Braves 6-3 over Nationals for second straight in Turner Field

Mike Zarrilli

The Atlanta Braves jumped on Taylor Jordan early in tonight's start and held on to the lead even though the Washington Nationals kept battling back. In the end it was another with for the defending NL East champs who beat the Nats 6-3 in Turner Field.

Turner Field Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: With Denard Span out of the lineup and on the 7-Day DL with symptoms of a concussion, 23-year-old, 2011 1st Round pick Anthony Rendon led off tonight, and started the game with a solo home run to center off 23-year-old Atlanta Braves' lefty Alex Wood, who watched a 92 mph 2-2 fastball sail out to center field in Turner Field as the visiting Nats took a 1-0 lead in the first.

Taylor Jordan gave up a one-out solo home run by B.J. Upton in the bottom of the first and the Braves kept crushing pitchers from the Nats' right-hander, with Justin Upton, Dan Uggla and Evan Gattis driving in runs in a 31-pitch opening frame that ended with Atlanta up 4-1 on the Nationals and their 25-year-old right-hander.

Justin Upton doubled with one down in the fifth, taking a first-pitch fastball to right field and the Braves' left fielder scored from second on a Dan Uggla single that made it 5-1 Braves in the 5th.

Ian Desmond walked to start the fifth, moved to second one out later on a walk by Kevin Frandsen, took third on a groundout by Sandy Leon and scored on a wild pitch by Braves' reliever Anthony Varvaro to make it a 5-2 game after five and a half in Turner Field.

Ian Desmond  hit a ground-rule double to right in the top of the eighth on another ball that got lodged under an outfield wall. This time it was Jason Heyward throwing his arms up, on another ball that was legitimately lodged. Sandy Leon drove Desmond in one out later with an RBI single that made it a 5-3 game in the eighth.

Freddie Freeman hit a solo home run in the eight to make it 6-3 Braves and that's how it ended.

4. Williams on Wood: Matt Williams was impressed with what he saw from 23-year-old Atlanta Braves' 2012 2nd Round pick Alex Wood in the left-hander's start against the Nationals last week in Washington, D.C. Wood gave up four hits and two runs in seven innings of work over which he struck out four and threw 107 pitches.

The Nats scored a run in the first on the third of three consecutive singles that started the inning, then added what ended up being the winning run in the 2-1 game in the seventh when Ian Desmond took a first-pitch fastball from Wood deep to left field in Nationals Park for a solo blast that broke up the deadlock.

"He's a good pitcher," Williams said after the game. "Good fastball. Both sides of the plate. And surprising fastball. He mixed in both a changeup and curve ball today for strikes when he wanted to. He's a good pitcher."

In three career starts against the Braves' NL East rivals before tonight, Wood was (0-1) with a 1.50 ERA, two walks (1.00 BB/9) and 16 Ks (8.00 K/9) in 18 IP over which he'd held the Nationals to a .231/.261/.292 line.

Tonight in Atlanta, Wood gave up a home run to the right of center field on the sixth pitch he threw to Nats' leadoff man Anthony Rendon, who was moved to the top spot when Denard Span was placed on the 7-Day Disabled List with a concussion after last night's collision with Dan Uggla on the basepaths.

Bryce Harper bunted his way on with one down and Kevin Frandsen singled in the next at bat to bring Sandy Leon to the plate as the tying run, but the Nats' backup catcher flew out to right, and Taylor Jordan K'd swinging to end a scoreless top of the second.

The Nationals stranded two in the third when Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond K'd swinging at balls from Wood to end the third inning.

Bryce Harper, walk, and Kevin Frandsen, single, reached base with no one out in the fourth, but Sandy Leon flew out to center and after Taylor Jordan K'd trying to bunt with two strikes, the Braves caught Harper too far off second and tagged him out for an inning-ending double play. #tootblan

Anthony Rendon was 2 for 2 with a walk after taking a free pass in a seven-pitch fifth inning at bat, and he took third one out later when Ryan Zimmerman doubled to right off Alex Wood. Adam LaRoche stepped in against the Braves' lefty with two on and one out, but Zimmerman got picked off second by Wood, injuring his thumb in the process and LaRoche K'd swinging on the next pitch to end the threat. Still 4-1 Braves.

Wood was replaced by Anthony Varvaro in the 6th.

Alex Wood's line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 Ks, 1 HR, 103 P, 64 S, 1/4 GO/FO.

3. Ground Ball Machine?: Taylor Jordan, who posted a 71.8% ground ball percentage in nine starts in his first MLB season last summer, induced eight ground ball outs from the 27 batters he faced in his 2014 debut last week when he faced the Braves in Washington. The 25-year-old right-hander held Atlanta to one run on six hits in 6 1/3 IP, throwing 89 pitches to the Braves' batters before he was lifted from the game in the seventh.

"I'm impressed with the way he went about it," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after that game.

"Got in a couple of jams, but used his sinker to get out of it. One early on. Especially a ground ball to third to get out of one, so that's what he's got to do. He's got to throw his fastball because it sinks so well. He's one pitch away from a double play all the time, so he pitched very well."

Jordan made his third consecutive start against the Braves tonight, going back to his last outing in D.C. and his final start of the 2013 campaign last August before he was shut down in his first full-year back following Tommy John surgery.

Heading into the second game of three for the Nationals in Turner Field, he'd allowed 13 hits and three runs, one earned in 12 1/3 IP against the Braves so far in his career, over which Atlanta's hitters posted a .283/.346/.304 line against the ' '09 9th Round pick.

Jordan took the mound with a 1-0 lead courtesy of Anthony Rendon's solo home run in the first at bat of the game.

