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Washington Nationals Drop 4th Straight To Open Season...Nationals 5 Braves 6.

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6 Hours Later...(ed. note - "I know everyone's gonna go with the same title...")

In case you missed it or didn't stay up, check out last night's GameThread.

A storm descended upon Atlanta in the fourth inning of tonight's game, and what had been a steady drizzle all night erupted in a rather violent combination of large hail, high winds and tornado warnings, bringing not only the game but all of Fulton County, Georgia to a standstill for close to two hours...Then it passed. The Washington Nationals, who went into the delay trailing 4-1 battled back with a three-run sixth to tie it 4-4. 

The Atlanta Braves took the lead back in the seventh when Brian McCann doubled off DC reliever Saul "Sa-ool" Rivera, and scored on a Jeff Francoeur single to make it 5-4 Atlanta, and the Braves would've had a two-run lead after the eighth if Elijah Dukes hadn't thrown Braves' second baseman Kelly Johnson out at the plate when Johnson tried to score from second on a Yunel Escobar single to right...Dukes' outfield assist kept the Nationals close enough that Lastings Milledge's bases loaded infield single in the ninth off ATL closer Mike Gonzalez's glove allowed Nick Johnson to score from third and send the already five-and-a-half hour old game into extra innings.

In the bottom of the 10th, the Braves got a leadoff single from rookie center fielder Jordan Schafer. Omar Infante failed at two sac bunt attempts, but ended up getting the job with a groundout to advance Schafer to second, bring the left-handed hitting Kelly Johnson to the plate to face DC lefty Joe Beimel. Johnson lined to right, Elijah Dukes cames charging in and threw on the run, but Schafer scored from second of the walk-off win and the end of a very long night. 6-5 final, Braves win.

Nationals now 0-4. 

-- Shairon Martis gave up 5 hits, 3 runs, a HR and a walk in the abbreviated 3.0 inning outing. The Braves' didn't bring starter Derek Lowe back out after the delay either, and the Nationals eventually got to the Braves' bullpen after Lowe had held them to 1 run on 4 hits with 6 K's in his own 3.0 innings of work. In the top of the sixth, Buddy Carlyle gave up three-straight two-out hits to Cristian Guzman, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn, which scored three to tie the game at 4-4. 

-- In all, both teams combined to use 15 pitchers last night. Wil Ledezma followed Martis, and Julian Tavarez, Steven Shell, Mike Hinckley, Saul Rivera and Joe Beimel followed. The Braves replaced Derek Lowe with Buddy Carlyle and then turned to Peter Moylan, Eric O'Flaherty, Jeff Bennett, Rafael Soriano, Mike Gonzalez and Jorge Campillo. Campillo took the win, Beimel the loss. 

-- According to Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's post game wrap-up at the Nationals Journal entitled, "Six Hours Later, Another Loss", Elijah Dukes, who seemed to injure himself throwing in from right on the game-ending hit, "...has a tender groin." Dukes finished the night, 3 for 6 with one briliant outfield assist.

-- How about Lastings Milledge with the game-tying, two-out, bases loaded, infield single in the 9th. That's the kind of luck that could give Milledge some of his confidence back...

-- Update: According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's blog post entitled, "Will Obama be at home opener", the Washington Times' report yesterday may have been premature, as Mr. Ladson quotes Nationals' team President Stan Kasten saying:

"'We just don't know. We would love for him to come whenever he can,' Kasten said before the Nationals faced the Braves on Friday. 'I do not know if he is coming on Monday. He is a busy guy. His schedule is subject to change.'" 

-- The Nationals and Braves meet again tonight at 7:00 pm EST with DC lefty John Lannan taking on ATL right-hander Kenshin Kawakami. 

 For the Completists, Full Game Report After The Jump...

 

Game 4 of 162. Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves. 

 

Adam Dunn is up with two outs in the first and Cristian Guzman at first after having singled in the game’s second at bat. Dunn stares a two strike fastball inside all the way in and K’s looking to end the Nationals' first....(Let’s catch up...Lastings Milledge K's swinging, Guzman singles, Ryan Zimmerman K's swinging then Dunn)...Shairon Martis starts Kelly Johnson with two fastballs up high, and ends up allowing an infield single on a 2-2 pitch. Yunel Escobar helps Martis out, grounding to Cristian Guzman at short, Guzman steps on second and fires to first. Chipper Jones rolls over the first pitch, grounding out to second. 

 

89 mph with a letter-high fastball inside and Derek Lowe gets Nick Johnson looking to start the DC second. Elijah Dukes takes the first pitch he sees and flies out to right. Jesus Flores’ grounder to third skips on Chipper Jones and bounces off his glove for an infield single/error. Willie Harris grounds to Kelly Johnson to Casey Kotchman at first to end the inning...Brian McCann starts the Braves’ second with a double off the wall in center. Shairon Martis fields his position on a weak grounder and looks the runner back to second before throwing out Casey Kotchman. Jeff Francoeur pushes a slider outside out to right for Elijah Dukes to play and fire in. Matt Diaz, with McCann on second, flies out to center, Milledge catches it coming in...

 

Derek Lowe gives up a single to the opposing pitcher. Lastings Milledge gets hit on the hand with a fastball. Cristian Guzman lays down a perfect sac bunt bringing up Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman goes the other way with an outside pitch and gets it over Jeff Francoeur’s head and into the scoreboard, Martis scores. 1-0 Nationals. Adam Dunn gets the intentionals from Lowe. Bases loaded for Nick Johnson, who works the count full. Nick Johnson K’s swinging at a sinking fastball inside. Elijah Dukes K’s chasing an 82 mph slider off the plate. 0-0...Jordan Schafer gets a sharp grounder by Nick Johnson at first for a leadoff single. Zimmerman charges in and takes his time throwing Lowe out at first after a sac bunt that drops in front of the plate. Randy St. Claire comes out to talk to Martis after he walks Kelly Johnson, and Yunel Escobar gives a 2-0 fastball a ride, deep to left center and gone, 3-run HR. 3-1 Braves. Martis gets Chipper Jones swinging. Brian McCann pops up the first pitch he sees and Ryan Zimmerman, Guzman and Dunn all lose the ball and let it drop to the ground for an embarrassing McCann double. Zimmerman barehands a weak grounder from Kotchman and throws out the runner to end the Braves’ third. 

