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Washington Nationals’ lineup for 2nd of 4 with Atlanta Braves + Freddie Freeman on big series in D.C.

With last night’s loss, the Washington Nationals are now 5-5 against the Atlanta Braves this season with an 8.5-game lead over their divisional rivals in the NL East.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Freddie Freeman missed 44 games with a broken left wrist, the result of a hit-by-pitch, but three games back off the DL, the 27-year-old Atlanta Braves’ first baseman was in Washington, D.C., once again pounding Nationals’ pitching. Freeman went 2 for 6 with two doubles, a run scored and two driven in to help lift the National League East’s second place team to their fifth win in ten games against the division-leading Nats in 2017.

It was all the more sweet for Freeman, who collected his 1,000 career hit, because the Braves won on a night that saw the start of the game delayed for three-plus hours, and it came against the team directly on top of them in the NL East.

Asked about having to wait until 10:10 to start the game and what he thought of the decision-making in delaying it, Freeman said it was, “... all worth it in the end when you get the win.”

In the clubhouse he said, the Braves were thinking the same things everyone else was thinking as they waited out the delay.

“We were just wondering what was going on and why we weren’t playing,” Freeman told reporters, “but better late than never.

“I don’t think anybody likes playing doubleheaders, so to get this one in and get the win just makes it that much sweeter for what they did.”

Freeman, who ended the night with 125 hits in 378 career at bats against the Nats, (.331/.399/.524, with 32 doubles and 16 HRs in 431 PAs), with a .327/.405/.480 line, 18 doubles and four home runs in 54 games in Nationals Park, also talked about just how big a series this is with the current division leaders and defending NL East champs.

“I think everybody in this clubhouse knows going into the All-Star Break we can close the gap here,” Freeman said, “so coming into this 9.5 games back, now we’re 8.5 and three more to go.

“We’ve got tough matchups, but this was a big series, it was circled for me to get back for this series, so to get off to a good start like we did tonight was big.”

Tonight, Freeman and the Braves will have to take on Max Scherzer and the Nationals in the second of four in D.C.