Atlanta at Washington

W: L. Ayala (3-3) L: R. Colon (0-2)
S: C. Cordero (13)
HR: ATL - J. Franco (2)   WAS - None

Nationals 5, Braves 4

CBS wire reports

WASHINGTON -- Plugging in parts as they go, the Washington Nationals are finding ways to win the close ones and stay right near the top of the NL East.

They did it again Tuesday night, coming back against the Atlanta Braves' bullpen after starter Mike Hampton left with tightness in his pitching arm. Washington won 5-4 for its third straight victory -- each by a single run.

Nick Johnson hit a go-ahead two-run double in the seventh inning, starter John Patterson came off the disabled list to pitch five innings of one-run ball, and a trio of relievers made a late lead hold up, if barely.

"We have to keep grinding," said Johnson, one of five Nationals with at least two hits.

Cleanup hitter Jose Guillen went 3-for-4 with an RBI, and Vinny Castilla added two singles. They're supposed to produce the big hits. But pinch-hitter Ryan Church came on to go 2-for-2 with a double, and reserve catcher Gary Bennett contributed two hits and drove in a run. Those are just the kind of everyone-chips-in performance needed on a team that has 10 players on the disabled list.

The Nationals rallied from a 3-0 deficit with two runs in the sixth and three in the seventh. Hampton shut out Washington for four innings, allowing five singles.

"It's just not totally healthy and we're just being more cautious than anything," Hampton said. "We were just playing it safe instead of playing for one start."

Patterson, who had been out because of back spasms, gave up a run in the first inning on a single, two walks, a wild pitch, a stolen base (Rafael Furcal's NL-leading 20th) and an RBI groundout by Chipper Jones on a ball first baseman Johnson knocked down, preventing a likely extra-base hit.

Patterson then retired 13 straight batters before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fifth. Atlanta stretched its lead to 3-0 in the sixth off relievers C.J. Nitkowski and T.J. Tucker. But that was all the Braves would get until, trailing 5-3, Julio Franco hit a solo homer off closer Chad Cordero leading off the ninth.

Cordero then gave up consecutive singles. But after getting Brian Jordan to ground into a fielder's choice, leaving men on first and third with one out, Cordero struck out pinch-hitter Brayan Pena and Furcal to record his 13th save.

"My heart was racing, man," said Cordero, who pitched for a fourth straight day. "I just wish I didn't put myself and the team in those kind of spots."

Before he finished, Luis Ayala (3-3) threw a 1-2-3 seventh to earn the win, and Gary Majewski stretched his scoreless string to 16 innings in the eighth.

It's that sort of strong bullpen work that gives the Nationals a chance in any tight game.

They're 11-6 in one-run games; they trailed in 17 of their 27 wins.

"I don't think the team is out of a ballgame as long as the pitching keeps us in our range of scoring," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "We hit the top bar tonight when we scored five. But it was enough -- it was enough to win."

Washington had gone seven games in a row without scoring more than three runs, and Tuesday was just the second time in the team's last 14 games that it has topped that number.

After going 4-15 against the Braves as the Montreal Expos in 2004, Washington is now 5-2 against Atlanta in 2005. And the Nationals are 1½ games behind division leaders Atlanta and Florida, with their next five games at home against those clubs.

"We have a chance to step up," Patterson said, "and kind of show these guys we're here."

Church led off the seventh with a single off loser Roman Colon (0-2) and moved to second when Brad Wilkerson's possible double-play grounder was bobbled by second baseman Marcus Giles, who threw to first for the easy out.

Jamey Carroll hit a sinking liner to right field, and Jordan tried to make a diving catch but couldn't come up with it. That brought out reliever Kevin Gryboski, whose second -- and last -- pitch of the night was hit by Guillen for an RBI single to tie the game at 3. With one out and runners at first and second, lefty John Foster came in to face Johnson, who delivered his two-run double.

It was the kind of clutch hitting the Braves haven't been getting lately, as they've lost four of five games.

"When we get good pitches to hit, we're not hitting them the way we should be," Adam LaRoche said. "That's all of us."


