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Washington Nationals 10-5 over Atlanta Braves, enter Break 52-36, up 9.5 games in NL East...

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Washington enters the All-Star Break 52-36 after earning a split of their four-game, first-half-ending series with the Atlanta Braves with a 10-5 win today in Nationals Park.

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Washington Nationals’ starter Joe Ross didn’t make it out of the fourth this afternoon, after he gave up a game-tying, three-run home run in the third, walking two batters in front of Freddie Freeman, which is never a good idea, and giving up a three-run homer by the notorious Nats-killer.

It was concern about his velocity dropping that led to Ross’s early exit, however, so it should be interesting to hear what Dusty Baker says about the decision to lift Ross in his post-game presser...

Meanwhile, back on the field of play, Chris Heisey doubled to left field to drive in a run after Braves’ rookie Sean Newcomb walked Anthony Rendon and Matt Wieters to start the Nationals’ half of the fourth, 4-3, and Wieters drove in two runs with a single in the fifth, 6-3.

Matt Grace gave up a solo shot in the sixth, and an error by Bryce Harper put Freeman on third before he scored on a groundout, 6-5, but the Nats picked up an insurance run in the seventh with Anthony Rendon walking with one out, stealing second base, taking third on a throwing error, and scoring on a sac fly, 7-5.

Enny Romero was throwing heat as he locked down the eighth, Bryce Harper drove in a run in the bottom of the inning, 8-5, and Daniel Murphy drove in two more, 10-5. That’s how it ended...

Nationals now 52-36

HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:

Braves’ left-hander Sean Newcomb, a 24-year-old, 2015 1st Round pick, acquired from the LA Angels in the Andrelton Simmons trade, took the mound this afternoon for his sixth start in the majors, and walked the first two batters he faced, Brian Goodwin and Wilmer Difo. Bryce Harper followed with a base-loading, opposite field single, loading them up in front of Ryan Zimmerman, whose broken-bat sac fly to right made it 1-0 early. Nick Markakis made a high, off-target throw in that allowed both Difo and Harper to advance, and one out later, Anthony Rendon lined a 95 mph 1-2 fastball to left-center for a two-out, two-run double, 3-0.

Joe Ross worked around a one-out single in the first, and a two-out double in the second, then issued back-to-back, two-out walks in front of Freddie Freeman in the Braves’ third, and Freeman tied it up with one swing, sending a three-run home run over the fence in left-center for his 16th home run of the season.

Ross did not make it through the fourth inning, however. His velocity was noticeably down from the start this afternoon, and after a mound visit by pitching coach Mike Maddux, the Nationals’ trainer, and then Dusty Baker come out to talk to the right-hander, who was lifted one out into the inning.

Newcomb issued back-to-back walks to Anthony Rendon and Matt Wieters in the first two at bats of the Nationals’ half of the fourth, and Chris Heisey stepped in next and bounced an RBI double off the left field fence, driving Rendon in to put the Nationals back on top, 4-3. Newcomb struck Matt Grace, Brian Goodwin, and Wilmer Difo out to keep it a one-run lead for the Nationals, however, but the 29-pitch frame pushed him up to 97 after four.

• Sean Newcomb’s Line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 7 Ks, 97 P, 60 S, 3/0 GO/FO.

Ian Krol took over for Atlanta in the bottom of the fifth and gave up a one-out walk to Ryan Zimmerman and back-to-back-to-back singles by Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon, and Matt Wieters, with Wieters’ single to center driving in two to make it 6-3 Nationals.

Luke Jackson took over on the mound for Krol and ended the rally when he got Chris Heisey to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3. 6-3 Nationals after five.

Matt Grace came back out for the sixth and gave up a leadoff home run on an 0-1 slider to Johan Camargo, who hit his first MLB homer out to left field, 6-4, then Bryce Harper missed played a roller to right on a low liner from Freddie Freeman, allowing the Braves’ slugger to take third with no one out.

A walk to Matt Kemp earned Grace a visit from Mike Maddux, and a groundout by Nick Markakis brought Freeman in, 6-5 after five and a half.

Joe Blanton tossed a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh, and the Nationals added to their lead in the bottom of the inning with Anthony Rendon drawing a one-out walk (2 for 2, 2B, 2 BB), stealing second base (SB No. 5), and taking third on a throwing error before scoring on a sac fly to left by Matt Wieters, 7-5.

Enny Romero gave up a leadoff double by Camargo in the Braves’ eighth, then threw a 101 mph fastball by Freddie Freeman, a 100 mph 2-2 heater by Matt Kemp and got a groundout from Nick Markakis to end a scoreless, 21-pitch eighth.

Brian Goodwin singled with one out in the Nationals’ eighth, took third on a grounder up the middle by Wilmer Difo and scored on an RBI single by Bryce Harper, 8-5 Nats, and Daniel Murphy hit a two-out, two-run double to left, 10-5 Nationals.

Oliver Perez gave up a leadoff double by Matt Adams to start the ninth, so Dusty Baker went to Matt Albers, who retired three straight to end it.

NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:

  • Washington is 42-19 against the Atlanta Braves since June 21, 2014, and the Nationals have a 122-111 lead in the all-time series between the two teams (2005-present).
  • Washington and Atlanta have split the first 12 games they’ve played so far this season with the Braves winning four of six in D.C. before today.
  • Washington’s shutout loss on Saturday was their first shutout loss of the season, breaking a streak of 86-straight games to start the season, the longest such streak to begin a season in franchise history.
  • In today’s Braves-themed “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: Atlanta has the third best-record in the NL at 20-15... since June 1st.
  • Heading into today’s finale, Atlanta had won won 13 of their last 20 games and 18 of their last 30.
  • A win today would be Washington’s 52nd, tied for the second-most before the All-Star Break in franchise history (2005-present) with the 2005 Nats, but two off the pace the 2016 Nationals set.
  • Washington’s offense started the day leading the NL In AVG (.276), OBP (.343), SLG (.467), hits (842), extra-base hits (317), runs scored (476), and RBIs (462).
  • Joe Ross started the day (1-1) with a 5.85 ERA in four career starts against the Braves, two of them this season.

Nationals now 52-36