The Nationals were much better defensively and Livan Hernandez did his job on opening day 2011, but Atlanta has Derek Lowe and Jason Heyward. They did their part in guiding the Braves to a 2-0 victory at Nationals Park before an announced 39,055, on a cold and drizzly end of March lid lifter.
The Braves scored two runs in the first inning on back-to-back hits from Chipper Jones and Brian McCann. Jones doubled with two outs and McCann followed with a clean single to give Atlanta a 1-nothing advantage.
Jason Heyward crushed a solo shot over the right center field fence to lead off the second frame, giving the Braves a 2-run head start.
The Nationals got a man to second base with less than two outs in each of the first two innings, but Braves starter Derek Lowe was able to get two outs each time to avoid trouble.
Rick Ankiel came close to a solo shot in the second inning, driving a Derek Lowe pitch to the right center field wall before Heyward settled under it for the out.
New Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche made a great play on defense to begin the fourth inning, diving to his right to take a base hit away from Brian McCann. Last season, Adam Dunn probably wouldn’t have been able to stop that ball and McCann would have had a single. That play signified why they signed LaRoche, at least on the defensive side.
Lowe was outstanding in getting the win. Lowe tossed 5 and 2/3rds inninmgs of shutout ball, striking out six batters and walking none. McCann ended up with two hits and an RBI. Jones also with two hits and a run scored.
The Nats managed only five hits against Atlanta pitching and got as far as second base only twice after the second inning.
Danny Espinosa cranked the Nationals first extra base hit of the season, a double with one out in the 7th inning. He ended up with two hits. Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman also had singles in the first inning. Ian Desmond struggled in the leadoff slot, striking out in his first two at-bats, and going 0-4.
The Nationals and Braves take Friday off and return Saturday at 1:05pm with a 12:30pm pregame with Charlie and Dave on Sports Radio 106.7 The Fan. Tommy Hanson opposes the Nats John Lannan.