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Washington Nationals avoid sweep, stop four-game slide, with 9-4 win over Atlanta Braves

It took them three games to do it, but the Nationals scored early and never looked back in a 9-4 win in the series finale in SunTrust Park.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Davey Martinez told reporters last night that he wanted to see his club, which had lost three in a row in Atlanta, four straight, and five of six, come out and “knock the doors down early,” after they had struggled to score off the Braves’ starting pitchers in the first three games of the series in SunTrust Park, and they did just that, taking a 2-0 lead two batters in on a two-run home run by Adam Eaton and adding runs in the second and third before a four-run top of the seventh blew things open in what ended up a 9-4, sweep-avoiding win.

Scherzer vs ATL: Max Scherzer went six innings on 90 pitches last time out, building up his arm strength after two IL stints after the All-Star break limited him to four starts and 20 13 IP in the months of July and August.

Davey Martinez said after that game, the improbable, 11-10 comeback win over the NY Mets, that his starter wanted to go deeper but listened to reason.

“He fought me about staying in the game,” Martinez explained, “... and I said, ‘Hey, let’s think about the big picture, you feel great, that’s six innings for you, more than you had in the last two outings, and let’s just build from there. You’re at 90 pitches, I think you did great,’ and then he finally said yeah, that’s good, and he’s got five days and he’s at it again.”

In his fourth start back off the IL, Scherzer took the mound with a 2-0 lead this afternoon and retired the Braves in order in a 14-pitch bottom of the first, and it was 3-0 when he returned to the mound in the second, but he gave up a one-out solo shot to right by Matt Joyce, with Atlanta’s outfielder connecting on a 90 MPH 3-2 cutter that went out over the high wall in right, 3-1.

It was 4-1 in the third when Scherzer worked around a two-out walk in a 22-pitch frame that left him at 60 total after three, and he worked out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in a 20-pitch fourth, striking out back-to-back batters after a walk and double gave the Braves an opportunity to cut into the lead.

Scherzer struck out two in an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth that left him at 91 pitches, and a 1-2-3 sixth, which ended with a liner back to the mound by Josh Donaldson, left Scherzer at 98 pitches in six strong.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 Bb, 9 Ks, 1 HR, 98 P, 64 S, 3/3 GO/FO.

Soroka vs D.C.: Mike Soroka’s first start of the season against the Nationals ended when he was hit on the right arm by a pitch after just two innings in the nation’s capital.

He didn’t miss any time, however, and a month later the Braves’ 20-year-old right-hander had a 15-start unbeaten streak snapped when he gave up nine hits, two walks, and four earned runs in a 5-3 loss to the Nationals at home in SunTrust Park.

Soroka allowed a run on three hits in seven innings of work on the mound in his third start against the Nationals this season on July 31st in D.C., earning the win in a 5-4 decision for the Braves.

Soroka fell behind early this afternoon in Atlanta, with Trea Turner singling to start the series finale, and scoring on a line drive home run to center by Adam Eaton, who barreled up a 92 MPH 1-0 fastball and sent a two-run shot screaming into the stands, 2-0.

Yan Gomes hit the second home run of the game off Soroka in the second, taking a 3-2 change out to left on a line for his 8th of 2019 and a 3-0 lead.

Soroka, who’d given up 10 HRs total on the season before today, in 152 23 IP, gave up his third in three innings when Juan Soto hit a 1-0 fastball out to left for a towering blast that kept going, and going, and going, until it hit the foul pole, 4-1 at that point. Soto’s 33rd.

After working out of a two-on, no-out jam in the sixth, Soroka was done for the day...

Mike Soroka’s Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 3 HRs, 91 P, 55 S, 6/4 GO/FO.

RendOBP: Anthony Rendon was hitless in Saturday’s loss, bringing an end to a nine-game hit streak, but he walked in the seventh inning, extending an on-base streak to 23 straight games, over which the 29-year-old third baseman was 38 for 92 (.413/.481/.739) with nine doubles, seven home runs, and 12 walks (vs 10 Ks) in 106 plate appearances.

Rendon extended his on-base streak the first time up against Braves’ starter Mike Soroka this afternoon, bouncing his 40th double of the season off the right field wall for the third consecutive hit to start the game.

BULLPEN ACTION: Chad Sobotka took over on the mound in the seventh and gave up a solo shot to center by Yan Gomes on a 96 MPH 1-1 fastball that went out to left-center for his second of the game and No. 9 of 2019 by the Nationals’ catcher, 5-1.

Max Scherzer singled off Sobotka, stole second base when no one held him on, and then scored on an RBI double to right by Adam Eaton, who sent a screamer by first base to put the Nationals up 6-1.

A.J. Minter took over for Sobotka after a walk to Anthony Rendon followed the double by Eaton, and the lefty gave up a two-out, two-run double by Asdrúbal Cabrera, 8-1.

Wander Suero took over for the Nationals with a seven-run lead and worked around a walk, striking out two in a 26-pitch frame.

Minter returned to the mound in the top of the eighth, and got a double play after a leadoff single by Victor Robles, but gave up back-to-back, two-out singles by Brian Dozier and Wilmer Difo before he was lifted for Jeremy Walker, who got the final out of the inning to keep it an 8-1 game.

Javy Guerra needed just five pitches in a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth.

Anthony Rendon doubled to start the ninth (2 for 4, 2 doubles, BB), and was replaced on the basepaths by Adrián Sanchez, who scored from third one out later on an RBI single to right by Asdrúbal Cabrera, 9-1. Cabrera finished the game 4 for 5 with 3 RBIs.

Guerra came back out for the bottom of the ninth and gave up a solo home run by Charlie Culberson, 9-2, and a single to right by Johan Camargo, and a single to left field by Dansby Swanson, and a two-out, two-run, ground-rule double by Francisco Cervelli, 9-3, and an RBI single by Adam Duvall, 9-4, before it was finally over. Ballgame.

Final Score: 9-4 Nats

Nationals now 79-63