The Washington Nationals hadn't swept a series with the Atlanta Braves in the nation's capital since Aug 29-31, 2008 when Odalis Perez with 6 1/3 strong innings on the mound; Elijah Dukes with a 10th inning walk-off walk and Aaron Boone with a three-run home run off of Elmer Dessens, helped the Nats win three consecutive games against their NL East rivals during the inaugural campaign in Nationals Park. The Braves swept the first two series in D.C. this season, but the Nationals' doubleheader sweep on Tuesday put them in a position to take three-straight from the NL East's first place team.
The Nats were 10-1 in their last 11 games heading into Wednesday's series and season finale with the Braves, but they dropped the third game of three in D.C. Their manager said though it was disappointing, the team just needed to move on quickly. "It's over," Davey Johnson said, after the Nats' dropped a 5-2 decision. "We've just got to start another win streak. It's that simple. We didn't get much going. We had the bases loaded, right guys up. We didn't get much. Walked in a run. Sac fly. And that was it."
The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning on the bases loaded walk Johnson mentioned. Jayson Werth took a full count fastball for Braves' lefty Alex Wood to force in a run and the sac fly was by Bryce Harper, who made it 2-0 after five, but the Braves struck back with home runs, one each by Dan Uggla and Justin Upton (with a runner on) in the sixth and an RBI double by Brian McCann in the seventh made it a 4-2 game in Atlanta's favor. The Braves added a run in the ninth when Anthony Rendon missed a soft liner to second by Jordan Schafer with a runner on third and Atlanta avoided the sweep with a win in Nationals Park.
Taking two of three at this point, with the Nats clinging to the what little hope they have of making a second straight postseason appearance, was not enough. "It's just not enough," the Nats' 70-year-old skipper told reporters. "We just can't afford to lose. It's that simple. We just need to get back at it tomorrow." A few hours after the Nationals' 71st loss (81-71), the Cincinnati Reds (87-66) beat the Houston Astros in extra innings to go 5.5 games up in the race for the second Wild Card spot with ten games remaining for the Nats and nine left for the Reds. The Nationals are five games back in the loss column if you like saying it that way better...
Ross Ohlendorf threw five scoreless on 57 pitches, but his 58th was a first-pitch fastball to Dan Uggla, who hit it 15-20 rows back in the left field seats for the Braves' second baseman's first home run in close to two months (since 7/25). A first-pitch slider to Justin Upton ended up out in the Red Porch seats for a two-run home that made it 3-2 Braves after five and a half.
"He was cruising," Johnson said. "Low pitch count. But that can happen. You make a bad pitch and BOOM." And then BOOM again. Ohlendorff gave up the Uggla home run and a single by Jordan Schafer on which the Nats' right-hander committed a throwing error that put the runner on third with no one out. Ohlendorff got the next two batters without Schafer scoring, but then left one up for Upton.
"He was still throwing pretty good," Johnson explained when asked if he'd thought about pulling his pitcher.
Ohlendorf's thrown five innings or less in each of his last four starts, and has appeared to hit a wall at some point around 80 pitches, but the Nationals' manager said he was still going strong. "He was 93-94," Johnson told reporters. "I mean, but he just didn't locate the pitch to Upton. Got the ball up. You know, cool night, he's still feeling pretty good. Even when he came in and I told him that was it he was -- he kind of questioned me. So I don't think it was one of those cases where he ran completely out of gas."
Pitching coach Steve McCatty came out to visit Ohlendorf right before the Upton home run.
"I was getting some time for the left-hander," Johnson said. "I was going to let him have Upton and then bring in [Xavier] Cedeno. But once [Ohlendorf] made that pitch, I let him finish."
More from Federal Baseball:
- Stephen Strasburg Scratched From Thursday's Start vs Marlins
- Braves 5-2 Over Nationals To Avoid Sweep In Nats Park
- Nationals' Wednesday Lineup; Anthony Rendon's 9th Inning Walk On Tuesday
- Where Would Nationals Be Without Tanner Roark And Ross Ohlendorf?
- Davey Johnson On The Secret Of Nationals' Starter Tanner Roark's Success