The two solo HR's Craig Stammen surrendered to Garret Anderson and Adam LaRoche in the second inning of tonight's game accounted for the two runs and two of the four hits that the Nationals' right-handed starter would allow in his 6.0 innings of work, and after he exited the game with a 1-2-3 sixth, Washington tied Atlanta at 2-2, when Elijah Dukes doubled and scored on Ronnie Belliard's single. Stammen retired 18 of the 23 batters he faced, with 3 K's, 7 ground outs and 8 fly balls, and outside of the two HR's, he allowed just 2 doubles, in the first and fourth, both of which were left on base, and a two-out walk in the fourth that caused no harm.
Jorge Sosa took over for Stammen in the seventh, and after retiring Yunel Escobar, who hit a grounder back to the mound, Sosa started Adam LaRoche with a 95 mph fastball and a slider outside, followed by one off the plate that he wasted and then...one that just hangs there... up and out over the plate and GONE. Adam LaRoche does it again and this time he wins it. The Braves go up 3-2, and then put three runs up on Sean Burnett in the eighth to distance themselves and earn their second-straight win over the Nationals, who came into Atlanta the winners of eight-straight...Derek Lowe, (W, 12-7) throws 101 pitches to 28 DC batters, gives up 7 hits, 2 ER, 4 walks and the lead, before LaRoche's 2nd blast gives Lowe the "W"...
Braves win, 5-2 final.
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• Slow Down
• Riggleman's Gut - 1 for 2.
For The Completists, Full Game Report After The JUMP...
Nationals now 40-74. (Countdown To 100 Losses Now At...26.)
• Slow Down
Where are you going, Nyjer Morgan? You stole second base last night and then got thrown out trying for third. Uh, even though, uh, you were safe and the Ump blew the call...And then tonight you were caught stealing again by Braves' backstop Brian McCann after singling and trying for second in the top of the first...Uh, even though upon further review...you were safe...and the, uh, same Ump LARRY VANOVER BLEW HIS SECOND CALL IN TWO GAMES...So...Well, I guess what I'm saying is, your 38 steals are good for 4th in the Majors, but your 17 CS's are a runaway leader. I know the idea is that if you're a true base stealer you can swipe them when everyone in the park knows you're looking to, but if you go every time you're on base?...But, I'll stop myself, cause really, who am I to tell you about stealing bases, but...Seriously? What were you thinking in the ninth? Caught off first by the catcher for the final out of the game when the team's down by four and there's a runner on second in front of you? Where were you going, Nyjer Morgan? Uh, wait...Nope. Checked the replay just in case...You were not safe sliding back into first, the Ump (NOT LARRY VANOVER) got it right this time...and that's a horrible way to end a game.
• Riggleman's Gut - 1 for 2.
I bring this up only because two Braves fans mentioned it simultaneously during last night's game. In the bottom of the seventh, after Jorge Sosa had surrendered the go-ahead HR to LaRoche, and walked Matt Diaz with one down, DC skipper Jim Riggleman responded to ATL Manager Bobby Cox's decision to send left-handed hitting Kelly Johnson to the plate by bringing on Nationals' left-hander Sean Burnett, prompting a Braves fan visiting in the game thread and my brother, a Braves fan, who was watching the game a few feet from me to both ask, "Are they bringing on a lefty to face Kelly Johnson?" Why? I asked. "Check his splits...":
'09 Kelly Johnson - vs RHP - 35 for 185, .189 AVG, 12 2B, 4 HR's, 14 RBI's, .279 OBP, .330 SLG.
vs LHP - 24 for 75, .320 AVG, 5 2B, 4 HR's, 12 RBI's, .358 OBP, .600 SLG.
Johnson just laid down a sac bunt, and after Johnson, Ryan Church, who's hitting just .215 against LHP flew out to end the Braves' seventh, so Jim Riggleman's decision outwitted the numbers. The Nationals trailed by just one run at 3-2 after coming up empty in the top of the eighth, and Sean Burnett came back out for the bottom of the frame..."Against Martin Prado?" my brother asked. "It worked out last time," I shot back. "Check the stats," my brother taunted:
'09 Martin Prado - vs RHP - 54 for 181, .298 AVG, 11 2B, 3 HR, 22 RBI's, .316 OBP, .409 SLG.
vs LHP - 36 for 110, .327 AVG, 12 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI's, .431 OBP, .545 SLG.
Martin Prado starts the Braves' eighth with a solo HR to left that leaves no doubt from the moment bat hits ball. The Braves take a 4-2 lead on Prado's 8th HR of '09, and Burnett implodes, allowing a single by Chipper Jones, a double by Brian McCann, an intentional walk to Yunel Escobar to load the bases and an unintentional walk to force in a run before he's lifted with the Nationals down 5-2 and effectively done for the evening...Riggleman's gut goes 1 for 2.
Washington Nationals At Atlanta Braves. Game 114 Of 162.
Nyjer Morgan drops a bunt in front of the mound and Braves’ right-hander Derek Lowe can’t pick it up. Morgan tries for second and gets caught stealing, sort of (he was safe). Cristian Guzman works a rare walk. Ryan Zimmerman chops down on a sinker and singles through short. Adam Dunn takes a 2-1 fastball deep enough to right on a line drive single that Guzman scores from second. 1-0 DC. Josh Willingham grounds to third, Chipper Jones to Martin Prado to Adam LaRoche, double play...Washington righty Craig Stammen starts the bottom of the frame with a fly ball out to Josh Willingham in left. Martin Prado doubles to right on a high 2-2 fastball. Craig Stammen drops a full-count sinker off the outside edge to get Chipper Jones chasing. Brian McCann rips a low liner to right and Elijah Dukes makes the grab an inch above the grass.
