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Washington Nationals drop 5th straight with 4-2 loss to Atlanta Braves in D.C.

Davey Martinez’s club dropped the first of three with the Braves, which was their fifth straight loss overall...

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

In his second consecutive start against Atlanta’s Braves, Josiah Gray gave up three runs on three solo shots in 6+ innings of work in Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park, where the home team dropped their fifth straight game overall by a final score of 4-2. Also, the game ended up delayed by rain before the first pitch, and didn’t start until 10:15, which, yeah, not ideal... it ended at around 1:20 AM.

Gray vs ATL: In his second start with the Nationals following the trade from the Dodgers, Josiah Gray struck out 10 of 22 Braves’ batters in a five-inning, 82-pitch start in which he allowed four hits, two walks, and two runs, one earned.

“Those hitters are obviously really accomplished over there,” a confident Gray said after the appearance, “... but at the end of the day I have to make my pitches, and when I do that, my chances to succeed will be high.”

Going up against the Nationals’ NL East rivals for the second time in a week, Gray got off to a good start with back-to-back 12-pitch, 2-K innings in the first and second as he retired the first six Braves’ batters he faced.

Gray added a K in a 15-pitch third, in which he worked around a single, and retired the side in order in a seven-pitch fourth, but with two out in the fifth, he left a two-strike slider up/in to Travis d’Arnaud who lined it out to left for a two-out solo shot that made it a 2-1 game in the Nationals’ favor.

It was tied at 2-2 in the sixth, after Ozzie Albies hit first-pitch curve up and in out to right, over the out-of-town scoreboard for his 21st of 2021 and the second solo shot off of Gray.

The third solo home run was a leadoff blast by Austin Riley in the top of the seventh, on a 94 MPH 2-2 fastball that the Nats’ starter left up in the middle of the zone, 3-2 Braves. No. 24 for Riley. A single by Dansby Swanson in the next at bat ended Gray’s outing...

Josiah Gray’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 3 HRs, 87 P, 59 S, 5/1 GO/FO.

Morton vs D.C.: Charlie Morton, the 37-year-old, 14-year veteran, tossed six scoreless in the Braves’ home park last week, giving up three hits and two walks, while striking out seven, in an 85-pitch outing in a 3-2 loss for the Braves in which he received no decision.

It was the second outing of the season for Morton against the Nationals after he gave up three runs on six hits and three walks at home in Truist Park in late May.

Tonight in the nation’s capital, the right-hander fell behind early with three straight hits in the bottom of the first, a double by Victor Robles, single by Alcides Escobar, and RBI line drive to center by Juan Soto, 1-0. Josh Bell followed with a sac fly to left field that went far enough to allow Escobar to score, 2-0.

Morton held it there through four, and the Braves made it a one-run game with a homer in the top of the fifth, 2-1 Nationals, before the righty came back out and retired the side in a quick, 14-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the inning which left him at 75 pitches overall.

Alcides Escobar and Juan Soto singled in back-to-back at bats to start the Nats’ half of the sixth, but a force at second on a Josh Bell grounder, and back-to-back Ks from both Yadiel Hernández and Carter Kieboom got Morton out of the sixth with the game still tied.

Charlie Morton’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 95 P, 61 S, 8/0 GO/FO.

García’s Run: Nats’ infielder Luis García Luis García started the night on a nice run, with hits in six of his last eight games overall, and five of eight hits over that stretch extra-base hits, three doubles, and two home runs. García singled the second time up, with two on and two out in the fourth, but Josh Bell was thrown out at home trying to score on the play.

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

He added his second hit of the night in the bottom of the seventh, singling off Braves’ right-hander Richard Rodríguez before moving up on a line drive single over short by Tres Barrera which put two on with no one out... though the Nationals didn’t end up scoring any runs in that inning...

Bullpen Action: Mason Thompson took over with a runner on first and no one out in the top of the seventh and got three outs around a two-out walk.

Richard Rodriguez was first out of the ‘pen for the Braves, with a 3-2 lead in the seventh, and he gave up back-to-back singles by Luis García and Tres Barrera.

Andrew Stevenson grounded into a force at third in the next at bat, for out No. 1, and Victor Robles hit one right back to the mound, off Rodriguez’s heel and right to Austin Riley at third base, who got a force at second for out No. 2, and Alcides Escobar lined out to short for out No. 3.

Andres Machado retired the Braves in order in an 11-pitch top of the eighth.

Tyler Matzek came on for Atlanta in the bottom of the inning, and worked around a 2-out, ground-rule double by Yadiel Hernández for a scoreless frame.

Machado came back out in the ninth and gave up the fourth solo home run of the game by the Braves, with Dansby Swanson hitting one out to left-center to make it a 4-2 Braves’ lead.

Will Smith hit Riley Adams in the first at bat of the Nats’ ninth, then walked Tres Barrera to get Ryan Zimmerman up with a chance to win it... but Zim K’d swinging at a 2-2 slider for out No. 1. Victor Robles was first-pitch swinging and he sent a fly to center for out No. 2, leaving it up to Alcides Escobar, who K’d swinging at a 2-2 slider up high to end the game.

Final Score: 4-2 Nationals

Nationals now 50-66