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Washington Nationals blow lead in 9th, lose to Atlanta Braves on Dansby Swanson walk-off HR, 7-6

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Dansby Swanson’s walk-off winner capped off a ninth-inning rally that lifted the Braves to a 7-6 win over the Nationals.

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

Daniel Hudson imploded in the ninth inning and gave up four runs total with a walk-off home run by Dansby Swanson winning it in the series opener in Atlanta, which the Braves rallied to take from Washington’s Nationals. Heartbreaker. 7-6 Braves final.

Sánchez vs the Braves: With an (0-3) record in his first three starts, over which he’s given up 22 hits (five HRs), six walks, and 14 runs in 13 innings pitched (9.69 ERA), starter Aníbal Sánchez’s second season in D.C. has gotten off to a rough start. The 36-year-old, 15-year veteran said after he gave up six hits and five runs in 2 23 IP last time out before tonight’s outing, that he was still searching for a fix.

“I don’t know exactly the answer,” Sánchez said. “I don’t have it right now. I just know that I have to work better when I’m on the mound, something that I have to figure it out.”

Returning to Atlanta tonight, where he revived his career in 2018 before signing a two-year deal with Washington, Sánchez looked sharp in the first, working mostly down in the zone like manager Davey Martinez stressed he needed to in an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 frame, but then he issued a leadoff walk to Marcell Ozuna in the second, and the first baserunner to reach base against him tonight came around to score on a double by Nick Markakis in the next at bat, 3-1, after the Nationals jumped out to an early lead. Austin Riley’s two-out single drove Markakis in and made it a one-run game, 3-2.

Back-to-back-to-back singles in the Braves’ third made it a one-run game once again after the Nationals added their fourth run on a bases-loaded walk in the top of the inning, but a Travis d’Arnaud single brought Dansby Swanson around, 4-3.

A one-out walk to Markakis loaded the bases with one down, but a swinging K and pop to center left them loaded at the end of a 34-pitch third for the Nationals’ starter.

Sánchez worked around a single and intentional walk in the Braves’ fourth, putting Freddie Freeman on with first base open and a runner on third with two out before a fly out to right field ended a 13-pitch frame.

After stranding a leadoff single in an 18-pitch fifth, Sánchez was up to 99 pitches and done for the night...

Aníbal Sánchez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 99 P, 65 S, 7/4 GO/FO.

Toussaint vs the Nationals: Touki Toussaint, 24, and a 2014 1st Round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired by Atlanta in a 2015 trade, made his MLB debut in 2018, and in a total of 35 appearances, nine as a starter so far, the right-hander had put up a 5.42 ERA, a 4.42 FIP, 52 walks, 100 Ks, and a .236/.360/.385 line against in 88 IP.

Toussaint paid for a one-out walk early in tonight’s series opener with the Nationals, putting Kurt Suzuki on in front of rookie Luis García, who hit a first-pitch fastball over the high brick wall in right field for a two-run blast and a 2-0 lead. García’s first MLB homer. Congrats.

One out later, Eric Thames got all of a first-pitch sinker not quite outside enough and hit it off the facade of the stands beyond the wall in right field in Truist Park for a solo home run and a 3-0 lead.

With the score 3-2 Nationals after two, Trea Turner took a base after getting hit to start the top of the third, and he moved up on an Adam Eaton walk, and took third when Juan Soto grounded into a force at second but beat the throw over to first base.

Turner scored on a bases-loaded walk by Kurt Suzuki, who took the second consecutive free pass from the Braves’ starter, 4-2.

A leadoff walk to Carter Kieboom in the fourth ended Toussaint’s outing...

Touki Toussaint’s Line: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HRs, 73 P, 34 S, 1/1 GO/FO.

Garcia’s 1st!: Talking about the Nationals’ decision to bring 20-year-old infielder Luis García up to make his MLB debut this past weekend, Davey Martinez said that they thought he was ready for the challenge.

“I’ve seen him for two years now and he’s matured a lot,” the manager explained.

“Very good player. Unbelievable middle infielder. Handles the bat well. So he’s doing well. We thought he was ready for the jump.”

Garcia went 2 for 8 with a double in Baltimore in his first two games after joining the team, and tonight in Atlanta he got hold of a first-pitch fastball from Touki Toussaint in the top of the second and hit it out to right for a two-run blast which was his first MLB home run.

Thames’ 1st: Eric Thames was frustrated with his .175/.250/.225 start to the first year of his 1-year/$4M deal with the Nationals, according to his manager, but Davey Martinez said on Sunday afternoon he told the veteran slugger to stick with what he was doing because it would come together at some point.

“He got frustrated,” Martinez said on Saturday night. “He’s doing everything he can to get his swing right, I mean, he lined out to right-center field, he hit a bullet.

“He’s hit some balls hard this year, just right at people. So we’ve got to get him going.”

Maybe his first home run in a Nationals uniform will spark something? Thames hit a first-pitch sinker from Touki Toussaint out to right in the top of the second tonight.

BULLPEN ACTION: Braves’ skipper Brian Snitker went to the bullpen in the fourth after Touki Toussaint walked Carter Kieboom to start the top of the inning. Grant Dayton came on with a runner on and gave up a one-out single by Victor Robles and a two-out base-loading walk to Adam Eaton that set Juan Soto up with ducks on the pond, but though he came close on two fly balls to left, one of which was a few feet foul, Soto flew out to end the threat.

Asdrúbal Cabrera got all of a 3-1 fastball from Dayton in the first at bat of the fifth, hitting his fifth home run of the season out to left in Truist Park, 5-3.

Kurt Suzuki and Carter Kieboom singled off the lefty later in the fifth, so the Braves went to their pen again for righty Huascar Ynoa with runners on 1st/3rd and two out. Victor Robles K’d swinging to end the inning.

Dakota Bacus worked around a two-out single in a scoreless, 18-pitch sixth to keep it 5-3 in the Nationals’ favor.

Ynoa stranded a leadoff single in a scoreless top of the seventh to keep it a two-run game.

Tanner Rainey (again?) walked Travis d’Arnaud to start the Braves’ half of the seventh, and gave up a one-out double by Nick Markakis that put two runners in scoring position.

Rainey walked Adam Duvall to load the bases with one down, but the righty got a 3-2 slider by Johan Camargo for out No. 2, then got up 0-2 on pinch hitter Matt Adams and threw a slider by the veteran slugger to leave’em loaded. Still 5-3 Nationals.

Will Harris got the bottom of the eighth inning and gave up a two-out double by Freeman and a walk to d’Arnaud before he got out No. 3 on a groundout to short by Ozuna. Still 5-3 Nationals.

Juan Soto took Will Smith deep to left-center in Truist Park in the top of the ninth to make it a 6-3 game. Soto’s 7th.

#Drama:

Daniel Hudson got the bottom of the ninth for the Nats and hit Nick Markakis, then gave up a two-run homer to left by Adam Duvall on a 1-2 slider, 6-5 game. Johan Camargo hit a ball to right for a single in the at bat that followed, but the Nationals’ closer threw an 0-2 fastball by Adeiny Hechavarria for the first out of the inning. Ender Inciarte sent a fly to short right for out No. 2. Dansby Swanson? Walk-off winner...

Final Score: 7-6 Braves.

Nationals now 8-12