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Atlanta at Washington

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Atlanta «000400000480
Washington000000000060

Jones ties franchise record as Braves cruise past Nats

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- Giving up a solo shot to Andruw Jones is one thing. He is, after all, a leading MVP candidate who tied an Atlanta Braves record with his 47th homer.

Giving up a three-run drive on a 2-0 pitch to Atlanta's No. 8 hitter, rookie Brian McCann, is quite another, even if he knew what to look for.

Washington's Livan Hernandez allowed both of those big hits, which were plenty to propel the Braves to a 4-0 victory over the Nationals on Sunday behind eight shutout innings from Jorge Sosa and one homer-robbing catch by Jeff Francoeur.

The rookie outfielder leaped and reached over the wall in right to bring back Cristian Guzman's shot with a runner on in the fifth.

"It kind takes a little air out of you," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "That certainly would have been a big moment there for us."

Instead, it was Jones and McCann who cleared the right-field fence in the fourth off Hernandez (15-7) who has lost 11 straight regular-season decisions against Atlanta.

"We just take advantage when he makes mistakes," Jones said.

Hernandez started Jones off with a looping 61 mph offering, then followed it with a pitch at 64 mph for a called strike.

The right-hander next threw consecutive pitches at 87 mph, and the second was pounded by Jones, who added to his majors-high homer total and matched Eddie Mathews (1953) and Hank Aaron (1971) for most in a season by a Braves player.

"It is good to be out there with some numbers like that," said Jones, who has been fighting the flu.

"You know," Hernandez said, "Andruw's hot."

Particularly against the Nationals, going 5-for-12 with three homers and seven RBI in the teams' past three games.

"We just need to be smart enough to know which players to pitch around. Frank is the manager, and he needs to step up and make those moves," outfielder Jose Guillen said. "But I'm not a manager, I'm not a pitching coach, I'm not a pitcher. To me, there's no reason to be pitching to Andruw right now, the way he's been swinging."

An out after Jones connected, three members of Atlanta's impressive rookie contingent helped pad the lead. Francoeur doubled, Ryan Langerhans walked, and McCann hit his fifth homer, making it 4-0.

"I think the guy on second base" -- Francoeur -- "gave him the sign," Hernandez said.

Sosa (11-3) made it stand up, improving to 8-0 with a 1.71 ERA in road starts this season, thanks in part to the big assist from Francoeur.

After the catch, Jones -- a seven-time Gold Glove winner -- jogged over from his spot in center field to shake Francoeur's hand.

"That turned the ballgame around," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

Sosa scattered six hits, didn't walk a batter, and only allowed two runners as far as second base. He did it by throwing 74 of his 99 pitches for strikes. He started off 24 of 29 batters with a strike.

"He kept us off-balance," Brad Wilkerson said. "He didn't really give up too many hard-hit balls."

It had to be deflating loss for the Nationals, and not just because it was their fourth setback in five games as they try to stay in the NL wild-card race.

This defeat came a day after Washington overcame a 6-2 deficit to beat Atlanta 8-6. And it came with All-Star and staff ace Hernandez on the mound. While he did allow the bullpen some much-needed rest by lasting eight innings, he also took a loss by giving up the four runs and seven hits.

"We just don't seem to be able to put two games together," Robinson said. "Doesn't seem like we have the ability to do it."

Now this is what the Nationals have to look forward to in Sunday's series finale: Rookie reliever Jason Bergmann will make his first major league start as part of a bullpen-relay strategy against NL East leader Atlanta and John Smoltz.

"It's going to be a tough task," Wilkerson said.

Notes

  • The Braves have won seven of nine games.
  • Hernandez's last regular-season victory over Atlanta came on Aug. 18, 2000, for San Francisco. He's 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA against the Braves in the postseason, though.
  • Only Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter has a better road record (12-0) than Sosa in 2005.
 
Copyright 2014 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.
 
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Adam LaRoche greets Andruw Jones at the plate after the MVP candidate tied the franchise record.  (AP)
Adam LaRoche greets Andruw Jones at the plate after the MVP candidate tied the franchise record. (AP)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

J. Sosa
IP 8.0
H 6
ER 0
BB 0
K 3
Atlanta

B. McCann
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
 
Atlanta Braves
Rafael Furcal, SS5010012 .280
Marcus Giles, 2B4000011 .299
Chipper Jones, 3B4010000 .307
Andruw Jones, CF3121100 .274
Adam LaRoche, 1B4000003 .245
Jeff Francoeur, RF3110101 .332
Ryan Langerhans, LF3110112 .253
Brian McCann, C3113000 .262
Jorge Sosa, P3010021 .120
   a- Julio Franco, PH1000011 .281
    Kyle Farnsworth, P0000000 .000
Totals334843611 
a-struck out for Sosa in the 9th
Batting
2B - Chipper Jones (28, Hernandez), Jeff Francoeur (18, Hernandez)
HR - Andruw Jones (47, Hernandez), Brian McCann (5, Hernandez)
SH - Brian McCann (4)
RBI - Andruw Jones (119), Brian McCann 3 (18)
2-OUT RBI - Brian McCann 3 (4)
CS - Rafael Furcal (8, 2nd base by Hernandez/Schneider)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Jones-Giles-LaRoche
Atlanta Braves
Jorge Sosa (W,11-3) 8600030 2.55
Kyle Farnsworth 1000000 1.96
Pitches-Strikes - Jorge Sosa 99-74, Kyle Farnsworth 8-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jorge Sosa 9-11
Batters Faced - Jorge Sosa 29, Kyle Farnsworth 3
Washington Nationals
Brad Wilkerson, 1B4000012 .252
Deivi Cruz, 2B4020000 .269
Jose Guillen, RF4010003 .297
Preston Wilson, CF4000002 .253
Brian Schneider, C4000010 .270
Vinny Castilla, 3B3000000 .248
Ryan Church, LF3020000 .300
Cristian Guzman, SS3000002 .202
Livan Hernandez, P1010000 .257
   a- Brandon Watson, PH1000010 .222
    Joey Eischen, P0000000 .333
    Hector Carrasco, P0000000 .000
Totals31060039 
a-struck out for Hernandez in the 8th
Batting
SH - Livan Hernandez (12)
Team LOB - 5
Washington Nationals
Livan Hernandez (L,15-7) 8744352 3.83
Joey Eischen 0.1100000 3.30
Hector Carrasco 0.2000010 2.04
IBB - A. Jones by Livan Hernandez
Pitches-Strikes - Livan Hernandez 105-61, Joey Eischen 6-4, Hector Carrasco 9-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Livan Hernandez 7-11, Joey Eischen 1-0
Batters Faced - Livan Hernandez 33, Joey Eischen 2, Hector Carrasco 2
Game Information
Attendance - 44083
Game Time - 2:15
Temperature - 83
Umpires - Home - Eric Cooper, First Base - Field Culbreth, Second Base - Marvin Hudson, Third Base - Larry Young