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9/9/07 The Atlanta Braves Step On A Nail...

     Newark Star-Ledger baseball writer Dan Graziano's Sunday Sports page feature "Quote of the Week" quotes Manny Acta, Nationals Manager this week, as Graziano writes,

          "Nationals Manager Manny Acta, whose team will
           play 19 of its final 22 games against the Mets,
           Phillies and Braves wanted to warn those teams not to  
           expect his to roll over for them: "We're like a
           construction site for those teams. You can walk on a
           construction site all over the place barefooted, but
           every once in a while you're going to step on a nail and
           get hurt."  

     After Atlanta starter Lance Cormier retires the Nationals in order to start the first, Braves leadoff hitter Willie Harris lines a double to right to start the bottom of the inning. Edgar Renteria's grounder to second moves Harris to third. Braves Manager Bobby Cox screams his vocal approval for "Rent" out of the right speakers of my stereo. Chipper Jones makes Nationals starter Jason Bergmann pay, taking a low 2-1 fastball two rows back in right for a two-run blast. 2-0 Braves. Bergmann gets Brian McCann swinging over a curve to end the first.

     Ryan Zimmerman fields a weak grounder from Andruw Jones coming in and fires to first online and in time for the second out of the second. Bergmann issues a two-out walk but gets the pitcher, Cormier, on a check-swing strike three to end the second. 2-0 Braves.

     Nationals catcher Jesus Flores is starting again in this day game after a starting last night's game, and he singles through short to lead off the third. Bergmann lays down a successful sac bunt to move Flores to second. D'Angelo Jimenez lines one into the right center gap to score Flores with a single. 2-1 Braves.

     Jason Bergmann issues a two-out walk to Chipper Jones in third, and Mark Teixeira's double to center allows CJones to score from first and lengthen the Braves lead to 3-1 after the top of the frame. Lance Cormier tortures Ryan Church with curve balls for the first out of the Nationals third. Edgar Renteria makes a great running throw to get Wily Mo Pena at first, and Cormier gets Jesus Flores to fly out to center.

     Ryan Zimmerman makes his second succcessful put-out of the game on a ground ball from Andruw Jones in the fourth, helping Bergmann to a scoreless frame. Both Cormier and Bergmann breeze through the fifth inning. Zimmerman leads off the sixth by grounding out to short. Dmitri Young lines his second hit of the day to left for a single. Austin Kearns lines a hanging curve to the wall in left center for a double moving DY to third. Ryan Church battles to a full count with Cormier and the "Sunday Slugger" takes Cormier deeeep to center and GONE!!! A hanging curve from Cormier ends up 400 ft away and over the wall for a three-run blast and a 4-3 Nationals lead.

     Brian McCann smacks a two-out double to center, barely beating the throw in to second from Church. Bergmann gets a fly ball from Francouer to end the sixth with the 4-3 lead. Ryan Langerhans beats out a surprise bunt to start the seventh off reliever Peter Moylan. Langerhans steals second. D'Angelo Jimenez lines another RBI hit with a double to right to score Langerhans. 5-3 Nationals. Belliard bunts Jimenez over. Zimmerman grounds out to third, Jimenez stays put. DY gets the intentionals with first open, and Moylan gets a fly out from Kearns to end the top of the frame. Stand up and stretch...

     Andruw Jones lines a single to left off Luis Ayala to start the Braves seventh. Kelly Johnson singles on a change up in the zone from Ayala. Pete Orr pops up a bunt, but it falls in front of the pitcher, and Zimmerman has to fire to first to get Orr. Ayala gets Willie Harris staring at strike three with a fastball outside. Edgar Renteria walks to load the bases, and Manny Acta, Nationals Manager has seen enough...Left-hander Arnie Munoz will turn Chipper around to the right side of the plate. Munoz gets a ground ball to short, and Jimenez takes the force at second to end the seventh. 5-3 Nationals.

     Braves lefty Ron Mahay gives up a walk to Jesus Flores and a single to Robert Fick with two outs in the eigth. D'Angelo Jimenez singles through short to score Flores. 6-3 Nationals lead. The Tallest Pitcher in MLB History, Jon Rauch will work the bottom of the eigth for the Nationals. Mark Teixeira takes Rauch to right for a line drive home run. 6-4 Nationals. Brian McCann pushes Austin Kearns back to the warning track for a long first out of the inning. Jeff Francouer lines a one-out single to left. Andruw Jones grounds the first pitch to short, Felipe Lopez to Belliard to Fick at first. Double play to end the eigth.

     Jose Ascanio comes back out for the Braves in the ninth after having closed out...THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! Solo shot to lead off the inning, and Ryan Zimmerman ends a nightmare weekend by giving the Nationals a 7-4 lead. Wait for it...

     Chad Cordero enters the game in the ninth wearing Washington's away grays, navy blue Nationals cap pulled down low over the brow casting his eyes into shadow below a brim as flat as deli-sliced American cheese. Kelly Johnson chases a fastball outside for strike three. Matt Diaz swings through a slider over the middle. Willie Harris grounds out to second. 1,2,3 Nationals win.

Nationals now 64-79.