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Braves 5-2 Over Nationals To Avoid Sweep In Nats Park

The Washington Nationals had a chance to sweep the Atlanta Braves in the nation's capital for the first time since 2008, but after taking a 2-0 lead, the Nats dropped a 5-2 decision to the NL East's first place team. Washington did, however, take two of three from the Braves in D.C.

Greg Fiume

The Washington Nationals, as a team, entered the finale of their three-game set with Atlanta with a .236/.304/.367 line against left-handed pitchers on the year, good for 12th of 15 in AVG, 12th in OBP and 14th of 15 in SLG in the National League after 151 games. Their .278 BABIP vs LHPs was the 3rd lowest in the NL. Since August 1st, however, the Nationals, who were 29-14 overall over that stretch, were, as the Nats' pregame notes pointed out, 10-4 in games in which opposing teams started lefties. Atlanta started 22-year-old left-hander Alex Wood tonight, a 2012 2nd Round pick out of the University of Georgia whose one start against the Nationals in his rookie campaign came in a 3-2 Braves' win on August 16th in the nation's capital in which he gave up five hits and a run in 6 1/3 IP in which he struck out nine batters.

Wood took the mound in Nationals Park tonight after right-hander Ross Ohlendorf threw an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the first and gave up back-to-back two-out hits by Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper before getting Ian Desmond to fly out to center to end a five-pitch at bat and a 23-pitch bottom of the inning. Ohlendorf was up to 26 pitches total after a 15-pitch top of the second in the nation's capital in which he retired the Braves in order. Nats' second baseman Anthony Rendon went back up the middle with a low liner to center for a two-out single in the Nationals' second, but he was stranded when Wood struck Ohlendorf out with an 0-2 change to end a 19-pitch inning at 42 pitches overall.

Dan Uggla grounded weakly to Adam LaRoche for the seventh straight out recorded by Ross Ohlendorf to start the game. Jordan Schafer chased a 2-2 fastball up high. Alex Wood took a letter-high, 94 mph 2-2 fastball for a called strike three. 11-pitch third, 37 after three scoreless by Ohlendorf. Nine up, nine down for the Nationals' starter.

Jayson Werth was 2 for 2 tonight with a line drive to right and one to center, both of them with two outs. Bryce Harper K'd swinging at a 2-2 change in the at bat that followed and it was still 0-0 after three in Washington, D.C.

Justin Upton lined to center with one down in the Braves' fourth for the first hit off Ross Ohlendorf tonight in 3 1/3 IP in Nationals Park, but Upton was doubled up when Freddie Freeman lined out to his counterpart and Adam LaRoche quickly stepped on first base for the unassisted inning-ending DP. 0-0. 11 of 12 retired for Ohlendorf in four scoreless innings. 50 pitches total after a 13-pitch inning. LaRoche lined to center with one down in the home-half of the frame, but he was doubled up too when Wilson Ramos sent a sharp grounder to Elliot Johnson at short, who started an inning-ending 6-4-3. 61 pitches for Wood.

Ohlendorf retired the Braves in order in the fifth, striking Chris Johnson out with a 1-2 slider in the dirt to end a seven pitch fifth inning that had him at 57 pitches overall. Still 0-0.

Anthony Rendon entered tonight's game with a .261/.330/.446 vs LHP and he was 2 for 2 tonight and 4 for 4 vs Alex Wood in each of their rookie campaigns after singling to center on a full-count change in a 10-pitch at bat that led off the Nats' fifth. Rendon took second when Ross Ohlendorf bunted him over/gave up an out and third when Freddie Freeman misplayed a grounder to first by Denard Span. Freeman's E:3 put runners on first and third with one out. Wood's one-out walk of Ryan Zimmerman loaded the bases in front of Jayson Werth and Werth was 2 for 2 with a walk when he took a 3-2 fastball from Wood up high for what home plate ump CB Bucknor called ball four. 1-0 Nats. Alex Wood exploded on Bucknor. Fredi Gonzalez got between the ump and his pitcher and got himself tossed, and the sac fly to center by Bryce Harper that followed made it 2-0 Nats and ended Wood's night. But not before he unloaded an expletive-filled rant on Bucknor as he walked off.

Dan Uggla cut the Nats' lead in half with a solo home run to left on a first-pitch fastball from Ross Ohlendorf in the first at bat of the sixth. 2-1. Jordan Schafer tried to bunt his way on in the next AB and ended up on third after Ohlendorf shoveled a "throw" to first that sailed right over Adam LaRoche's head and rolled into foul territory down the line in right. Ohlendorf got a check-swing strike three out of pinch hitter Joey Terdaslovich with a 2-2 slider after the Braves' rookie hit a foul ball just to the right of the pole in right in field. Elliot Johnson popped to third for out no.2, but Ohlendorf left a first-pitch slider up for Justin Upton and Upton's two-out, two-run home run landed in the Red Porch seats in left field. 3-2 Braves after five and a half.

Anthony Rendon took a 1-0 fastball from Braves' righty Anthony Varvaro in the ribs for a two-out HBP in the Nats' sixth. C.B. Bucknor issued warnings to both sides for some reason. Corey Brown K'd looking to end the sixth. 3-2 Atlanta.

Evan Gattis singled through short off Craig Stammen to start the seventh, and his pinch runner, Andrelton Simmons, then scored on a Brian McCann double to center that bounced off the out-of-town scoreboard in spite of a leaping attempt by Denard Span. 4-2 Braves. CB Bucknor showed admirable restraint in not tossing Stammen when he hit Chris Johnson with a fastball inside. Stammen got Dan Uggla looking for out no.2. Both runners moved up on Jordan Schafer's swinging bunt, but they were both stranded in scoring position when B.J. Upton K'd swinging to end the Braves' seventh.

Denard Span was 1 for 4 tonight after he extended his hit streak to 29 games with a single to center on a 3-1 fastball from former Nats, current Braves' reliever Luis Ayala. Span was forced out at second on grounder to short by Ryan Zimmerman, but Jayson Werth walked with one down to put runners on first and second for Bryce Harper. Scott Downs came out of the Braves' pen to face Bryce Harper, who grounded out to second, but moved both runners up. David Carpenter came out of the pen to face Ian Desmond, whose fly to right ended the seventh. Still 4-2 Braves.

Ryan Mattheus retired the Braves in order in a 13-pitch top of the eighth. David Carpenter needed 13 pitches to retire the Nationals in order in the bottom of the inning. Mattheus came back out for the ninth and gave up a one-out walk to Brian McCann and a single by Chris Johnson. Uggla's groundout to first moved both runners up. Xavier Cedeno got a line drive to second out of Jordan Schafer, but Anthony Rendon made a leaping attempt and had it bounce in and out of his glove. McCann scored on the "hit", 5-2 Braves after eight and a half.

Craig Kimbrel came on in the ninth Steve Lombardozzi grounded out to second. Denard Span K'd swinging at a pitch in the dirt. Ryan Zimmerman grounded out to short. Ballgame. 5-2 Braves.

Nationals now 81-71