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Washington Nationals’ bullpen falters again in 7-4 loss to Atlanta Braves in SunTrust...

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Shawn Kelley worked his way out of a tough seventh, but Enny Romero ran into trouble in the eighth as the Nationals’ bullpen faltered again in a 7-4 loss to the Braves.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Washington was trying avoid a third straight loss, but a tough outing for Enny Romero in the eighth broke it open for the Atlanta Braves, who took the series opener, 7-4.

The Nationals’ first three runs came in on misplays by the Braves, with Dansby Swanson missing a chopper up the middle with a runner on second base, and a Jace Peterson E:3 allowing two runs to score on a grounder to first by Bryce Harper in the third.

Daniel Murphy hit his eighth home run of the season, and second in two days, off R.A. Dickey in the top of the fourth, 4-3, but the Braves rallied to tie it on an RBI double by Kurt Suzuki in the fifth.

It stayed tied at 4-4 until the eighth when Brandon Phillips walked with one down, stole second, and scored on a Nick Markakis single to right off Enny Romero, 5-4.

Kurt Suzuki followed with a two-run home run that made it a 7-4 game.

Nationals now 25-16

HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:

Opposing hitters were 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position and two outs versus Gio Gonzalez in 2017 before tonight’s matchup. Braves’ catcher Kurt Suzuki’s two-on, two-out groundout to third in the first left opposing hitters 0 for 17 vs Gonzalez this season.

Johan Camargo singled to right to start the Braves’ second, and one out later, Dansby Swanson hit a first-pitch fastball from Gonzalez to left-center for a two-run blast that made it 2-0 Atlanta.

Michael A. Taylor doubled on a fly to center field that bounced off the outfield fence, and he scored one out later on a chopper up the middle by Trea Turner that got under Dansby Swanson’s barehanded attempt, 2-1 Braves.

Jayson Werth worked a two-out walk out of R.A. Dickey, and Bryce Harper stepped in next and sent a grounder to first that got by Jace Peterson. E:3 on Peterson. Turner and Werth scored on the play and the Nationals went up, 3-2, in a 33-pitch frame by Dickey.

The Nationals’ lead didn’t last long. Matt Kemp hit a 1-0 fastball from Gonzalez out to center with one down in the Braves’ half of the third inning to tie it up at 3-3. Kemp’s 7th of 2017.

Daniel Murphy fell behind 0-2 in the first at bat of the Nationals’ fourth and hit a 79 mph knuckler from Dickey out to center for his 8th home run of 2017. 4-3 Nationals.

Anthony Rendon worked a 14-pitch walk out of R.A. Dickey with two on and two out in the fifth. He was stranded, but whatever.

Kurt Suzuki stepped in with two on and one out in the fifth and hit a 3-2 fastball to right-center for an RBI double that drove Nick Markakis in from second to tie it up at 4-4.

• R.A. Dickey’s Line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 115 P, 79 S, 8/1 GO/FO.

• Dansby Swanson doubled to start the Braves’ half of the sixth, taking Gio Gonzalez’s 102nd pitch to left field, but he was thrown out one out later, trying to score on a line drive to center by Ender Inciarte. Michael A. Taylor charged the liner and his throw to home beat Swanson to the plate.

• Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 5.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 116 P, 72 S, 7/1 GO/FO.

Matt Grace took over for Gonzalez with Ender Inciarte at second with two out, and retired Nick Markakis to keep it tied after six.

Shawn Kelley gave up a leadoff single and back-to-back, two-out walks in the Braves’ seventh, loading the bases in front of pinch hitter Rio Ruiz, who went down swinging to end a 31-pitch frame.

Enny Romero walked Brandon Phillips with one down in the eighth. Phillips promptly stole second and scored on an RBI single to right field by Nick Markakis, who battled Romero for eight pitches before connecting on a 97 mph fastball, 5-4.

Kurt Suzuki followed with a two-run home run on a 1-1 cutter, putting the Braves up by three, 7-4. Suzuki’s 3rd of 2017.

NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:

  • Washington starts the weekend with a 119-105 advantage in the all-time series with the Atlanta Braves, after going 15-4 against their NL East rivals last season.
  • Washington swept the first series of the season in Atlanta back on April 18-20th.
  • The Nationals start the weekend 25-15, with the best record in the NL and the third-best record in the majors.
  • Washington’s offense starts the night leading the majors in runs scored (237), AVG (.278), SLG (.481), hits (393), and RBIs (231).
  • In today’s Nationals-themed “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: Jayson Werth has a .355/.481/.548 line... over the last 17 games.
  • Nick Markakis has reached base in 33 of 38 games this season and 19 of his last 21 games, over which he’s 29 for 82 (.354 AVG).
  • Bryce Harper starts the night leading the majors in OBP (.479) and runs scored (42), and he’s ranked second in OPS (1.209), and RBIs (tied, 36).
  • Freddie Freeman, who has a .330/.399/.520 career line against the Nationals, suffered a non-displaced left wrist fracture that will cost him up to 10 weeks on the DL.
  • Ryan Zimmerman started the night leading the majors in SLG (.766), RBIs (38), multi-hit games (18), total bases (108) and extra base hits (29).

Nationals now 25-16