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Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves: Game Report..."The Nationals Finally Get To Tim Hudson, But Can't Beat The Braves' Dancing Closer Mike Gonzalez...or...The Night Of The Rehab Beard."


Atlanta shortstop Brent Lillibridge ranges to his left and robs Willie Harris of a single up the middle, fielding on the run and throwing to first in time to get Washington’s speedy leadoff batter. Paul Lo Duca lines the first pitch to right, and Cristian Guzman pops a 2-0 pitch out to short...DC righty Tim Redding throws a two-strike fastball by Braves’ left fielder Gregor Blanco. Kelly Johnson grounds out to first. Chipper Jones vs. Redding...Ground ball to second, no score after one.


Hudson gets in on Austin Kearns’ fists, inducing a weak groundout to second. “Looks like Johnny Estrada left his razor behind on one of his many rehab starts,” my Brother, Scout, Braves Fan and Source For All Things Baseball observes. “I went with...’Johnny Estrada, (still wearing his DL beard), grounds out to first.’” Ronnie Belliard stares at a two-strike sinking fastball that breaks from outside into the zone at 90 miles an hour...Mark “Free-Agent-To-Be” Teixeira doubles to center off Redding to start the Braves’ second. Teixeira takes third on Austin Kearns’ arm when Brian McCann flies out to right. Mark “Double Play” Kotsay flies out unproductively to left. “Lillibridge looks like he’s twelve,” I tell Scout, who responds, “I went with thirteen.” (ed. note - “Does Scout have a blog?”) Redding throws an 0-2 pitch over the middle and Lillibridge blasts it over Willie Harris’ head in center for a two-strike, two-out, two-run double. 2-0 Braves. 


Mark Kotsay misplays a Kory Casto line drive into a double in the top of the third. Ryan Langerhans splits the right center gap with an RBI single, and the Clippers cut the Braves’ lead in half, 2-1 Atlanta. “That’s my joke,” Scout interrupts, “I said it earlier!” “Did you?” I ask... Tim Redding tries to bunt, and gets knocked down by an inside fastball on his bat, Hudson tries for second, but the throw's late and Lillibridge throws Redding out at first on the sac “bunt” while he's flat on his back. Willie Harris pops out unproductively to the infield. Paul Lo Duca rips a single up the middle of the infield to drive Langerhans in from second. 2-2 ballgame...Tim Redding walks Gregor Blanco the second time through the Braves’ lineup. Kelly Johnson flies out to right. Blanco running as Chipper Jones pulls an inside curve through second. Redding throws a low full-count fastball to walk Mark Teixeira. Bases loaded. Brian McCann laces a single to right on a low change, and drives in all three runs. 5-2 Atlanta. Redding throws a full-count fastball by Jeff Francouer. Mark Kotsay lines a 2-2 pitch to center to drive in McCann. 6-2 Braves.


Kearns down looking, Estrada flies out, Belliard chops a groundout to third, Tim Hudson’s through four with the lead...Tim Hudson rips Redding’s first pitch to right to start Atlanta’s fourth. Gregor Blanco takes a high strike three. Kelly Johnson spins a grounder out to Casto, who takes only the force at second. C.Jones up, Johnson steals second. “What’s the strategy there, Johnson?” Scout asks, “Just makes it harder for Chipper to know if they’re trying to walk him.” They were. Redding walks Chipper to face Tex. Tex flies out to center. Still 6-2 Atlanta.


 Casto pops out to short to start the fifth. Langerhans hits a check-swing groundout to Chipper at third. Pinch hittin’ Pete Orr singles off Hudson. Willie Harris follows with his own two-out hit. Paul Lo Duca? Lo Duca grounds to second, where Kelly Johnson makes an overdramatic sliding play to end the DC fifth...Jason Bergmann’s on in relief of Redding and pitches a quick 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth. 6-2 Braves. Cristian Guzman hits a one-hopper to first to start the sixth. Austin Kearns goes the other way with a backspinning grounder by first base for a double. Kearns moves to third on Johnny Estrada’s groundout to second. Ronnie Belliard lines a single to center to score AK. 6-3 ATL. Casto flies out to left, where Gregor Blanco catches it on the run at his hip...Lillibridge singles on a full-count fastball from Bergmann, allowing Hudson to lay down the sac bunt. Austin Kearns catches Grego Blanco’s fly ball to right. Kelly Johnson lines a two-out RBI single over short, Lillibridge scores, 7-3 Braves after six.


Ryan Langerhans takes a 1-1 curve from Hudson down the line in right for a leadoff triple!! Jesus Flores does his job, flying out to right to score Langerhans. 7-4 Braves. Willie Harris works a one-out walk. Paul Lo Duca grounds to second, but Harris was running so there’s no double play. Guzman archs a liner over the left side of the infield, Harris scores from second. 7-5 Braves, and Hudson’s done. Right-handed reliever Blaine Boyer (also wearing a beard), gets help from Chipper Jones, when Kearns lines off the pitcher and it bounces to third, where Jones fields and throws Kearns out...DC lefty Charlie Manning faces a right-handed hitting Teixeira in the Braves’ seventh, and Manning walks Tex. McCann throws his bat at an outside pitch and flies out to right. Manning stays on to face Francouer (also beared), who grounds to third, to second, and picked by Lo Duca at first**, double play. 7-5 ATL after seven.


Johnny Estrada grounds out to short. Ronnie Belliard stares at a low strike three. Boyer’s out so it’s Casto vs Will Ohman, Lefty vs Lefty...Ohman throws a slider inside for a swinging strike three from Casto... Manning comes back in the eighth. Mark Kotsay grounds out to Lo Duca at fist. Manning goes to a full count with Lillibridge, and gets another grounder, to second. Pinch hitter Martin Prado flies out to center. Manning puts the Braves down in order. 


3 outs to get 2 runs...The Braves’ Dancing Closer Mike Gonzalez shakes his hips like a pitching Elvis and delivers towards home where Ryan Langerhans waits...Jam shot, and Langerhans flies out to center. Pinch hitting Felipe Lopez drops a bloop single into center. Willie Harris drops a single into right, Lopez to third, Harris takes second, hustling all the way out of the box. Paul Lo Duca grounds out to second on a high chopper. Lopez scores. 7-6 Braves. Lo Duca out at first, Harris to third. Cristian Guzman gets hit on the hands...(Not hurt, not hurt??? Guzman takes first.) Austin Kearns lines the first pitch to right, Frenchy’s got it...Braves win 7-6.


(** = See that, MLB Scouts, Lo Duca, picking it at first!! Huh? Make an offer!")


Nationals now 36-61. (The Countdown to 100 Losses Stands at...39 Losses.)