Elijah Dukes pops out to Martin Prado on the first pitch of the second. Josh Bard shoots a grounder to Yunel Escobar at short for out No.2. Ronnie Belliard takes a full-count sinker outside for ball four. Lowe gets Stammen swinging to end the top of the second...Craig Stammen puts a sinking fastball on the inside corner, Garret Anderson puts it two rows deep in right, 1-1 game on Anderson’s HR. Yunel Escobar lines out to Nyjer Morgan in center. Adam LaRoche gets a hold of a two-strike curve that doesn’t get down. 2-1 Braves on the HR to right center. Craig Stammen gets Lowe looking at a two-strike curve up high.
Yunel Escobar shows off his arm, gunning Nyjer Morgan on a hard hit grounder. Cristian Guzman slaps a single through short to extend his hit streak to seventeen games. Ryan Zimmerman makes it easy for Escobar, the toss to Prado, the throw to first, double play to end the Nationals’ third...Ryan Church flies out to Elijah Dukes, who makes a sprinting snowcone grab in right center. Martin Prado grounds out to Ronnie Belliard at second. Chipper Jones grounds to second to end the third.
Adam Dunn K’s swinging through a two-strike slider outside. Josh Willingham lifts a sinking fastball from Lowe to Ryan Church in center. Elijah Dukes reaches the track, but Church gets there...Brian McCann grounds back to the mound for the first out of the frame. Garret Anderson smokes a one-hop liner by Dunn at first and beats Dukes’ throw to second. Stammen walks Yunel Escobar to put two on for Adam LaRoche. LaRoche pops out to Adam Dunn foul of first. Matt Diaz grounds to third, Zimmerman fields and steps on the bag for the force.
Josh Bard bounces the first out to second. Ronnie Belliard takes a 91 mph two-strike fastball outside for a called strike three. Craig Stammen K’s swinging to end the Nationals’ fifth...Ryan Zimmerman dives and stabs a sharp grounder to his backhand, stands and throws to first to get Lowe. Ryan Church grounds to first, Adam Dunn tosses to Stammen covering. Martin Prado flies to right, Dukes catches it coming in.
Nyjer Morgan slaps a single through short to start the Nationals’ sixth. Cristian Guzman erases the single, grounding to Chipper to Prado to LaRoche, double play. Ryan Zimmerman pops out to right to end the DC sixth...Chipper Jones grounds weakly to left for Willingham to handle. Cristian Guzman is at second in the shift and he throws out Brian McCann on a grounder. Garret Anderson flies to deeep center, but Nyjer Morgan is there to make the catch at the wall.
Adam Dunn grounds to second to start the seventh, Martin Prado makes the play. Josh Willingham K’s swinging through a two-strike heater. Elijah Dukes bounces a double off the wall on a high fly to right center. Josh Bard takes four straight for a two-out walk. Ronnie Belliard singles through short, and Dukes comes around to score, beating the throw in spite of stumbling around third. 2-2 game. Willie Harris walks to load the bases. Nyjer Morgan grounds out to first to end the threat. Tied at 2-2 after six and a half...Jorge Sosa takes over for the Nationals. Yunel Escobar grounds back to the mound. Adam LaRoche gets an 85 mph slider up and outside that ends up deeep in the stands in left, 3-2 Braves. Jorge Sosa walks Matt Diaz, and Kelly Johnson will see a new pitcher. Sean Burnett fields a weak grounder and gets Johnson at first. Ryan Church flies to center, but Nyjer Morgan’s there.
Cristian Guzman’s going up against Peter Moylan in the eighth. Guzman flies out to left. Ryan Zimmerman walks in front of Dunn. Dunn rips a 3-1 pitch to center for a single. Josh Willingham flies out to Matt Diaz in right. Elijah Dukes K’s swinging over a sweeping slider...Sean Burnett’s back out. Martin Prado pulls a fastball up high to left and GONE!! Out in a hurry, 4-2 Braves. Chipper Jones singles up the middle. Brian McCann goes the other way with a line drive over Willingham’s head and off the wall. Chipper to third on the double. Garret Anderson works the count full and flies out to center. Chipper stays at third. Yunel Escobar gets the intentionals. Adam LaRoche walks to force in a run. 5-2 Braves. Jason Bergmann takes over for Burnett. Matt Diaz takes a low strike three, that isn’t a strike. Pinch hitter Greg Norton takes another walk to force in a run. 6-2 Braves. Ron Villone gets a pop out to short from Church to end the eighth.
Mike Gonzalez on to end it. Josh Bard almost kills Mike Gonzalez with a liner back at this head that Gonzalez somehow catches. Ronnie Belliard goes back up the middle with a one-out single. Jorge Padilla never saw a slider like that in Syracuse, swinging K. Nyjer Morgan works a two-out walk. Cristian Guzman up, and Brian McCann catches and nails Nyjer Morgan too far off first...Oh my...that’s bad...Braves win, 6-2 final.
Nationals now 40-74.