Having dropped six straight, including the first two of three in Atlanta, Georgia’s Truist Park, Washington’s Nationals fell behind 2-0 early in the series finale on Sunday, on a 421 ft. shot by Braves’ first baseman Matt Olson off Nats’ starter Trevor Williams, and with the score 2-1 in the fourth, leadoff and one-out singles and a walk for the home team loaded the bases in front of Michael Harris II, who popped out to short, and Ronald Acuña, Jr. who hit a ground ball to third for out No. 3 on a force at second.
Williams worked out of trouble in the fourth, stranded a two-out double in the fifth, and in the top of the sixth inning, Luis García doubled to start things going, took third base on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI single by Joey Meneses, 2-2. Jeimer Candelario followed with a two-run home run on a meaty first-pitch slider from Braves’ starter Bryce Elder, 4-2, then one out later, with Keibert Ruiz on base, Dom Smith hit a first-pitch fastball up in the zone from reliever Kirby Yates for another two-run shot and a 6-2 lead, which held up.
Getting a win in the finale meant a lot to the club, manager Davey Martinez told reporters in his post-game press conference.
“It’s always good, it’s always good for these young guys,” Martinez said of getting the W and snapping their six-game slide.
“Look, before we came into this series, we talked about how good the Atlanta Braves are,” he added, “... and we’ve got to be on top of our game, we can’t make mistakes.
“Today, we played a clean game and we played really well, so I’m proud of the guys.”
Alex Call robbed Harris II of a potential two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth, with a leaping catch at the top of the wall in left-center field, and the bullpen, with Carl Edwards, Jr. in the sixth and seventh, Kyle Finnegan in the eighth, and Hunter Harvey in the ninth (on six pitches) wrapped up the win.
“That was a big sigh of relief,” Martinez said of the catch by Call.
“Alex, he’s been playing good defense for us, and today he robbed a big home run, still kept that big lead for us, and like I said, it was just all around good baseball for us, and these guys play hard, they play hard, they don’t give in. We’ve played down a lot, but they keep coming back, and they keep coming back, and I love that about them.”
Getting the big hits from the middle of their lineup was another positive development.
“It was awesome,” Martinez said. “They’ve been doing it for the most part. Dom hadn’t shown the pop yet, but he’s been getting on base for us, knocking in some runs for us, Meneses the same, but he comes up with some big hits. And Candy? What I’ve known about him and what I’ve talked about, he’s a doubles guy that can occasionally run into one like he did today, but he’s playing really well, both sides of the ball.”
The sixth-year skipper also pointed to Williams’ work (5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 Ks), especially in the fourth, as another key to the victory.
“It was big,” Martinez said. “That was a big moment of the game right there, but he’s done it before. We got a lot of confidence in him. He gives up runs, but he doesn’t get rattled, gets back in it, and he keeps us in the ballgame. And today we were able to score some runs for him.”
“It was a good win. A good way to leave Atlanta. The boys played well.
“Trevor settled down and gave some good five innings and then [Edwards, Jr.], Finnegan and Harvey closed the game down, which was awesome, but today, Dom with the big two-run homer, Candy with a big two-run homer, they led the way.”