Gio Gonzalez gave up two in the first and one each in the second and third innings as the Atlanta Braves jumped out to a 4-1 lead early in the second of three in Washington, D.C, but a big five-run bottom of third that featured a grand slam by Anthony Rendon and a solo shot by Ryan Zimmerman put the Nationals ahead, 6-4.
Gonzalez didn’t last long after that, however, giving up back-to-back hits in the top of the fourth as the Braves rallied to tie it back up, 6-6.
It was still tied at 6-6 in the Nationals’ half of the eighth when back-to-back walks by Braves’ righty Jose Ramirez put two on and a throwing error by Tyler Flowers opened the flood gates. One run scored on the E, and two more came in on an RBI single by Trea Turner, 9-6 Nationals.
It ended up a 9-7 win for the Nationals when Mark Melancon gave up a run in the ninth.
Here’s how it happened:
Two batters in the Braves were up 1-0 after Ender Inciarte extended his hit streak to 17-straight with a leadoff single before scoring on an RBI double to the right-center field gap by Adonis Garcia, as the visitors jumped on Nationals’ lefty Gio Gonzalez early.
Garcia took third on a groundout by Freddie Freeman and scored on a groundout by Matt Kemp, 2-0 after the top of the first.
Dansby Swanson hit a fly to deep center in the second inning that Trea Turner tracked to the wall, but couldn’t reach, and it bounced away from the rookie outfielder, as the Braves’ rookie shortstop sped around the bases, beating the throw in for an inside-the-park home run and a 3-0 Braves’ lead.
Gio Gonzalez helped his own cause with a two-out RBI single to center in the Nationals’ half of the the third, driving Anthony Rendon in two outs after he’d reached on a hit by pitch and moved up on a single by Danny Espinosa, 3-1.
Three straight singles in the fourth led to the Braves’ fourth run of the game coming in on an RBI single by Freddie Freeman, 4-1.
Three straight singles in the home-half of the third loaded the bases with no one out, however, and Anthony Rendon cleared them with the first grand slam of his career on an 0-2 sinker knee-high inside that he absolutely crushed. 5-4 Nationals. Rendon’s 17th.
Ryan Zimmerman followed one out later with a solo shot to right that cleared the out-of-town scoreboard and knocked Williams Perez out of the game. Zim’s 14th, 6-4 Nats.
Gonzalez was lifted at 85 pitches in the fourth after giving up a leadoff single and a double in the Braves’ half of the fourth. Both of those runners scored as the Braves tied it right back up, 6-6.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 3.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 85 P, 54 S, 3/1 GO/FO.
It was still tied at 6-6 in the home-half of the eighth when Braves’ right-hander Jose Ramirez walked the first two batters of the inning.
Ben Revere tried to bunt them over, only to have Braves’ catcher Tyler Flowers make an ill-advised, off-balance throw toward third that sailed into left, allowing pinch runner Michael A. Taylor to score, 7-6.
Danny Espinosa, who took the second walk, and Revere both scored on an RBI single to center by Trea Turner that put the Nationals ahead, 9-6.
Mark Melancon came on for the save opportunity and gave up a leadoff double and a one-out RBI single that made it 9-7 Nationals. That’s how it ended. Ballgame.
Nationals now 81-57
- Washington’s 80-57 record after last night’s win was the second-best in the NATIONAL LEAGUE, behind only the Chicago Cubs (89-48).
- The Nationals’ +140 run differential after last night is the second-best in the NL as well, behind only, again, the Cubs (+229).
- With yesterday’s loss, Atlanta is 2-12 against Washington this season, and the Braves have lost 16 of its last 17 and 21 of the last 23 in Nationals Park.
- Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman was named the NL Player of the Week after he went 8 for 20 in six games last week.
- Freeman has a 12-game hit streak after going 2 for 5 yesterday. Ender Inciarte was 2 for 5 as well, extending his own on-base streak to 16-straight games.
- Inciarte has reached base in 44 of his last 45 games, and he’s 73 for 198 (.369 AVG) with a .422 OBP since the All-Star break.
- The Braves, as a team, had a .237 AVG at the All-Star break, but in 49 games since, Atlanta has a .271 AVG, the fifth-highest average in the majors and third-highest in the National League.
- The Nationals, as a team, have scored more first-inning runs than any team in baseball (107), ahead of the Boston Red Sox (100) and Toronto Blue Jays (97).
- Tonight’s starter for the Braves, Williams Perez, earned his only career win against Washington with six scoreless innings against the Nationals in his final start last season.
- Daniel Murphy starts the night leading the NL in SLG (.593), OPS (.976), doubles (tied, 38) and multi-hit games (51).
Nationals now 81-57