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Washington Nationals Lose To Atlanta, Start '09, 0-5. Braves 5 Nationals 3.

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Nationals Start '09, 0-5.

Atlanta Braves' starter Kenshin Kawakami started his MLB career with a win over Washington, throwing 6.0 scoreless and allowing just 4 hits, 4 walks and 3 ER, 2 of them on a HR by Ryan Zimmer...THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! Ryan Zimmerman's all doubles and now a HR this year, preferring not to settle for singles, and his first HR gave the Nationals a 3-1 lead in third that DC starter John Lannan couldn't hold. The Braves take the lead with a 3-run 4th, led by Jordan Schafer and Kelly Johnson, who both double, with Schafer knocking in one and Kelly Johnson two for a 4-3, and later, 5-3 Atlanta lead which the Braves' bullpen, (Peter Moylan, Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez), holds and saves.

Kawakami vs Lannan...

The 33-year-old MLB rookie outpitched the 24-year-old third-year starter tonight, though Kawakami, obviously, had a long career in Japan before his MLB debut, while Lannan's just 94 starts into his professional career. Kawakami came to Atlanta with a 112-72 record over 11 seasons in Japan. He'd also played for two Olympic teams, and earlier in his career been awarded, "...the Sawamura Award as Japan's top pitcher in 2004 ," as Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer David O'Brien wrote in an article entitled, "Braves land Japanese Ace Kawakami", back when the Braves signed the right-hander in January. 

Kawakami gave up a run-scoring single to Nick Johnson in the first after he'd walked both Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn with two outs in the frame. The two-run home run that Zimmerman hit in the third was to the opposite field, and was the only other of the 4 hits Kawakami surrendered that hurt the Braves' starter. Lannan gave up 9 hits overall, but the solo shot  Kelly Johnson hit in the third, and the two doubles in the fourth were all the Braves would need to beat the Nationals, who came up empty in each of the next six frames following Zimmerman's homer.

Offense? 

Lastings Milledge ends the night 0 for 4 with 3 K's. Adam Dunn 0 for 2, with 2 walks and 2 K's. Austin Kearns 0 for 3, and Jesus Flores 0 for 4, with 3 K's. Zimmerman had the 2-run HR, and Nick Johnson the RBI single, but all of the Nationals' runs scored before the end of the third inning, and as soon as the Braves took the lead in the fourth, the Nationals' offense shut down completely, with only two walks from Kawakami and a Cristian Guzman double resulting in any baserunners from the third inning on...

Looking For Work...

"Wild" Joel Hanrahan, who was just looking for work, came on in the bottom of the eighth and allowed a run on 2 hits, with Jordan Schafer again doubling and then scoring on a two-out single by Yunel Escobar. Braves' closer Mike Gonzalez got a ground ball and two swinging K's and closed out the Braves' fourth win of the season. Atlanta now 4-1. 

Braves win, 5-3 final. 

Nationals now 0-5.

For The Completists, Full Game Report (currently unedited) After The Jump...

Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves. Game 5 of 162.

Kenshin Kawakami has a slow winding delivery that picks up speed only after he’s through with his leg kick, then it’s all one quick forward motion as he unwinds and whips the ball from behind his back toward home. Lastings Milledge waits on a 2-2 curve but can only lift it as far as dead center field. Cristian Guzman pops out to Matt Diaz in left. “Please get me a new left fielder,” My Brother Scout, Braves’ fan and Source For All Things Baseball complains, “That “miss” on the fly ball in left last night that allowed the Nationals to tie it was awful.” “How about Willingham? You can have Josh Willingham in left in Atlanta?” “He’s not much better than Diaz, I’d rather have Blanco, Gregor Blanco or Brandon Jones in left.” Ryan Zimmerman walks in front of Adam Dunn. Kawakami can’t find the plate, going full against Dunn, and walking the second straight batter. Nick Johnson rips a line drive to right, and Ryan Zimmerman avoids the tag at home, “It was a great throw from Frenchy,” Scout says, “Zimmerman made a great slide toward the back corner of the plate,” 1-0 Nationals after a half...Kelly Johnson’s taking all the way, so John Lannan throws three straight strikes for a K. Lannan issues a one-out walk to Yunel Escobar. Chipper Jones gets jammed and pushes a DP grounder to second, Willie Harris to Cristian Guzman to Nick Johnson at first, 1-0 Nationals after one. 

