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Washington Nationals drop 7-1 decision to Atlanta Braves in series finale, settle for split

Kevin Gausman gave up some hard hit balls, but not many hits in what ended up a 7-1 Braves’ win over the Nationals.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Ross gave up two runs early and one late in his outing, and the Washington Nationals had a hard time figuring Kevin Gausman out as the Atlanta Braves cruised to a 7-1 win in the series finale in SunTrust Park. Davey Martinez’s squad settled for a split, winning two games of four from their NL East rivals, and now they head home to D.C. for 10 games in Nationals Park.

Ross vs the Braves: The Nationals were hoping it would be Max Scherzer tonight. But if not Scherzer in the series finale, it was going to be Austin Voth. But it turns out Scherzer’s back didn’t recover in time, so Voth? Nope. Some tenderness in his shoulder took Voth out of the running. So it was Joe Ross returning to the majors tonight to take on the Braves in SunTrust Park.

Though Ross has worked exclusively out of the bullpen in the majors this season, it didn’t go well, so he was put back in the rotation at Triple-A Fresno, where he was (2-3) in eight starts, with a 4.20 ERA, eight walks, 32 Ks, and a .310 BAA in 40 IP before he was called back up to the majors for tonight’s finale in with the Braves.

Ross fell behind early in his first start of the year in the majors, giving up a one-out walk to Dansby Swanson, a single by Freddie Freeman, and a two-out, two-run liner to right off of Nick Markakis’s bat that made it 2-0 after one in Atlanta.

Ross held the Braves to the two runs through five, though his pitch count got up there, to 88 total after a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth.

He led off the top of the sixth with strikeout even though he was up to 88 pitches, and came back out for the sixth and gave up a bomb to left-center on his 90th pitch of the outing, on a 1-0 slider that Josh Donaldson crushed, sending his 23rd of 2019 out of the yard, 3-0. One out later, a single to right by Ozzie Albies ended Ross’s outing...

Joe Ross’s Line: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 98 P, 56 S, 3/4 GO/FO.

Gausman vs the Nationals: Braves’ righty Kevin Gausman was winless in five starts with a 9.74 ERA and a .372/.419/.585 line against in 20 13 IP before he went on the IL with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. That rough stretch left him with a 6.21 ERA in 62 13 IP overall this season, over which opposing hitters had a combined .285/.351/.459 line against him.

Returning to Atlanta’s rotation tonight, in the series finale in SunTrust Park, the 28-year-old right-hander was efficient early, tossing five scoreless on 55 pitches as the Braves jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

Gausman was efficient and dominant, though he got hit hard at times, throwing six strong and scoreless on just 64 pitches, allowing just three hits, and he came out for the seventh with a 3-0 lead, and threw a quick, 1-2-3 frame on just 13 pitches.

After a long bottom of the seventh, Gausman came back out and gave up back-to-back hits, singles by both Brian Dozier and Kurt Suzuki, which ended his outing...

Kevin Gausman’s Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 Ks, 83 P, 63 S, 2/6 GO/FO.

Zimmerman leaves game: Ryan Zimmerman hit a 1-2 splitter from Kevin Gausman to third in the top of the second, and tweaked something in his foot running to first. Zimmerman was captured on ESPN’s microphones saying it was something with his heel in talking to Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman, and he left the game at that point, replaced by Matt Adams at first base.

Rendon is Streaking Again: Anthony Rendon started the night with a 10-game hit streak over which he was 17 for 39 (.436/.500/.590) with six doubles over that stretch.

The 29-year-old three-hole hitter had multi-hit games in six of those 10 and he had hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games overall, with multi-hit games in nine of the last 16 games. He was 0 for 3 through seven, and he popped out in the ninth, leaving him 0 for 4. So long, Streak.

BULLPEN ACTION: Tony Sipp took over with a runner on in the Braves’ sixth and got two quick outs to keep it a three-run game in Atlanta’s favor.

Sipp returned to the mound in the bottom of the eighth and got one out before the Nats went to the pen again for Javy Guerra, who walked the first batter he faced, Ronald Acuña, Jr. and one out later, gave up back-to-back hits, an RBI double by Freddie Freeman, who drove Acuña, Jr. in in spite of a faceplant going around third for the outfielder, and an RBI single by Josh Donaldson that made it 5-0.

Matt Grace came out with the bases loaded and two out to get the Nationals out of the inning after the damage had been done.

Anthony Swarzak took over for the Braves after Kevin Gausman gave up back-to-back hits in the first two at bats of the Nats’ eighth and got the first out on a Victor Robles pop-up, but a pinch hit single by Gerardo Parra on a pop to short left that fell just inside the line, brought the Nationals’ first run of the game in, 5-1. Swarzak got the next two outs and the Nats left two on base.

Kyle McGowin gave up a leadoff walk to Ender Inciarte, and one out later, surrendered a two-run blast to left by Ronald Acuña, Jr. 7-1 Braves. Acuña, Jr.’s 24th of 2019.

Josh Tomlin got the ninth for the Braves and retired the Nationals in order to end it. 7-1 final.

Nationals now 52-46