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Washington Nationals 11-9 over Atlanta Braves for third straight, 5-0 in Turner Field in 2016

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Ryan Zimmerman homered on the first pitch he saw off the DL and Nationals’ starter Max Scherzer struggled early, but settled in nicely in what ended up an 11-9 win over the Braves.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Though he lasted only four innings last time out, in his shortest start of the season, Washington Nationals’ starter Max Scherzer had been on an impressive run heading into that outing in Denver, Colorado’s Coors Field.

In 14 starts since June 1st, the 32-year-old right-hander was (7-3) with a 2.10 ERA and a .175/.222/.313 line against in 94 ⅓ IP, walking 19 and striking out 121 over that stretch, which led up to tonight’s outing.

He hadn’t lost back-to-back starts since August of 2015.

Tonight, in Atlanta, Georgia’s Turner Field, Scherzer struggled early against the Braves, giving up three doubles and three runs in the second, but an eight-run fourth knocked the opposing pitcher, Tyrell Jenkins, out of the game and gave the Nationals a 9-3 lead in what ended up a 11-9 win for Scherzer and the Nats.

Here’s how it happened:

Ryan Zimmerman homered in the first at bat of his rehab stint with the AAA Syracuse Chiefs and took the first pitch he saw tonight for a ride, sending a solo blast to left on a line for a 1-0 lead early in Atlanta. Zimmerman’s 13th.

Tyler Flowers doubled to start the Braves’ half of the second, bouncing a 95 mph 2-2 fastball off the base of the wall in center, moved up to third on a single to left-center by Jace Peterson and scored on a grounder to short off Chase D’Arnaud’s bat to tie it up at 1-1 after two.

Ender Inciarte hit the second double of the second to left field and into the stands on a bounce, holding D’Arnaud at third, but both runners scored on the third two-base hit of the frame, a two-out, two-run double to left by Adonis Garcia on a slider up and out over the plate, that made it 3-1 Braves.

Daniel Murphy made it a one-run game with a solo shot to right on a first-pitch fastball from Braves’ righty Tyrell Jenkins in the first at bat of the fourth. Murphy’s 23rd of the season made it a 3-2 game in the Braves’ favor.

Bryce Harper walked with one down in the fourth, stole his 16th base to put himself in scoring position and came around one out later on an RBI line drive to left by Anthony Rendon, 3-3.

Rendon took second on the throw in, third on a Zimmerman single and scored on a single to left by Wilmer Difo, 4-3.

Max Scherzer stepped in with runners on first and second and one out and feigned a bunt before pulling back and lining an RBI single to right for a 5-3 lead which was an 8-3 lead one at bat later when Trea Turner hit a three-run home run to left and over the 380ft sign for his fourth and an 8-3 lead. That was it for Jenkins... another run scored when Bryce Harper singled for the eighth-straight hit of the frame. 9-3 after three and a half.

Scherzer settled in nicely, holding the Braves off the board after the third and finishing six innings on 96 pitches. He was 2 for 4 at the plate too, after he sent a chopper over the mound and beat the throw to first, driving in his second run of the game, 10-3.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 101 P, 69 S, 7/0 GO/FO.

Blake Treinen threw a wild pitch by Wilson Ramos that allowed the Braves’ fourth run of the game to score after he took over on the mound for Scherzer following a one-out double to right by Ender Inciarte, 10-4 Nationals.

Two singles around an error loaded the bases for the Braves with Nats’ right-hander Matt Belisle on the mound in the bottom of the eighth inning, and an RBI single to right by Jeff Francoeur made it a 10-5 game.

A misplay on a potential double play allowed another run to score after Shawn Kelley took over on the mound, but a charging play and strong throw on a swinging bunt to Rendon ended the threat. 10-6 Nationals.

Rendon doubled to start the ninth (4 for 5 tonight), moved up on a passed ball and scored on a sac fly by Zimmerman, 11-6.

Koda Glover took the mound in the ninth and gave up a leadoff single by Freddie Freeman, a two-out walk and an RBI single, 11-7.

Mark Melancon came on to get out No. 3... but gave up a two-run single by Chase D’Arnaud, 11-9, before he closed the door.

Ballgame. Nationals win third straight, improve to 5-0 in Turner Field in 2016.

Nationals now 73-49

NATS NOTES:

  • With last night’s loss, Atlanta fell to 1-10 against Washington this season, and the Braves fell to 0-4 against the Nationals in Turner Field.
  • Washington’s 72-49 record on the year after last night’s win was the second-best in the majors heading into tonight’s game, behind only the Chicago Cubs’ 77-44 record.
  • The Nationals’ +144 run differential was the second-base in the majors as well, behind, again, the Cubs (+208).
  • After dropping the first two games of the four-game set with the Nationals, the Braves had lost six straight overall going into tonight’s matchup and eight of their last nine.
  • Atlanta’s hitters have connected for 56 home runs in their last 57 games, after hitting 27 total in the first 64.
  • In today’s Braves-themed “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: Freddie Freeman is 86 for 261 (.314 AVG) with 45 extra base hits... since June 1st.
  • Ender Inciarte had a 27-game on-base streak snapped last night, while Jayson Werth had his 46-game on-base streak snapped.
  • For Werth, it was the first time since June 19th that he didn’t reach base. He collected 43 hits and 32 walks and posted a .382 OBP over the course of his 46-game on-base streak.
  • In today’s Nationals-themed “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: Anthony Rendon is 33 for 105 (.314 AVG) with 11 doubles, six home runs, 11 walks, three steals and 17 runs scored ... in 155 plate appearances since July 16th
  • Daniel Murphy returned to the lineup after a night off last night leading the NL in AVG (.344), SLG (.604), OPS (.990), multi-hit games (tied, 46).

Nationals now 73-49