1st: Atlanta got right back into the game when B.J. Upton took a 91 mph 1-0 fastball from Jordan to the left of center field for his own solo home run which tied things up at 1-1. Freddie Freeman took a 3-2 fastball to right field for a one-out single center in the next at bat, but Jordan struck Chris Johnson out with an 0-2 change before Justin Upton lined another 0-2 change to left field that got by Kevin Frandsen. Freeman scored on the play to make it 2-1 Braves and Upton took third on a horrible throw to the plate by Ian Desmond before scoring when Dan Uggla lined an 0-2 fastball to left for an RBI single that made it 3-1 Braves. Make that 4-1 after Evan Gattis got all of an 0-1 fastball and hit an RBI double to the wall in left.

Jordan was up to 27 pitches when he walked Andrelton Simmons intentionally to get to the opposing pitcher and 31 pitches when he got a grounder back to the mound from Alex Wood to end the first.

2nd: Jason Heyward took a 3-2 heater to center for a long fly ball out in the first at bat of the second. B.J. Upton was 2 for 2 tonight after he lined a sharp grounder by Ian Desmond at short on a 90 mph first-pitch fastball. Freddie Freeman hit a home run in a silo on an 0-1 fastball from Jordan, popping out to third for out no.2 and Chris Johnson K'd swinging over a 2-2 change to end a 15-pitch second. 46 pitches total for Jordan after two.

3rd: Justin Upton flew to deep center on an 0-2 slider. Dan Uggla K'd swinging at a 2-2 change. Evan Gattis took a 1-2 slider through short for a two-out single, but a swinging bunt to third by Andrelton Simmons ended the third after 14 pitches by Taylor Jordan, who was up to 60 pitches total after three.

4th: Alex Wood rolled an 0-1 slider out to short. Taylor Jordan missed with full-count fastball up high, walking Jason Heyward in the next at bat, but B.J. Upton hit a low liner to first to start what should have been a double play, if the umpires hadn't blow the call. With no challenge left, Matt Williams couldn't challenge the play, so it stood, and Freddie Freeman lined a sing-- nope. Nate McLouth made a sliding catch to end an 18-pitch inning that left Jordan at 78 pitches overall.

5th: After a groundout to third baseman Anthony Rendon by Chris Johnson, Taylor Jordan gave up a one-out double to right-center by Justin Upton, who lined a first-pitch fastball into the gap. Dan Uggla singled to left in the next at bat, and Kevin Frandsen's throw home was too late to get Upton. 5-1 Braves. Evan Gattis lined a high 0-1 fastball to right for another single off Jordan. Andrelton Simmons flew to right in the next at bat for what should have been out no.2, but Nate McLouth flat dropped the ball and everyone was safe with the bases loaded. Jordan got Ryan Doumit looking with a 1-2 change for out no.2. Jason Heyward took a 2-2 pitch inside that was called ball three, but K'd swinging at a change in the dirt to end the threat. 24-pitch inning for Jordan. 102 overall after five.

Taylor Jordan's line: 5.0 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 102 P, 67 S, 5/4 GO/FO.

2. Replay FAIL: Matt Williams challenged a call at first on a Nate McLouth bunt in the third, but the call stood, so the Nats' skipper lost his challenging privileges. When Adam LaRoche scooped up a low liner from B.J. Upton for what should have been a 3-unassisted DP, and the umpires got the call wrong, Williams had no ability to challenge the play.

Here's the first challenge that the Nats lost:


Upon review of what should have been a DP, it was clear LaRoche's glove was on the ground when the ball went in it, so there was no way it bounced, but the umpires decided not to have another look. Some system. Taylor Jordan got help from Nate McLouth on a sliding catch in right on what could have been an RBI hit by Freddie Freeman, so no damage was done, but with his pitch count already high, Jordan wasted a few more when he should have ben out of the inning.

1. Comeback?: With the score 5-1 Braves in the sixth, Sandy Leon stepped up with two runners on for the third time tonight after flying out to right with two runners on in the third and center with two on in the fourth. Leon was 0 for 3 on the night when he grounded out to first, but both runners moved up and Ian Desmond scored on wild pitch by Braves' reliever Anthony Varvaro with Tyler Moore up in the next at bat. 5-2 Braves.

Blake Treinen made his MLB debut in the bottom of the sixth wearing no. 64 for the Nationals. Freddie Freeman lined a one-out single to right and after Treinen struck Chris Johnson out with a 2-2 slider for his first major league K, Justin Upton singled on a sharp grounder to short on which Ian Desmond made a nice diving play before throwing it by second going for the force. Dan Uggla stepped in with runners on the corners and popped up to right to end an 18-pitch inning by the Nats' 25-year-old rookie right-hander.

Treinen threw a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 inning in the seventh.

Ian Desmond "doubled" to right when his line drive into the gap made it to the wall and got stuck. Jason Heyward threw his arms up and the play was ruled dead. Bryce Harper K'd swinging in the next at bat when David Carpenter threw a 96 mph 1-2 fastball by the Nats' center fielder. Sandy Leon drove Ian Desmond in with an RBI single to center in the next at bat to make it a 5-3 game. Jayson Werth rrrr-ripped a line drive off Freddie Freeman at first in the at bat that followed, allowing Leon to take third on what was ruled an errant throw to first when Freeman recovered it. Anthony Rendon flew to center to end the eighth. Two stranded. Two-run game.

Craig Stammen took over in the bottom of the eighth and gave up a solo shot to left by Freddie Freeman that made it 6-3 Braves. That's how it ended.

Nationals now 7-4

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