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Washington Nationals avoid sweep with 7-0 win in series finale with the Atlanta Braves

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Washington’s Nationals avoided the sweep with a 7-0 win, but finished the season series 8-11 against the NL East’s first-place Atlanta Braves.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves’ lefty Max Fried held the Washington Nationals to one hit in seven scoreless in SunTrust Park last weekend, but this time out the Nats scored five runs on six hits off the 25-year-old southpaw, knocking him out after he’d thrown 65 pitches in 2 13 innings on the mound in what ended up a 7-0 win for the home team in the nation’s capital.

Nationals’ starter Aníbal Sánchez tossed seven scoreless on 109 pitches, giving up three hits and a walk, and earning his 9th win (9-8) while lowering his ERA from 4.04 to 3.86 in 2019.

Sánchez vs the Braves: Heading into this afternoon’s game, Aníbal Sánchez, who’d gone unbeaten in a 15-start stretch between mid-May and mid-August, was winless over his previous three outings, with a 5.82 ERA in 17 IP in that stretch, which left him with a 4.04 ERA overall on the season in the first year of his 2-year/$19M contract with the Nationals.

Today’s start was his fifth against Atlanta in 2019, after he’d put up a 4.50 ERA, six walks, 23 Ks, and a .261/.316/.432 line against in 22 innings of work against Washington’s NL East rival.

Sánchez tossed three scoreless to start, on 41 pitches, working around one hit, and he took the mound with a 5-0 lead in the fourth and stranded a two-out walk in a 19-pitch inning to finish four scoreless on 60 pitches.

A 19-pitch fifth, in which he worked around a one-out hit left him at 79 total, and a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth pushed the Nats’ starter up to 91 pitches overall.

It was 7-0 in the seventh when Sánchez came back out and worked around a one-out single in an 18-pitch frame which left him at 109.

Aníbal Sánchez’s Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 109 P, 67 S, 8/8 GO/FO.

Fried vs the Nationals: Max Fried tossed seven scoreless against the Nationals in SunTrust Park last weekend, giving up just one hit, but he followed up on that outing with a rough start against the Phillies in which he gave up seven hits and five runs in five innings on the mound in what ended up a 6-5 loss in Citizens Bank Park.

Fried tossed a scoreless first on 23 pitches today, but Howie Kendrick singled to start the bottom of the second, and took third on a one-out double by Victor Robles (No. 32), before scoring on a two-run single by Yan Gomes, who sent a roller through the right side to make it 2-0.

Trea Turner singled to start the Nationals’ third, moved up on a bunt by Adam Eaton, then took third on a single by Anthony Rendon. Juan Soto stepped in with runners on first and third and walked to load the bases. Kendrick battled Fried for eight pitches and hit a two-run, bloop single to center field, 4-0.

Fried walked Brian Dozier in the next at bat, and was done for the day after throwing 65 pitches in 2 13 IP...

Max Fried’s Line: 2.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 65 P, 34 S, 3/1 GO/FO.

Soto SoHot at the plate: Juan Soto was 0 for 3 in Saturday afternoon’s loss, but over his last 26 games, the Nationals’ 20-year-old slugger has been tearing it up, going 33 for 101 (.327/.424/.723), with a total of 11 doubles, nine home runs, and 16 walks in 116 PAs in that stretch.

Soto connected for his 34th homer of the season three games back, in the finale in Target Field, which left him tied for the second-most HRs in a season by a 20-year old in MLB history, behind only Mel Ott (42 in 1929), and his 56 career homers in his first two major league seasons in D.C. were the second-most by a player before their 21st birthday, tied with the Red Sox’ Tony Conigliaro, behind only Ott (61).

Soto was 0 for 1 with a walk against Braves’ lefty Max Fried, against whom he was 0 for 3 with three Ks last week, and he singled off reliever Chad Sobotka in the seventh, 1 for 3.

Howie Doin’?: Howie Kendrick missed nine games with a hamstring issue in late July/early August, but coming into today’s game, he was 21 for 53 (.396 AVG) since returning to the lineup on August 12th, with seven doubles, two home runs, four walks, and 10 runs scored in 22 games (10 starts) and 58 PAs after coming off the IL.

Kendrick also had a .307/.354/.484 line in the 62 games he’d started before today, with a total of 16 of 23 doubles on the season and 9 of his 14 home runs coming in his starts.

He added his 10th homer when he starts and 15th HR of the season in the bottom of the fifth, connecting for his third hit of the day to that point (3 for 3, 2 R, 3 RBIs). He finished with three hits on the day...

BULLPEN ACTION: Jeremy Walker inherited a bases-loaded, one-out jam from Max Fried, and lived up to his name with a free pass to Victor Robles that forced in the Nationals’ 5th run, 5-0.

Walker returned to the mound in the bottom of the fourth and retired the side in order.

Braves’ lefty Grant Dayton gave up a two-out home run to left by Howie Kendrick on a 2-0 fastball in the bottom of the sixth, 6-0. Kendrick’s 15th of 2019.

Anthony Swarzak gave up a leadoff and one-out singles and a base-loading free pass in the bottom of the sixth, but got a 3-6-5 DP out of Adam Eaton on a liner to first that Braves’ first baseman Austin Riley dropped before recovering the ball and throwing to second for one out before Dansby Swanson threw to third, but a run scored before they got out No. 3, 7-0.

Chad Sobotka worked around a single and two walks in a scoreless bottom of the seventh to keep it a seven-run deficit.

Hunter Strickland worked around a one-out single for a scoreless top of the eighth.

Kyle Wright retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the eighth.

Sean Doolittle came on in the ninth, with a seven-run lead, and retired the side in order to end it, with some help from Victor Robles in center. Ballgame.

Final Score: 7-0 Nationals

Nationals now 82-66