 

Jesus Flores takes a patient leadoff walk to start the fourth in a downpour. Willie Harris K's looking. Josh Bard singles so hard to right that Flores almost gets nailed at second by a hard-charging Francoeur. Lastings Milledge rips a single through second to load the bases. Cristian Guzman pops out unproductively to left. Ryan Zimmerman rips a grounder to third, Chipper takes the force at second...Wil Ledezma takes over on the mound for Martis. Francoeur swings through a two-strike heater. Ledezma walks Diaz. Jordan Schafer swings over a heater inside. Buddy Carlyle K’s to end the fourth.

 

Adam Dunn takes a leadoff walk in the fifth when Buddy Carlyle won’t come near the plate. Nick Johnson hits a perfect DP grounder to Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson and Kotchman. Elijah Dukes tears the cover of a single through short. Carlyle throws a high outside fastball by a swinging Jesus Flores who K’s to end the fifth...Kelly Johnson grounds the first pitch to Willie Harris at second. Willie Harris knocks down Yunel Escobar’s grounder behind second, but that’s all he can do with it, infield single for Escobar. Escobar takes second on a pitch in the dirt that gets away from Flores. Chipper takes ball four and it gets away from Flores, letting Escobar take third. Brian McCann gets one deep enough in left that Dunn doesn’t even try. Escobar scores, 4-1 ATL. Casey Kotchman gets jammed but singles up the middle. Ledezma’s out for Julian Tavarez. Tavarez gets Francoeur swinging at a slider outside to end the inning. 

 

Willie Harris vs Carlyle to start the sixth. Harris works a walk. Fielder’s choice on a Josh Willingham grounder to third with Harris running. Lastings Milledge rips a grounder to first, Kotchman handles it. Guzman battles Carlyle and gets his pitch, going back up the middle with a single to score Harris, 4-2 Braves. Carlyle’s out. Peter Moylan and Ryan Zimmerman renew their rivalry. THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! RBI double to center to score Guzman, 4-3 Braves. Eric O’Flaherty takes over against Adam Dunn. Dunn bounces one off Kotchman at first, and Zimmerman comes round, 4-4 score. Nick Johnson grounds right to the second base bag, Escobar fields and tags it....Steven Shell vs Diaz to start the Braves’ sixth. Shell walks the leadoff batter. Jordan Schafer pops up a bunt attempt for the first out. Greg Norton skies one to Milledge in center. Mike Hinckley comes on to face Kelly Johnson. Hinckley gets a weak fly ball to left, Dunn’s got it. 

 

Jeff Bennett throws Dukes a fastball that gets lined to center. Jesus Flores bunts Dukes over to second. Bennett hits Willie Harris in the thigh. Austin Kearns works a one-out walk. Lastings Milledge hits a 3-1 pitch to third, Chipper to Johnson at second, to Kotchman, double play...Saul “Sa-ool” Rivera vs Yunel Escobar to start the Braves’ seventh. Escobar grounds out to short. Chipper Jones pops out to his counterpart at third. Kotchman gets the intentionals to bring up Francoeur, who singles up the middle, McCann scores, 5-4 Braves. Diaz takes strike three. 

 

Rafael Soriano vs Guzman to start the eighth. Guzman flies out to right. Soriano throws a 92 mph heater by Zimmerman up high. Dunn grounds into the dramatic shift to end the eighth...Jordan Schafer gets called out on strikes. Garret Anderson tops one off to second for out No. 2. Kelly Johnson strokes a two-out hit to left and takes second on Dunn’s arm...Yunel Escobar lines to right, Dukes comes up throwing and nails Kelly Johnson at the plate, 5-4 Braves after eight.

 

Braves’ closer Mike Gonzalez gets a line drive to left from Nick Johnson, but Matt Diaz just misses it, and it goes to the wall for a double. Elijah Dukes singles Johnson over to third. Jesus Flores flies out unproductively to right. Pinch hitter Alberto Gonzalez walks to load the bases. Wil Nieves swings at a high full count fastball. Strike three. Lastings Milledge swings at an 0-2 pitch and bounces it off Gonzalez’s glove. Johnson scores from third, 5-5 ballgame. Cristian Guzman K’s swinging. Braves get one more shot...Joe Beimel on to hold it. Chipper Jones singles to center on the first pitch he sees. Jones takes second on a fly ball to left from McCann. Casey Kotchman takes one in the ribs from Beimel. Kotchman flies out to Milledge. Matt Diaz flies out to center, and it’s going to be extra innings at 1:00 am...

 

Ryan Zimmerman starts the 10th against Jorge Campillo. Ryan Zimmerman smokes a line drive to third for the first out. Adam Dunn takes a one-out walk in front of Nick Johnson. Johnson K’s chasing junk off the plate. Elijah Dukes grounds out to third...Beimel’s back with Jordan Schafer up first...Schafer goes the other way on an inside pitch for a leadoff single. Omar Infante tries to bunt, but can’t and ends up just grounding out to advance the runner. Beimel vs Kelly Johnson. Johnson lines to left, and Elijah Dukes’ throw is too late...Braves win. 6-5 final. 

 

Nationals now 0-4.