Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, and in danger of dropping 2 of 3 to the NL East’s first-place Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals rallied to tie it and send the series finale to extra innings.
Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon connected for back-to-back hits off of Braves’ closer Luke Jackson to start the rally.
Left-hander Sean Newcomb came on to face Juan Soto, and walked him on four pitches in the next at bat, loading the bases with no one out, and Kurt Suzuki lined a 2-0 pitch to left for an RBI single, 4-3.
Gerardo Parra hit into a double play, but the tying run scored on the grounder, 4-4, but the Nats left the potential winning run at third base when Brian Dozier struck out.
It went to extras in the nation’s capital, but one out into the 10th, Sean Doolittle gave up a go-ahead home run by Josh Donaldson, 5-4 Braves. That’s how it ended.
Sánchez vs ATL: A five-inning outing in SunTrust Park during the last road trip, in which he gave up six hits, three walks, and three earned runs, was enough for Aníbal Sánchez to get his sixth win of the season, climbing back to .500 after an 0-6 start to the 2019 campaign.
His third outing against the Braves he pitched for in 2018 left him (2-0) with a 3.71 ERA, five walks, 17 Ks, and a .203/.271/.313 line against in 17 IP against his former team this season.
Sánchez’s fourth start against the Nationals’ NL East rivals began with a scoreless first, but Adam Duvall, who homered twice in the Braves’ 11-8 win last night, went deep again, taking a 2-2 fastball from the Nats’ starter out to left for a one-out home run in the second, 1-0.
A single by Ender Inciarte, double by Tyler Flowers, and intentional walk to Johan Camargo loaded the bases after Duvall’s blast, but Sánchez got a 4-6-3 double play out of the Braves’ starter, Mike Soroka, to limit the damage to the one run, and the Nationals tied it up.
Back-to-back doubles by Ronald Acuña, Jr. and Ozzie Albies in the third put the Braves back on top, 2-1, and they added to their lead with three consecutive two-out singles off Sánchez in the fourth, 3-1.
Ender Inciarte and Tyler Flowers hit back-to-back, one-out doubles in the sixth, adding to the Braves’ lead, 4-1, and Sanchez was done after throwing 98 pitches in five+ innings..
Aníbal Sánchez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 98 P, 75 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
Soroka vs D.C. Round 2: Braves’ righty Mike Soroka had a 15-start unbeaten streak snapped with a loss to the Nationals during the series in SunTrust Park earlier this month, giving up a total of nine hits, two walks, and four earned runs in what ended up a 5-3 loss for Atlanta.
Washington’s second-year skipper talked after the game about how the Nationals got to the 2015 1st Round pick, scoring a run in the fourth and three in the fifth after he’d tossed three scoreless to start the matchup.
“He’s got an unbelievable sinker and his slider and changeup, he used the changeup a lot today, so we just had to get the ball up,” Martinez said. “We started swinging at balls down and that’s what he wants you to do, ground balls, ground balls, get the ball up.”
Juan Soto got an 0-1 fastball up from Soroka in the first at bat of the Nats’ second and hit it out to left-center for a game-tying blast a half-inning after the Braves took a 1-0 lead, 1-1.
It was 3-1 in the Braves’ favor in the bottom of the fourth inning when Anthony Rendon took a one-out walk and Juan Soto singled to put runners on the corners with one out, but Kurt Suzuki lined out to first base and Freddie Freeman beat Soto back to the bag for an inning-ending DP.
Soroka held the Nationals to one run through seven, as the Braves added a run in the sixth to go up 4-1.
Mike Soroka’s Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 93 P, 54 S, 10/3 GO/FO.
Soto Swinging it: Juan Soto homered the other way in Tuesday night’s loss, and in doing so he extended an RBI streak to five consecutive games, the longest streak of his career, with seven RBIs total over that stretch, and he made it six games in a row with his second homer in as many at bats in the bottom of the second this afternoon, taking an 0-1 fastball up in the zone from Mike Soroka out to center field for his 20th home run of the season.
The blast was the 42nd of Soto’s career, tied with Bryce Harper for the third-most in MLB history prior to a player’s 21st birthday. The rest of the list? Via @NationalsPR on Twitter: 1. Mel Ott (61); 2. Tony Conigliaro (56); T3. Bryce Harper (42); T3. Juan Soto (42).
BULLPEN ACTION: Tanner Rainey took over with a runner on second and one out in the top of the sixth, and got an out at third on a grounder to first when Gerardo Parra fielded it and made an aggressive throw across the diamond to cut down the lead runner. Rainey got the Nationals out of the sixth without further damage.
Wander Suero gave the Nationals two scoreless, working around a double in the top of the eighth after a 1-2-3 seventh.
Anthony Swarzak gave up a solo shot by pinch hitter Matt Adams in the Nationals’ half of the eighth, 4-2. Adams’ 17th of 2019.
Big City just did a Ample Municipality thing!— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 31, 2019
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Fernando Rodney handled the top of the ninth for the Nationals.
Luke Jackson gave up back-to-back hits by Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon in the Nats’ half of the ninth, so the Braves went to the pen for Sean Newcomb vs Juan Soto with two runners on and no one out. Soto walked to load the bases and Kurt Suzuki made it a one-run game with a single to left, 4-3, before Gerardo Parra grounded into a double play on which the tying run scored, 4-4.
Soto was stranded at third when Brian Dozier went down swinging, but it went to extras.
Sean Doolittle came on in a tie game in the 10th, but gave up a one-out home run to center off Josh Donaldson’s bat, on a 1-2 fastball, 5-4 Braves. Just the second home run Doolittle’s surrendered since May 24th, though both came in this series.
Josh Tomlin got a save opportunity in the bottom of the tenth. Adrían Sanchez singled with one down to bring Trea Turner to the plate, and Turner battled back from 0-2 to take a walk that put two on in front of Adam Eaton, who popped out. Anthony Rendon stepped in next and lined out to left... [sigh]
[ed. note - “The above was lightly edited, because there’s a lot going on, but feel free to helpfully point out all the mistakes/typos in the comments.”]
Nationals now 57-51.