ATLANTA -- The Washington Nationals are 11 games under .500 since the end of June, and know they could have been knocked out of the NL playoff race by now.
Nationals manager Frank Robinson says there is just one problem: "You look and look and we're still there."
Washington beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 Tuesday night, earning a win Robinson said his team needed "very badly." The Nationals are 1½ games behind Philadelphia and Florida in the NL wild-card race.
"They're giving us a chance," Robinson said of the other wild-card contenders. "You know the old saying, don't let a guy hang around. If you have a chance to knock him out, knock him out. They've had a chance to knock us out."
The Nationals are still in the wild-card race despite losing records in July (9-18) and August (12-14).
Rookie Jason Bergmann earned his first major-league win, leading a Washington bullpen that pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings after starter John Patterson left early with stomach cramps.
"You've got to say thank you to the bullpen," said Jose Guillen, who was 2-for-3 with his 24th home run for Washington.
Bergmann (1-0) pitched two shutout innings in his second major-league appearance. He also scored the tying run in the fifth.
Hector Carrasco also pitched two shutout innings and Gary Majewski gave up two hits but no runs in 1 1/3 innings. Chad Cordero worked the ninth for his 42nd save in 46 opportunities.
The win moved Washington back above .500 in one-run games -- a season-long gauge of the team's success.
The Nationals are 27-26 in one-run games, but only 5-20 since leading the NL East by 5½ games on July 3.
"A lot of people in baseball are trying to figure out how we can win," Guillen said. "It's kind of tough. It drives people crazy. ... I don't know how we are still there. I think we should be in last place."
They are last in the division, but the Nationals are only six games behind the Braves.
"It's no big deal," said Atlanta's Andruw Jones, who was 0-for-4 but gave Washington a scare with a ninth-inning drive caught by Preston Wilson in front of the wall in center field. "It's one loss. We had opportunities, we didn't take advantage."
The Braves were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, leaving 13 runners on base.
"We left way too many guys on," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
Patterson was pulled in the third after consecutive walks to Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones forced in a run. Johnny Estrada led off the inning with a double and scored on Marcus Giles' single.
Patterson had his shortest outing in 25 starts this season.
"I thought I was going to throw up on the field," Patterson said. "That's a bad feeling."
The Braves loaded the bases again in the fourth, but Bergmann ended the threat by striking out Giles.
Bergmann gave up three hits and two walks.
The Nationals trailed 2-0 before Guillen led off the fourth inning with his homer. One pitch after Jorge Sosa (9-3) threw a changeup over his head, sending him sprawling to the dirt, Guillen lined the homer into the left-field seats.
Sosa gave up nine hits and three runs in five innings.
The Nationals took the lead in the fifth. Bergmann led off with a single for his first career hit and scored with one out on Jose Vidro's double to the wall in center. Vidro was thrown out trying to stretch the hit to a triple. Nick Johnson followed with another double to center that would have easily driven in Vidro from second.
After Sosa issued an intentional walk to Guillen, Wilson added a run-scoring single to give Washington a 3-2 lead.
|Players of the Game|
Nike Bryce Harper Nationals 2012 MLB Hair-itage T-Shirt - Red Shop Now!
|Brad Wilkerson, LF||5||0||2||0||0||0||1||.249|
|Jose Vidro, 2B||4||0||1||1||1||1||3||.262|
|Nick Johnson, 1B||5||1||1||0||0||1||4||.291|
|Jose Guillen, RF||3||1||2||1||1||0||1||.301|
|Preston Wilson, CF||4||0||1||1||0||2||1||.260|
|Brian Schneider, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.281|
|Vinny Castilla, 3B||4||0||2||0||0||1||1||.249|
|Cristian Guzman, SS||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.194|
|John Patterson, P||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.087|
|Jason Bergmann, P||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.500|
|Hector Carrasco, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.000|
|Gary Majewski, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Carlos Baerga, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.267|
|Chad Cordero, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-flied out for Majewski in the 9th|
|2B - Jose Vidro (20, Sosa), Nick Johnson (31, Sosa)|
|HR - Jose Guillen (24, Sosa)|
|RBI - Jose Vidro (31), Jose Guillen (68), Preston Wilson (70)|
|2-OUT RBI - Preston Wilson (32)|
|SB - Brad Wilkerson (6, 2nd base off Reitsma/Estrada)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|Jason Bergmann (W,1-0)||2||3||0||0||2||2||0||0.00|
|Hector Carrasco (H,9)||2||1||0||0||1||3||0||2.13|
|Gary Majewski (H,21)||1.1||2||0||0||0||0||0||2.91|
|Chad Cordero (S,42)||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||0.95|
|Pitches-Strikes - John Patterson 61-0, Jason Bergmann 49-0, Hector Carrasco 34-0, Gary Majewski 22-0, Chad Cordero 21-0|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Patterson 1-4, Jason Bergmann 3-1, Hector Carrasco 1-2, Gary Majewski 1-3|
|Batters Faced - John Patterson 13, Jason Bergmann 11, Hector Carrasco 8, Gary Majewski 6, Chad Cordero 4|
|Kelly Johnson, LF||4||1||0||0||1||1||3||.243|
|Marcus Giles, 2B||5||0||1||1||0||1||5||.303|
|Chipper Jones, 3B||4||0||1||0||1||1||0||.300|
|Andruw Jones, CF||4||0||0||1||1||0||1||.270|
|Adam LaRoche, 1B||3||0||1||0||2||0||3||.253|
|Ryan Langerhans, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.245|
|Jeff Francoeur, RF||4||0||1||0||1||1||3||.349|
|Johnny Estrada, C||4||1||2||0||0||1||2||.260|
|Wilson Betemit, SS||4||0||2||0||0||2||1||.295|
|Jorge Sosa, P||1||0||0||0||1||0||2||.050|
|Blaine Boyer, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Pete Orr, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.295|
|John Foster, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Dan Kolb, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Todd Hollandsworth, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.257|
|Chris Reitsma, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-struck out for Boyer in the 6th|
|b-singled for Kolb in the 8th|
|2B - Johnny Estrada (25, Patterson)|
|RBI - Marcus Giles (48), Andruw Jones (103)|
|2-OUT RBI - Marcus Giles (24), Andruw Jones (43)|
|CS - Jeff Francoeur (2, 2nd base by Patterson/Schneider)|
|Team LOB - 13|
|Outfield Assists - Andruw Jones 1|
|Jorge Sosa (L,9-3)||5||9||3||3||1||2||1||2.70|
|IBB - Guillen by Jorge Sosa|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jorge Sosa 86-0, Blaine Boyer 8-0, John Foster 14-0, Dan Kolb 14-0, Chris Reitsma 15-0|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jorge Sosa 4-8, Blaine Boyer 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Jorge Sosa 24, Blaine Boyer 3, John Foster 4, Dan Kolb 4, Chris Reitsma 4|
|Attendance - 20001|
|Game Time - 3:11|
|Temperature - 82|
|Umpires - Home - Larry Vanover, First Base - Randy Marsh, Second Base - Jim Wolf, Third Base - Sam Holbrook|