Kawakami hits the outside edge with a two-strike slider to get Austin Kearns looking for the first out of the second. Jesus Flores strikes out swinging at a big looping curve. Willie Harris lifts a line drive to right for a two-out single. Kawakami abuses Lannan and completes a scoreless frame....Brian McCann sends Guzman sprinting into left to catch a pop fly for the first out. Jeff Francoeur grounds out to the Amazing Willie Harris at second. Lannan walks Matt Diaz with two outs, and gives up a sliced single to center to Casey Kotchman. Jordan Schafer hits a slow roller off the end of his bat and beats the covering Lannan to first to load the bases. Kawakami? Grounds out to third to end the second. 

 

A two-strike high inside heater hits Milledge’s bat and goes right into Braves' catcher Brian McCann’s glove. Cristian Guzman waits on a curve and slaps it through second. Ryan Zimmer...THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! Fly ball to right and GONE!! 2-run HR, 3-0 Nationals. Adam Dunn K’s swinging over a change. NIck Johnson grounds to Chipper, who throws to first to end the DC third...Kelly Johnson starts the Braves’ third with a long fly ball to right and into the first row. 3-1 Nationals. Lannan walks Yunel Escobar in front of Chipper. Lannan gets Chipper Jones with a sinking slider inside. Brian McCann  gets robbed by a diving Nick Johnson, who stabs and steps on the bag. Francoeur grounds out to short. Inning over. 

 

Austin Kearns walks to start the fourth. Jesus Flores can’t hold back as a two-strike curve drops in for strike three. Willie Harris takes a full-count curve for ball four. John Lannan bunts it too hard to the pitcher who takes out the lead runner at third. Lastings Milledge can’t hold back (according to the Ump), and gets called out on a check swing strike to end the DC fourth...Lannan covers first on a weak grounder from Diaz, who beats out an infield single by a half-step. Nick Johnson picks a short hopping grounder from Kotchman and throws to second for a force. Jordan Schafer goes over first and into the corner in right with a double. Kotchman to third. Kawakami grounds out to short, and Guzman fires wide of first but gets help from Johnson who catches and reaches back with a toe to tag the bag. Kelly Johnson drops a blooper in short center, two runs score, 3-3 ballgame. No one covers second, so Kelly Johnson takes it. Willie Harris saves a run by knocking down a grounder up the middle. Lannan hangs one up for Chipper Jones, who knocks in a run with a single through short. 4-3 Atlanta. McCann flies out to left, Dunn’s got it.

 

Yunel Escobar fields on his backhand and throws out Cristian Guzman. Ryan Zimmerman tests Escobar again, two down. Adam Dunn K’s, mesmerized by a bender...A fly ball to Kearns in right from Francoeur and there’s one down. Diaz chops a grounder to third, two down. Kotchman grounds to second, Willie Harris fields and throws.

 

Nick Johnson lines a singl...Chipper Jones dives and makes the catch on a low liner. Jesus Flores pops up foul of first to end the DC sixth...Jordan Schafer grounds out to first to start the bottom of the frame. Martin Prado hits for the pitcher. Lannan drops a two-strike curve in front of a swinging Prado. Kelly Johnson hits a two-out single to left. Yunel Escobar grounds to second, Willie Harris throws to first. 4-3 Braves after six. 

 

Peter Moylan, the side-winding Aussie, gets Willie Harris swinging at a low sinking change outside. Josh Bard gets called out for another check swing K. The Ump likes the low strikes and he calls Milledge out looking at another one...Mike Hinckley gets a glove on a Chipper Jones’ grounder and dulls it for Willie Harris who fires to first, in time. Brian McCann flies out to Lastings Milledge in left center. Mike Hinckley issues a two-out walk to Jeff Francoeur. Julian Tavarez comes on to face Diaz. Fly ball to right, Kearns closes his glove on the seventh. 

 

Rafael Soriano on the mound for Atlanta. Cristian Guzman doubles over Francoeur in right to start the DC eighth. Ryan Zimmerman works the count full and K’s swinging through a two-strike fastball. Adam Dunn doesn’t get anything to hit, walking in front of Nick Johnson. Johnson grounds to second, Kelly Johnson to Yunel Escobar to Kotchman, double play...”Wild” Joel Hanrahan’s on to get some work. Casey Kotchman flies out to Milledge in center. Jordan Schafer rips a double to right, and looks like he is ready for this. Hanrahan gets a swinging K out of Greg Norton. Hanrahan drills Kelly Johnson in the ribs. Yunel Escobar sneaks a grounder by Willie Harris at second, Schafer scores from second. 5-3 Braves. 

 

Mike Gonzalez on to close it. Austin Kearns grounds a full count fastball to short for the first out. Jesus Flores K’s swinging over a bender. Josh Willingham gets punched out by the first base ump on a check swing K to end it. Braves win. 5-3 Final. 

 

Nationals now 0-5.