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Washington Nationals come up empty in opener with Atlanta Braves, lose 5-0...

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Atlanta’s starter Mike Soroka and the Braves’ bullpen combined to shut the Washington Nationals out, 5-0.

MLB: SEP 13 Braves at Nationals Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Atlanta Braves’ righty Mike Soroka gave up seven hits (three of them homers) and four runs total in six innings of work on the mound in SunTrust Park last Sunday, but tonight, the 22-year-old rookie tossed six scoreless, giving up just one hit in what ended up a 5-0 win over the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital.

Max Scherzer gave up two hits and one run in six innings in the Braves’ home when the two starters went head-to-head in the finale in Atlanta, but surrendered three runs on seven hits in five innings tonight in D.C., in what was the Nationals’ fourth loss in the last five with their NL East rivals.

Scherzer vs ATL Round 2: In his fourth start back off the IL, Max Scherzer finally felt like he was back to being himself, holding the Braves a run on two hits in six innings in last Sunday afternoon’s 9-4 win in SunTrust Field.

Scherzer, 35, threw 98 pitches, walking two and striking out nine of the 22 batters he faced in what was, in his own estimation, his best outing since returning to the Nationals’ rotation.

“To go out there today, and feel good about it, and feel good about where I am [with my] health, and making it through the start and pitching where I need to pitch, to my mind it took too long, but there’s nothing I can do about it,” Scherzer said. But he finally felt like himself again.

Taking on the Braves again tonight, in a second consecutive start, Scherzer worked around a one-out single in the first, and worked his way out of a first-and-second, no-out jam in the top of the second, striking out three straight batters after first two Braves reached.

After a 1-2-3 third, in which he added two Ks, Scherzer gave up a one-out double to center by Nick Markakis in the top of the fourth inning, and an RBI single to right by Matt Joyce in the next at bat drove Markakis in to make it 1-0 Braves.

Dansby Swanson lined a 94 MPH 1-2 fastball to right field with two out to make it a 2-0 game with his 24th double of 2019, and Scherzer was up to 78 pitches total after a 23-pitch frame.

Ronald Acuña, Jr. and Ozzie Albies hit back-to-back singles to start the top of the fifth, but Scherzer got an out at second on a popped up Charlie Culberson bunt, before walking the next batter, Josh Donaldson, to load them up with one down, then Markakis followed with a sac fly to center on an 0-2 fastball up in the zone, 3-0 Braves.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 99 P, 63 D, 2/4 GO/FO.

Soroka vs D.C. Round 2: Mike Soroka gave up seven hits (three of them home runs) and four runs total in six innings on the mound against the Nationals last week in SunTrust Park, with the three home runs matching the total he’d allowed in his previous five starts and 31 23 IP.

In his last three outings, the 22-year-old right-hander had put up a 4.76 ERA, three walks, 14 Ks, and a .303/.329/.561 line against in 17 IP, with the five of the 13 home runs he’d given up on the season coming over that stretch heading into his second consecutive outing against the Braves’ divisional rivals.

Soroka tossed three scoreless and hitless to start, working around two walks, and took the mound with a 2-0 lead after three and a half innings, but a leadoff double to right field by Adam Eaton in the Nationals’ half of the fourth broke up his nascent no-hit bid, and a one-out walk to Juan Soto put two on for Ryan Zimmerman, who lined out to center to end the Braves’ starter’s fourth scoreless.

It was 3-0 in the fifth when Soroka came back out and retired the side in order in a 17-pitch frame which left him at 80 total in five scoreless.

Soroka returned to the mound in the bottom of the sixth and retired the Nationals in order in a 14-pitch inning that ended his outing.

Mike Soroka’s Line: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 94P, 57 S, 6/3 GO/FO.

RendOBP: Anthony Rendon homered the first time up last night in Minnesota, connecting for his 33rd dinger of the 2019 campaign and extending his on-base streak to 27-straight games, over which the 29-year-old outfielder has gone 42 for 105 (.400/.484/.743) with a total of 12 doubles, eight homers, and 17 walks (vs 12 Ks) in 124 plate appearances.

Rendon was 0 for 3 with a K against Braves’ starter Mike Soroka, and finished the game 0 for 4. Streak over.

BULLPEN ACTION: Tanner Rainey took over for the Nationals in the top of the sixth, and worked around a two-out walk (to the opposing pitcher) in a 16-pitch frame, but his first pitch of the seventh cleared the out-of-town scoreboard, with Ozzie Albies’ 23rd homer making it a 4-0 game in the Braves’ favor.

Chris Martin took over for the visitors with a four-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, and retired the side in order to keep the Braves’ one-hit shutout intact.

Hunter Strickland gave up a leadoff single by Matt Joyce and a one-out walk to Dansby Swanson in the top of the eighth, and Joyce scored on an RBI double by Rafael Ortega which made it a 5-0 game.

Javy Guerra struck Acuña out with two on and one out, and after an intentional walk to load the bases, he got the Nationals out of the inning.

Victor Robles doubled to left off Shane Greene to start the Nationals’ half of the eighth, and took third on the second out of the inning, but was stranded there.

Guerra got through a scoreless ninth to keep it a five-run deficit, and Jerry Blevins made it a combined shutout with a scoreless bottom of the inning, working around a two-out double by Juan Soto to end it. 5-0 Braves final.

Nationals now 81-65