Reporting Byron Kerr
The Atlanta Braves desperately needed a win. They made sure of it by getting to Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg early. Atlanta scored three runs before 28,817 fans could settle in their seats and held on to win, 7-4 at Nationals Park.
The Braves got to Strasburg early with four hits in the first inning and scored three runs. Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman with RBI hits and a rare error by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman plated the third run, Braves led 3-0.
The Nationals got one back against Hudson in the second. Danny Espinosa cranked a double off the wall down the line in right field and came in to score on a Wilson Ramos single one batter later, Atlanta’s lead was cut to 4-1.
Strasburg lasted four innings, giving up five hits, three runs,two earned, no walks and three strikeouts. He threw 75 pitches, 46 for strikes.
Uggla added to his impressive night with an RBI double off of Collin Balester in the fifth and Atlanta was up, 4-1.
After Balester was lifted, Atlanta continued the onslaught against Atahualpa Severino. Brian McCann’s two-run double made it 6-1, Braves.
The Nationals rallied in the sixth for two runs. RBI singles by Jayson Werth and Ramos made it 6-3, Braves.
Hudson left after 5 2/3 innings, scattering nine hits with three runs allowed, no walks and four strikeouts. He fired 86 pitches, 57 for strikes.
The Nationals added a run in the eighth off Jonny Venters courtesy Jayson Werth’s home run No.20 on the season. Werth crushed a leadoff 3-2 pitch over the left field wall and suddenly the Braves lead was whittled down to 6-4.
The Braves added a big insurance run off of Henry Rodriguez in the ninth on a botched run down by the Nationals. Michael Bourn led off with a single and stole second. After one out, Chipper Jones fielder’s choice caused a pair of run downs. First, the Nationals failed in an attempt to get Bourn between second and third. He eventually made it to third when the Nationals’ attention drifted to Jones.
After the Nationals caught Jones in a run down 1-6-5-3-4, Bourn raced home with the 7th run because no one was covering home plate.
The loss was only the Nationals fourth in the last 15 games. The Nationals have lost four of their last five against the Braves, and now trail in the season series, 9-7.