner to right that fell in for a two-out single, and Tim Hudson followed with his second hit today before B.J. Upton popped out to end the Braves' fourth. The 23-pitch inning had Strasburg up to 79 in 4.0 IP. Jayson Werth singled to right to start the Nationals' fourth, but three outs later he was stranded as Hudson completed a 15-pitch fourth at 53 total.
Denard Span tracked down another long fly ball for the first out of the fifth when Jason Heyward took a 96 mph full-count fastball for a ride. Wilson Ramos threw Justin Upton out on a weak grounder that rolled just a few feet in front of the plate and Strasburg threw a 97 mph 2-2 fastball by Evan Gattis for out no.3 and K no. 5 in 5.0 IP. The 16-pitch frame had Strasburg at 95 overall after five. Tim Hudson retired Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond for the first two outs of the Nats' fifth, but Danny Espinosa jumped on a first-pitch fastball and launched a two-out solo home run to right and over the out-of-town scoreboard to cut Atlanta's lead in half. 2-1 Braves after five.
Stephen Strasburg came back out for the sixth at 95 pitches overall. Ryan Zimmerman ranged to his left, got his glove on a grounder off Dan Uggla's bat and made a spinning throw to first that was on target for the first of the sixth. A 2-2 change got Juan Francisco swinging for out no.2 and K no.6 and Chris Johnson went down swinging on a full-count curve that ended a 17-pitch frame with Strasburg at 112 total with 7 Ks in 6.0 innings...
Strasburg's Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 1 WP, 1 HBP 112 P, 68 S, 4/3 GO/FO
Roger Bernadina struck out in a pinch hit appearance that ended Strasburg's third start. A Denard Span fly to right gave Hudson two quick outs in the sixth and Jayson Werth's groundout to short had the Braves' starter at 74 total after a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 6th.
Zach Duke retired the Braves in order in the top of the seventh, after which Tim Hudson retook the mound and retired the Nats in order with the help of a diving play in right field by Jason Heyward that robbed Adam LaRoche of a two-out extra base hit. Hudson was at 90 pitches total after 6.0 IP.
Henry Rodriguez came on in the seventh and issued a one-out walk to Justin Upton after sawing Jason Heyward's bat in half for the first out of the frame. A walk to Evan Gattis followed, putting two on for Dan Uggla, who K'd swinging through a 2-2 slider for out no.2 and Juan Francisco, whose groundout to second ended the top of the eighth with Atlanta still up by one. The Braves' brought left-hander Eric O'Flaherty in for the bottom of the eighth. After Ian Desmond flew to right, Danny Espinosa appeared to reach first safely when a throw tby Dan Uggla pulled ATL 1B Chris Johnson off the bag, but first base ump Bill Welke punched the Nats' second baseman out for the second out of the frame. Wilson Ramos grounded back to the mound and off O'Flaherty, but Dan Uggla got to the ball and threw to first in time to end the inning. Still 2-1 Braves after eight.
Ryan Mattheus gave up back-to-back singles by Chris Johnson and Ramiro Pena in the top of the ninth, and one out later a B.J. Upton bloop to right fell in for a base-loading hit. Jason Heyward then hustled down the line on a grounder to second and beat out the double play while a run scored to make it 3-1 Braves over the Nationals after eight and a half.
Atlanta's closer Craig Kimbrel came on for the ninth. Chad Tracy was down 0-2 quickly and flew out to right for the first out of the inning. Denard Span sliced the second out to left on a fly to Justin Upton. Jayson Werth? Called strike three. Ballgame.
Nationals lose, 3-1 final.
Nationals now 7-4