Washington took the first three games with the Braves in Atlanta, GA’s Turner Field this weekend, but the Nationals’ NL East rivals made two of the first three interesting late.
The Braves battled back to make the Nationals sweat in the second and third games, then came all the way back in Sunday’s finale to avoid being swept at home.
After Saturday night’s 11-9 win, Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker told reporters he was impressed by the Braves’ tenacity.
“You’ve got to give those guys credit over there,” Baker said, “they don’t quit and they keep fighting and fighting. Boy, I don’t know, I’m just glad we won the game, big time.
“But like I said, you’ve got to give those guys credit, because most teams, if they were where they are right now, then you get up on them, especially this time of the year, their spirit would be broken. But they’ve got a lot of spirit over there.”
Thursday’s series opener was a 3-2 game until the Nationals blew it open with a five-run eighth in what ended up an 8-2 win.
A three-run rally by the Braves in the eighth on Friday night tied things up at 6-6 before the Nats scored the go-ahead run in a 7-6 win.
On Saturday, Atlanta scored six runs over the last three innings in what ended up an 11-9 loss.
Baker pointed to the runs his team scored in an eight-run fourth and the insurance runs they added in the seventh and ninth innings when he talked about the win.
“You’ve got to keep playing,” the former major leaguer-turner-manager explained.
“You never know which run is going to be the run that is going to be the deciding run.
“I mean, those guys, they had the tying run at the plate with a guy that can hit the ball out of the ballpark, so it just shows us that you’ve got to keep playing.”
The Nationals took a six-run lead into the eighth in the series finale, but the Braves rallied once again.
This time the Braves completed the comeback, scoring two in the eighth to tie the game up at 6-6 before they won it on a walk-off home run by Jace Peterson in the bottom of the tenth.
“We didn’t play a good game at all,” Baker said.
“We played a sloppy game and we’d have been lucky to win that game with five errors.
“The game is not meant to be played 32 outs to 27 outs. We still had action on winning that game.”
Losing when they did, however, he added, may have been a blessing in disguise.
”You hate to lose,” Baker said, “but we didn’t have any more pitching after that and our pitching was dragging as it was and so you hope — I know it’s going to be hard to take, but sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise because that could have wrecked us for the next week.”
The plan if the game had gone on?
“There wasn’t much of a plan,” Baker admitted. His bullpen is spent. A number of his relievers had gone multiple days.
“Everybody in our bullpen has pitched. Like I said, if we had gone any further, we really would have been in harm’s way with our bullpen.
“I’m just glad we get to get in to Baltimore at a decent hour and get some sleep because we’ve got another tough four days, two in Baltimore and two back home.”
Do the Nationals need help in the bullpen? They start a four-game home and home set with the Orioles tonight in Camden Yards.
“Everybody is like, ‘Hey, man, you’re going to get some help,’ you know, but where are you going to get the help from? That’s easier said then done.”
Baker said he hopes that his relievers are ready to go on Monday, and the sloppy play is behind the Nationals.
“I’m hoping that we got it our of system. We won three out of four here, but we did not play good baseball here.
“We’ve got to feel fortunate that we won three out of four even though we weren’t playing good baseball.”