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Nationals come out swinging, take opener from Braves, 8-3: Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman home runs spark Nats...

Washington’s Nationals scored four in the fourth and four more in the sixth as they took the series opener with the Atlanta Braves, 8-3 final.

MLB: Game One-Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman hit back-to-back jacks in the fourth as part of a four-run rally, and the Washington Nationals added four more in the the sixth as they took the first of two today from the Atlanta Braves, 8-3.

Jefry Rodriguez, the 26th man for today’s doubleheader, tossed five strong on 64 pitches, giving up just three hits and a run before Davey Martinez turned things over to the pen.

Matt Grace, Justin Miller, Greg Holland (Welcome to D.C.), Sammy Solis, and Wander Suero locked it down.

Rodriguez vs Atlanta: Jefry Rodriguez held the Braves scoreless over 4 23 innings in Atlanta back on June 3rd, giving up four hits and two walks in his MLB debut.

“I expected maybe a couple innings, but he did really well,” Davey Martinez told reporters in SunTrust Park.

“I’m really excited about our future with a guy like that. He went out there, he was poised, pitched out of a couple innings where the balls got away from him a little bit, came back and threw strikes again, and he was really good.”

In four appearances, and three starts, since, the 25-year-old right-hander had given up 17 hits, 10 walks, and 15 runs, all earned, over 15 innings.

Called back up to face the Braves again, in the first of four with the Nationals’ NL East rivals in the nation’s capital, Rodriguez got off to a good start, retiring the first seven batters of the game before a two-out hit-by-pitch in the third, but he stranded the first runner to reach and completed three scoreless on 41 pitches.

Three singles in the top of the fourth led to the Braves’ first run, as Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, and Johan Camargo all connected for hits with Freeman scoring on Camargo’s two-out grounder through the left side, 1-0.

It was 4-1 in the Nationals’ favor when Rodriguez retook the mound (after doubling for his first MLB hit as part of the fourth inning rally), and he retired the side in order in what was his final inning of work, a seven-pitch frame that left him at 64 pitches after five.

Jefry Rodriguez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 Ks, 64 P, 43 S, 7/4 GO/FO.

Fried vs the Nationals: Through four outings this season, Max Fried, 24, was (1-2) with a 2.75 ERA, 13 walks, and 25 Ks in 19 23 IP, over which he’d held hitters to a .219/.358/.281 line.

Fried took a loss in his last start, a five-inning outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers which saw the southpaw give up two hits, three walks, and one earned run in what ended up a 5-1 loss at home in SunTrust Park.

In the majors this season, the southpaw has been particularly stingy with runners in scoring position, giving up just one hit in 25 at bats (.040 AVG), with 14 Ks with runners in scoring position, holding hitters hitless at 0 for 10 with five Ks with two outs and RISP in 2018.

Opposing hitters were 1 for 27 with 16 Ks with runners in scoring position vs Fried after both Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman went down swinging with a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the first.

Fried completed two scoreless, on 42 pitches, but the final out of the Nationals’ second was a 104 mph line drive back to the mound by Spencer Kieboom that caught the pitcher flush in the lower back/kidneys.

Fried didn’t come back out for the third...

Max Fried’s Line: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 42 P, 25 S, 1/1 GO/FO.

Harper, Harper, Harper: Going into today’s game, Bryce Harper was hitting .367 (18-for-49) with six doubles, three homers, 10 walks, three stolen bases, and 12 runs scored in the first 15 games out of the All-Star break.

He added his fourth home run in 16 games out of the Break in the home-half of the fourth this afternoon, hitting a 90 mph 1-1 fastball from left-hander Kolby Allard out to right field in Nationals Park to tie things up at 1-1 before Ryan Zimmerman followed with the second of back-to-back blasts to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead, and they added two more to make it 4-1 after four.

Harper was 2 for 4 on the day after hitting a two-out RBI single in the sixth that made it a 6-2 game.

#JualkSoto: Juan Soto walked three times (one an IBB) and went 2 for 2 with two singles, with the walks, his 47th, 48th, and 49th, giving him as many walks as Ks on the season.

BULLPEN ACTION: Braves’ lefty Kolby Allard took over for Max Fried in the bottom of the third inning, after pitcher Kevin Gausman batted for the starter in the top of the inning.

Allard worked around a single for a scoreless frame in the third, but gave up back-to-back blasts by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman in the bottom of the fourth inning. Harper’s 27th and Zimmerman’s 7th put the Nationals up, 2-1, a half-inning after the Braves jumped out to an early lead.

Two outs later, Spencer Kieboom walked, and went first-to-third on a double to left by Jefry Rodriguez (1st MLB hit), before Trea Turner drove him in with an RBI single, 3-1, and 4-1 on a single to center by Juan Soto.

Jonny Venters took over on the mound for Atlanta in the bottom of the fifth, and worked around a double by Ryan Zimmerman for a scoreless frame.

Matt Grace took over for the Nationals in the sixth, and gave up a leadoff double to left by Ozzie Albies, who took third on a groundout by Freddie Freeman before scoring on a one-out RBI single by Nick Markakis, 4-2.

Justin Miller took over for Grace at that point, and got the final out of the frame.

Shane Carle came on for Atlanta and issued back-to-back walks to Spencer Kieboom and Wilmer Difo in the first two at bats of the Nats’ sixth.

One out later, Carle fell behind Juan Soto, eventually walking him too, and Anthony Rendon (sac fly) and Bryce Harper (RBI line drive) drove in two runs, 6-2 Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman hit his second double of the game and eighth of the season off the left field wall in the next at bat, driving in two to make it 8-2.

Greg Holland, whose signing was officially announced today, made his Nationals debut in the top of the seventh, walking the first batter he faced before recording three straight Ks for a 22-pitch frame.

Sammy Solis gave up a leadoff single by Ozzie Albies, but got a 4-6-3 DP out of Freddie Freeman, and a line drive out to left from Nick Markakis in a quick, five-pitch eighth.

Wander Suero got the ninth after the Nationals came up empty against Luke Jackson, and gave up a solo home run by Charlie Culberson (No. 6) before finishing the Braves off (after working around a two-out E:5).


Final Score: 8-3 Nationals

Nationals now 58-54