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Washington Nationals drop 9th straight — overall and to Atlanta Braves, 6-3 final...

Nationals drop 9th in a row overall and to their NL East rival, 6-3 final for the Braves....

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Espino vs Atlanta Rd. 2:

Paolo Espino gave up two of the four runs the Braves scored in a 4-3 win over Washington in Atlanta last week, with six hits and a walk allowed in a 65-pitch, four-inning outing, in his 6th start since moving from the bullpen into the Nationals’ starting rotation.

It was the fourth time in six outings he didn’t make it through the fifth inning, something his manager, Davey Martinez, said would change as he builds up endurance.

“The big thing that we talked a lot about,” Martinez said early in the transition, “... is that he has to get over that — just that four-inning, five-inning [threshold], and I always told him, hey look, if you get an opportunity it’s six, seven-plus, you got to get yourself to that, and he’s learned how to try to get himself to that point.”

Espino’s averaged 4 13 innings per start. This time out, he tossed two scoreless to start, on 31 pitches, but Robinson Canó doubled to start the third, took third base on a groundout, and stayed there when Dansby Swanson reached on a blown call at first, with the umpire ruling Josh Bell came off the bag when he didn’t appear to, and Matt Olson stepped in next and hit a 1-0 changeup to left to make it 3-0 Braves early.

Austin Riley hit a 3-1 fastball to center in the next at-bat, for HR No. 27 of his 2022 campaign, and a 4-0 advantage. 358 feet for Olson. 418 for Riley.

Espino worked around two singles in a 16-pitch fourth, then came out in the fifth after the Nationals scored two runs, and retired the Braves in order in a seven-pitch frame that left him at 79 total. But a one-out hit-by-pitch, on his 87th overall pitch in the sixth ended his outing...

Paolo Espino’s Line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 87 P, 63 S, 8/4 GO/FO.

Fried vs D.C. - Round 3:

Max Fried took an L in April, giving up three runs, two earned, on seven hits in 5 13 IP in a 3-1 loss to the Nationals in Atlanta, then the Braves’ lefty went unbeaten in his next 15 turns in the rotation, putting up a 2.15 ERA, a 2.54 FIP, 16 walks, 91 strikeouts, and a .219/.253/.306 line against in 96 13 IP over that stretch, with 5 23 of those innings against Washington back on June 14th in D.C., when he gave up six hits and four runs in a 10-4 win.

Back in the nation’s capital today, Fried was coming off his first loss since April, in a five-inning, five-hit, five-walk, two-run start in a 3-1 loss to the the New York Mets, and he got a 4-0 lead to work with after back-to-back, 13-pitch frames in the bottom of the first and the second.

Fried retired the Nationals in order in a 10-pitch bottom of the third, but Juan Soto singled with one out in the fourth, and scored on a Josh Bell triple to left, when the ball bounced a bit in the corner and got away from Braves’ outfielder Eddie Rosario, 4-1, and 4-2 when Bell scored on an RBI groundout by Keibert Ruiz.

César Hernández, Juan Soto, and Josh Bell hit back-to-back-to-back singles off Fried, with one out in the sixth, with Bell’s driving Hernández in to make it a 4-3 game, before Keibert Ruiz hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 DP.

It was 6-3 in the visitor’s favor when Fried retired the side in order in the seventh, and he was done for the day after throwing seven strong on 94 pitches.

Max Fried’s Line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 94 P, 60 S, 7/2 GO/FO.

Soto’s Streak:

Heard any good Juan Soto rumors lately? We’re focused on the game here, you can read a story about the other Soto news HERE. But going into today’s game, Soto, who had his 16-game hit streak come to an end last night, still had on-base streak going, having, “reached base safely in a career-high 24 straight games, posting a .515 on-base percentage (24 H, 27 BB) along the way,” as the Nationals highlighted in their pregame notes, adding that the on-base streak, “is the longest active streak in baseball.”

Soto extended it with a one-out single in the fourth, and he scored the Nationals’ first run of the game on a Josh Bell triple in the at-bat that followed.

Bullpen Action:

Steve Cishek took over for Paolo Espino with a runner on and one out in the top of the sixth, and the right-handed reliever retired two to strand the inherited baserunner and keep it a 4-2 game in the Braves’ favor.

Hunter Harvey gave up a leadoff walk to Michael Harris II, RBI double by Dansby Swanson, and a two-out RBI single by Travis d’Arnaud in the top of the seventh as the Braves added two runs, 6-3, a half-inning after the Nationals made it a one-run game.

Jordan Weems retired the Braves in order in the top of the eighth to keep it a three-run game.

Rain interrupted the game before the bottom of the eighth started... and 1 hour and 49 minutes later, they picked things up.

Jesse Chavez tossed a quick, 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth.

Andres Machado kept it a three-run game with a scoreless top of the ninth, and the Braves turned to Kenley Jansen in the bottom of the inning and he retired the side in order to end things. Final Score: 6-3 Braves.

Nationals now 30-63