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Washington Nationals 4-3 over Atlanta Braves in series opener in D.C. for 5th straight win

After falling behind 3-0 early tonight, the Nationals rallied for a 4-3 win over the Braves in the series opener in the nation’s capital.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Washington’s Nationals fell behind 3-0 early in the series opener with the Atlanta Braves, but Stephen Strasburg held the visiting team there as the Nats battled back to tie it with three runs in the fourth before taking the lead in the fifth and holding on for a 4-3 win in Nationals Park.

Oh, and Trevor Rosenthal came on with a runner on second with two out in the eighth in a one-run game and got the third out. So, like, yeah, buy those lottery tickets tonight.

Strasburg vs ATL: Stephen Strasburg had a five-start unbeaten streak snapped in a rough outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks last week in which he gave up nine hits and six runs in five innings on the mound in what ended up a 10-3 loss.

Strasburg was (4-0) in the five-start stretch, with a 2.91 ERA, seven walks, 35 strikeouts, and a .208/.263/.275 line against in 34 IP before the bump in the road, which left him with a 3.75 ERA, a 3.27 FIP, 24 walks, 115 Ks, and a .221/.275/.365 line against in 15 starts and 96 IP total on the season.

One of the outings in the unbeaten streak was against the Atlanta Braves he was facing in the series opener tonight in D.C. In that start in SunTrust Park, the 30-year-old righty gave up five hits and two runs in seven innings in which he struck out 11 of 29 batters he faced.

In his second outing of the season against the Nationals’ NL East rivals Strasburg fell behind early, giving up a one-out, two-run homer to left on a 1-1 fastball to Austin Riley that ended up in the left field bullpen, giving the Braves a 2-0 lead early.

It was the fifth home run in Strasburg’s last seven innings on the mound, after he gave up three total in 10 starts and 68 13 IP between April 21st and June 9th.

Back-to-back two-out hits in the top of the third gave the Braves a three-run lead over the Nationals, 3-0, with Dansby Swanson hitting a single to left on a 3-2 curve and scoring on an opposite field RBI double to left by Freddie Freeman, who lined a first-pitch curve the other way.

Strasburg held the Braves to three runs through five, however, as the Nationals rallied to tie it with a three-run fourth before taking the lead in the bottom of the fifth, 4-3, and he came out for the sixth and worked around back-to-back, one-out singles in a 22-pitch frame which left him at 101 pitches overall...

Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 101 P, 62 S, 7/1 GO/FO.

Keuchel’s 2019 debut: Coming off a (12-11) campaign in 2018 in which he put up a 3.74 ERA, a 3.69 FIP, 58 walks, 153 Ks, and a .263/.311/.393 line against in 204 23 IP, Dallas Keuchel sat around all winter waiting for a free agent deal.

Then Spring Training started. Then Opening Day came and went. It took until June 7th before he got a 1-year/$13M deal from Atlanta’s Braves.

After two starts in the minors, Keuchel got the call to start the series opener with the Nats in the nation’s capital tonight and tossed three scoreless to start as the Braves jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but an error by Ozzie Albies on a Brian Dozier grounder and a triple to right field off of Victor Robles’s bat, got the home team on the board, 3-1, before Michael A. Taylor put down a sac bunt to bring Robles home, 3-2, and Yan Gomes hit an 0-1 fastball out to left for a game-tying solo homer, 3-3.

Juan Soto hit a 2-1 fastball into the right field corner for a standup triple to lead off the fifth, and he scored on a single by Anthony Rendon in the next at bat, 4-3.

Howie Kendrick’s line drive to center gave the Nationals three straight hits to start the fifth inning, and a one-out hit-by-pitch on Victor Robles loaded the bases, but the Nationals left them loaded after taking the lead...

Dallas Keuchel’s Line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 99 P, 64 S, 8/4 GO/FO.

Atlanta vs Washington: Heading into this weekend’s three-game set in D.C, the Nationals (36-38) and Braves (44-31) were both going strong with the NL East’s first place team 14-4 over the last 18 and the third-place Nats winners of 17 of their last 24.

Davey Martinez’s squad was swinging it too, with home runs in six straight games, while the Braves, led by manager Brian Snitker, had multi-homer games in each of the previous six.

The Nats swept the two-game set with the Braves in SunTrust Park earlier this season in the first matchup of 2019 between the divisional rivals, with 17 more to play including tonight’s game, and the Braves came into town 10-9 in the last 19 in Washington, D.C., after a rough stretch between 2014-16 in which they were 2-23 in Nationals Park. No real point to all this other than to say it should be good baseball all weekend. It was fun tonight.

BULLPEN ACTION: Touki Toussaint took over on the mound for the Braves in the bottom of the sixth, walked Adam Eaton to start the frame, and a wild pitch and passed ball allowed Eaton to take second and then third, but he was stranded there three outs later.

Javy Guerra, working for the third consecutive day, gave up a one-out single by Matt Joyce but stranded him at first two outs later. Still 4-3 Nationals.

Right-hander Jacob Webb tossed a quick, 1-2-3 frame for the Braves in the bottom of the seventh.

Tony Sipp struck Freddie Freeman out to start the top of the eighth, but gave up a line drive double to left by Josh Donaldson on a 2-2 fastball in the next at bat. Nick Markakis stepped in next and sent a fly to left for out No. 2, so Davey Martinez went to Trevor Rosenthal (?) against Austin Riley with a runner on second and two outs and Rosenthal got up 1-2 and got a ground ball to third to end the inning. [ed. note - “Phew.”]

Webb tossed a scoreless bottom of the eighth for the Braves to keep it close.

With Sean Doolittle apparently unavailable, Wander Suero got the ninth with a one-run lead and walked the first batter, Brian McCann, who was replaced at first by Johan Camargo.

Charlie Culberson stepped up with two on and no one out and lined out to right. 1. Ronald Acuña, Jr.? Swinging K on a 97 MPH 2-2 cutter. 2. Dansby Swanson? Pop to right field... where Victor Robles made a sliding catch for out No. 3!!! BALLGAME!!! 4-3 Nationals.

Nationals now 37-38