Seven groups submitted bids Tuesday to try to buy the Nationals, a high-ranking baseball official who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Associated Press. Nine groups had paid $100,000 deposits required to enter the bidding process. The commissioner's office will meet internally in the next week or two to go over the bids, the source said. Baseball's other 29 teams bought the then-Expos in 2002 for $120 million, and the sale price now is expected to top $300 million. ... Braves OF Raul Mondesi was designated for assignment, a move that could signal the end of his major league career. That move made room for Hampton to come off the DL.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Players of the Game

J. Guillen
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 0

J. Franco
AB 2
R 1
H 2
HR 1

Related Video

Atlanta Braves
Rafael Furcal, SS5110022 .229
Marcus Giles, 2B2000200 .283
Kelly Johnson, LF3100112 .000
Chipper Jones, 3B4112001 .317
Adam LaRoche, 1B1000110 .243
   a- Julio Franco, PH-1B2122000 .229
Andruw Jones, CF4010013 .262
Johnny Estrada, C4010000 .272
    Wilson Betemit, PR0000000 .275
Brian Jordan, RF4000001 .238
Mike Hampton, P1000010 .318
   b- Pete Orr, PH1000000 .281
    Adam Bernero, P00000001.000
   c- Ryan Langerhans, PH1000000 .188
    Roman Colon, P0000000 .000
    Kevin Gryboski, P0000000 .000
    John Foster, P0000000 .000
    Jorge Sosa, P0000000 .000
   d- Brayan Pena, PH1000012 .333
a-singled for LaRoche in the 6th
b-flied out for Hampton in the 5th
c-grounded out for Bernero in the 7th
d-struck out for Sosa in the 9th
2B - Chipper Jones (15, Nitkowski)
HR - Julio Franco (2, C. Cordero)
RBI - Chipper Jones 2 (26), Julio Franco 2 (7)
2-OUT RBI - Chipper Jones (11), Julio Franco (4)
SB - Rafael Furcal (20, 2nd base off Patterson/Bennett)
Team LOB - 6
DP - Furcal-Giles-LaRoche, Furcal-LaRoche, Furcal-Giles-Franco
Atlanta Braves
Mike Hampton 4500210 1.83
Adam Bernero 2322120 4.03
Roman Colon (H,2; L,0-2) 0.1222000 8.62
Kevin Gryboski (BS,1)0111000 1.93
John Foster0100000 0.00
Jorge Sosa 1.2100110 2.86
IBB - Wilkerson by Jorge Sosa
Pitches-Strikes - Mike Hampton 59-37, Adam Bernero 22-13, Roman Colon 12-6, Kevin Gryboski 2-1, John Foster 6-3, Jorge Sosa 23-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike Hampton 4-5, Adam Bernero 2-1, Roman Colon 1-0, Jorge Sosa 3-1
Batters Faced - Mike Hampton 17, Adam Bernero 9, Roman Colon 3, Kevin Gryboski 1, John Foster 1, Jorge Sosa 7
Washington Nationals
Brad Wilkerson, CF3000210 .282
Jamey Carroll, 2B4110103 .252
Jose Guillen, RF4231001 .305
Nick Johnson, 1B3122102 .322
Vinny Castilla, 3B4020002 .289
Marlon Byrd, LF4010002 .346
    Gary Majewski, P0000000 .000
    Chad Cordero, P0000000 .000
Gary Bennett, C4021011 .250
Cristian Guzman, SS4000003 .183
John Patterson, P1000010 .077
   a- Tony Blanco, PH1000010 .241
    C.J. Nitkowski, P0000000 .000
    T.J. Tucker, P0000000 .000
    Luis Ayala, P0000000 .000
   b- Ryan Church, PH-LF2120000 .301
a-struck out for Patterson in the 5th
b-singled for Ayala in the 7th
2B - Nick Johnson (13, Foster), Ryan Church (5, Sosa)
RBI - Jose Guillen (29), Nick Johnson 2 (30), Gary Bennett (8)
2-OUT RBI - Gary Bennett (3)
Team LOB - 9
Washington Nationals
John Patterson 5111230 2.85
C.J. Nitkowski 0.2122100 27.00
T.J. Tucker 0.1100000 0.00
Luis Ayala (W,3-3) 1000000 2.64
Gary Majewski (H,8) 1000120 1.14
Chad Cordero (S,13) 1311021 1.44
WP - John Patterson (2)
Pitches-Strikes - John Patterson 64-44, C.J. Nitkowski 10-4, T.J. Tucker 4-3, Luis Ayala 8-6, Gary Majewski 15-8, Chad Cordero 24-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Patterson 7-5, C.J. Nitkowski 2-0, T.J. Tucker 1-0, Luis Ayala 2-1, Gary Majewski 1-0, Chad Cordero 1-0
Batters Faced - John Patterson 18, C.J. Nitkowski 4, T.J. Tucker 2, Luis Ayala 3, Gary Majewski 4, Chad Cordero 6
Game Information
Attendance - 29512
Game Time - 2:51
Temperature - 74
Umpires - Home - Tony Randazzo, First Base - Ed Montague, Second Base - Jerry Layne, Third Base - Tom Hallion