Paolo Espino gave up five runs on eight hits in four innings of work in the series finale with the Atlanta Braves this afternoon, but Washington’s Nationals kept fighting back, tying the game up at 3-3 in the third, after falling behind 3-0, and pulling within one with two in the fifth, after the visitors scored three in the top of the inning, 6-5, but it ended up being that sixth run, which scored, on a bases-loaded wild pitch by Gabe Klobosits, which ended up being the difference in the Nats’ seventh straight loss.
Espino vs Atlanta: Paolo Espino got just one inning of work in against the New York Mets in the series in Citi Field, before rain led to the game being postponed and finished as part of a doubleheader last week.
Since he didn’t go long in that game, Espino apparently pestered his manager to get another go of it over the next two days as Davey Martinez said last Thursday morning.
“He wanted to pitch today. He wanted to start the game yesterday, and I told him absolutely not,” Martinez laughed.
Espino did, however, get the nod for the third of three with the Braves in D.C. this afternoon, and the right-hander fell behind early, after tossing a scoreless first.
A leadoff walk by Adam Duvall and double to right by Joc Pederson started the second, and a groundout by Stephen Vogt brought Duvall in and moved Pederson to third, 1-0 after the top of the first.
Dansby Swanson hit his fourth home run of the series and 24th home run of the season out to center field on a 3-1 fastball with a runner on and one out in the top of the third, 3-0.
It was tied up at 3-3 after three, after the Nationals rallied against Braves’ starter Drew Smyly and Espino came back out with a scoreless, 15-pitch fourth, working around a two-out hit, but Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley hit back-to-back blasts in the first two at bats in the top of the fourth and it was 5-3 Atlanta in a hurry.
Paolo Espino’s Line: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 3 HRs, 77 P, 50 S, 8/1 GO/FO.
Smyly vs D.C.: Signed to a 1-year/$11M free agent deal this past winter, Drew Smyly took the mound today with a 4.41 ERA, 37 walks, 92 Ks, and a .258/.321/.462 line against in 102 IP on the season.
In three starts against the Nationals before today’s outing, the left-hander had a 2.76 ERA and a .238/.314/.381 line against in 16 1⁄3 IP.
Start No. 4 against the Braves’ NL East rivals began with two scoreless on 33 pitches, but he gave up back-to-back singles by Luis García and Adrián Sanchez in the bottom of the third, and a bunt by Paolo Espino with García on third, moved Sanchez into scoring position with Victor Robles at the plate, and Robles lined a 1-2 fastball over the left side of the infield, for an RBI single, 3-1 Braves, and 3-2 when Sanchez trotted home on a wild pitch.
Lane Thomas singled for the Nationals’ fourth hit of the third, which moved Robles over to third base, and Juan Soto brought him in with a game-tying sac fly to left field, 3-3.
Smyly stranded two in a 22-pitch fourth, which left him at 74 pitches, but with a one-out bases-loaded opportunity in the top of the fifth, the Braves went for a pinch hitter in the pitcher’s spot when it came up...
Drew Smyly’s Line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 74 P, 50 S, 2/0 GO/FO.
Robles on a Roll: Victor Robles started the series finale with the Braves 9 for 28 (.321 AVG) with four doubles, three RBIs, and five runs scored in the previous seven games, and he’d hit safely in six of the seven, with multi-hit efforts in three of those games.
Robles singled, driving in a run, in the third, and doubled in the sixth, giving him hits in seven of the last eight, and multi-hit games in four of eight.
Bullpen Action: Gabe Klobosits came on for the Nationals with the Braves up 5-3 after back-to-back home runs in the top of the fifth, and gave up two singles around a strikeout, then a walk that loaded the bases in front of pinch hitter Abraham Almonte, and a wild pitch got all the way to the backstop and allowed the sixth run for Atlanta to come in, 6-3.
Jesse Chavez came on for the Braves in the bottom of the fifth inning, and retired the first two hitters, before walking Juan Soto with two out, and giving up a double off the out-of-town scoreboard by Josh Bell that put two on in front of Carter Kieboom, who hit an oppo single to right to drive both runners in, 6-5.
Andres Machado retired the Braves in order in a 10-pitch top of the sixth.
Richard Rodríguez stranded a two-out double by Victor Robles in a scoreless bottom of the sixth inning.
Mason Thompson worked around an error by Adrián Sanchez in a scoreless, 15-pitch top of the seventh.
Tyler Matzek walked Juan Soto to start the Nationals’ seventh, but stranded him three outs later.
Ryne Harper retired the Braves in order in the top of the eighth.
Luke Jackson walked Luis García to start the bottom of the eighth, but erased the free pass with a 4-3 DP in the next AB (off Adrián Sanchez’s bat), and a swinging K ended a 12-pitch frame. Still 6-5 Braves.
Kyle Finnegan kept it a one-run game with a scoreless top of the ninth.
Will Smith walked Lane Thomas in front of Juan Soto with one out, but caught Soto looking with a 2-2 slider outside for out No. 2.
Josh Bell stepped in next, and got up 3-0 took ball four to put two on with two out in front of Carter Kieboom, who sent a one-hop grounder to third base that Austin Riley handled for the final out.
Final Score: 6-5 Braves
Nationals now 50-68