Nationals’ Trea Turner, Max Scherzer Dominate Braves

by Brian Tinsman

ATLANTA — Max Scherzer watches Trea Turner and sees a 10-year veteran, not a rookie.

“This guy can absolutely do everything, and with the speed. I’ve never seen anybody have this much speed and this much power from that frame,” Scherzer said. “It’s unbelievable what he does.”

Turner homered, had four hits and scored four runs, Scherzer won his fifth straight decision and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 7-2 on Friday night.

Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon each added two RBIs.

The Nationals, seeking their third NL East title in five years, have won 13 of 17. Their magic number to clinch the division is six with 15 games remaining.

Scherzer (17-7) gave up seven hits, two runs, two walks and struck out eight in seven innings. The Washington ace is 12-3 with a 2.10 ERA in his last 20 starts.

“We were able to put up five runs in the first two innings,” Scherzer said. “Trea’s got his fingers all over it again. And then the defense tonight — man, they made some great plays.”

John Gant (1-4) allowed six hits, five runs and three walks in 1 2/3 innings. Appearing in his 16th game with seven starts, Gant had his ERA rise 84 points to 5.24.

The Nationals took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Rendon’s two-run single and went up 5-0 in the second on Turner’s ninth homer and Murphy’s RBI double.

Atlanta made it 5-1 in the bottom of the second on Tyler Flowers’ RBI single. Flowers cut the lead to 5-2 in the sixth with a sacrifice fly.

Turner stole second and third in the seventh and scored on Murphy’s sacrifice fly. Turner’s 26th stolen base dropped Flowers, the Atlanta catcher, to 1 for 56 this season on caught stealing attempts.

Turner added a ground-rule double and scored in the ninth on Jayson Werth’s single, becoming the first player since Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte on June 12, 2013, to have four hits, four runs and two stolen bases in a game.

In 59 career at-bats against the Braves, Turner is hitting .407 with four homers, 13 RBIs and four stolen bases.

“His hands work about as good as anybody you see,” interim Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “We can’t solve him, that’s for sure. He’s energetic. He’s making them go. He’s refreshing to watch.”

Murphy has 46 doubles, most in the majors. His 104 RBIs rank second in the NL.

Blake Treinen pitched the eighth and Shawn Kelley the ninth for the Nationals.

Washington improved to 15-2 against the NL-worst Braves this year and 36-11 in the series since June 21, 2014.

BAKER IS BACK

Washington manager Dusty Baker returned after a one-game absence due a death in his family. He arrived at Turner Field about three hours before the game.

PROUD PARENTS

Snitker told 1B Freddie Freeman to stay home and rest after his wife, Chelsea, gave birth to their first child, a son, on Thursday. Freeman is expected to be back in the lineup on Saturday. Rookie Blake Lalli took his place and went 0 for 4. … Nationals SS Danny Espinosa wasn’t in the lineup after his wife, Sara, gave birth to a boy in California. Espinosa arrived during the fifth inning. Stephen Drew took his place and went 1 for 3 with one run scored.

ON APPEAL

Braves RHP Jose Ramirez filed an appeal after receiving a three-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for throwing a pitch near the head of Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez on Wednesday. Both teams’ benches emptied, but the situation settled down after players from both teams crowded around Fernandez, Ramirez and Flowers. Ramirez was ejected from the game.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves 2B Jace Peterson was scratched from the lineup with a left ankle sprain. Gordon Beckham took his place and went 1 for 4. … Braves OF Mallex Smith was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list after missing 76 games with a broken left thumb. Smith had a pinch-hit single in the seventh. … Atlanta RHP Mike Foltynewicz is walking without much discomfort and could make a start next week. He was injured last Monday when a liner bounced off his calf.

CENTRAL FLORIDA-BOUND

The Braves are moving their high Single-A affiliate from Zebulon, North Carolina to Kissimmee, Florida before the start of next season.

UP NEXT

Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez (11-9) will make his 30th start. He’s 4-8 with a 4.70 ERA in 16 career starts against Atlanta.

Braves: RHP Josh Collmenter, acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs earlier this week, will make his first start since June 7, 2015 for Arizona. He went 1-0 with a 4.84 ERA in 15 games for the Diamondbacks this year before they released him in August.

 

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(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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