Atlanta at Washington

W: O. Villarreal (9-1) L: J. Bergmann (0-1)
HR: ATL - B. McCann (16)   WAS - None

Villarreal answers call, pitches Braves past Nationals

CBS wire reports

WASHINGTON -- Oscar Villarreal's first major league start in more than three years was so good, he earned another one.

Pressed into filling an open spot in Atlanta's rotation, Villarreal threw five innings of one-hit ball, Edgar Renteria stopped a long hitless skid with three singles and two RBIs, and the Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-0 Thursday.

"I had very good control," said Villarreal (9-1), the 12th starter used by the Braves in 2006. "My pitches were down. Everything I threw was down for five innings."

He gave up a second-inning single to Austin Kearns and a fifth-inning walk to Ryan Church -- and retired his other 15 hitters. He struck out four.

"He's kind of got a little deception," Kearns said. "He changes arm angles a little bit. He's coming at you with sinkers and sliders, and we just couldn't get anything going."

Not against the Braves' bullpen, either, as three relievers finished off the four-hitter for Atlanta's first shutout since May 1. Only one Nationals batter reached second base: Church doubled in the seventh.

Of Villarreal's 162 appearances in his major league career, 160 came in relief. The other starting assignment was for Arizona on April 8, 2003.

So which does he prefer?

"I like both," he said. "I like to pitch -- and I like my team to win."

Manager Bobby Cox called Villarreal's performance Thursday "pretty darn impressive" and, asked whether the pitcher will stay in the rotation, said: "For a little while longer, you bet."

Atlanta won also thanks to some key two-out hits and two tight plays at the plate in which Braves runners tested left fielder Alfonso Soriano's arm.

The first run came on Brian McCann's homer leading off the second against Jason Bergmann (0-1), who was making his second start in a row since being converted from relieving in the minors. He allowed four runs in six innings.

In the fifth, Matt Diaz doubled and advanced on a wild pitch, and Ryan Langerhans walked -- one of four free passes for Atlanta's No. 8 hitter -- and took second on Villarreal's sacrifice. Marcus Giles singled, and Diaz scored easily. Langerhans crossed the plate as catcher Brian Schneider couldn't get a handle on Soriano's throw.

Renteria then singled to left, and Soriano's throw beat Giles home, but plate umpire Ed Rapuano ruled that Giles slid around the tag. Nationals manager Frank Robinson came out for an extended, animated argument with Rapuano. The call stood.

"I thought we had him," Bergmann said.

Said Schneider: "When you look at the replay, his front leg never comes down, and I get his back leg."

And Giles' take?

"It's just a bang-bang play," he said. "The point is, the umpire called me safe, so I was safe."

The hit ended Renteria's drought of 24 at-bats without a hit, matching the longest slump of his career, from Sept. 7-15, 2004. Atlanta tacked on a run in the seventh on Renteria's second straight run-scoring hit.

And that was plenty of offense on this afternoon, thanks to Villarreal. A day earlier, when past NL Cy Young Award winner John Smoltz started for Atlanta, the Nationals scored nine runs. This time, zero.

"We've had some injuries in our starting rotation, and Oscar stepped up," Giles said. "He had his things going all day. He had a command of all pitches, and I think he had the other hitters thinking a lot."


Braves CF Andruw Jones was out of the starting lineup for a third straight game with a balky left knee. Cox said he expects Jones to be back in the lineup Friday at Florida. ... After the game, the Nationals put LHP Micah Bowie on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 10, with a strained upper back muscle. Washington probably will replace him on the roster Friday with 2B Jose Vidro (DL, left hamstring), assuming he made it through a final rehab appearance at Double-A Harrisburg on Thursday night OK.

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

E. Renteria
AB 5
R 0
H 3
HR 0

O. Villarreal
IP 5.0
H 1
ER 0
BB 1
K 4

Related Video

Atlanta Braves
Marcus Giles, 2B4112011 .264
Edgar Renteria, SS5032001 .300
Chipper Jones, 3B5000015 .328
Brian McCann, C4111000 .343
Adam LaRoche, 1B3000110 .270
Jeff Francoeur, RF4000001 .256
Matt Diaz, LF4120011 .347
Ryan Langerhans, CF0200401 .241
Oscar Villarreal, P1000002 .000
    Chad Paronto, P0000000 .000
   a- Pete Orr, PH1000001 .218
    Danys Baez, P0000000 .000
   b- Tony Pena, PH1000001 .050
    Bob Wickman, P0000000 .000
a-lined out for Paronto in the 7th
b-hit into fielder's choice for Baez in the 9th
2B - Matt Diaz (11, Bergmann)
HR - Brian McCann (16, Bergmann)
SH - Oscar Villarreal (1)
RBI - Marcus Giles 2 (45), Edgar Renteria 2 (48), Brian McCann (59)
2-OUT RBI - Marcus Giles 2 (21), Edgar Renteria 2 (16)
CS - Matt Diaz (4, 2nd base by Bergmann/Schneider)
Team LOB - 7
Atlanta Braves
Oscar Villarreal (W,9-1) 5100140 4.13
Chad Paronto 1100000 2.40
Danys Baez 2200000 4.03
Bob Wickman 1000020 3.16
Pitches-Strikes - Oscar Villarreal 65-46, Chad Paronto 14-9, Danys Baez 20-12, Bob Wickman 11-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Oscar Villarreal 6-5, Chad Paronto 1-2, Danys Baez 3-3, Bob Wickman 1-0
Batters Faced - Oscar Villarreal 17, Chad Paronto 4, Danys Baez 8, Bob Wickman 3
Washington Nationals
Alfonso Soriano, LF4000011 .289
Felipe Lopez, SS4010021 .270
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4000011 .284
Nick Johnson, 1B4000000 .287
Austin Kearns, RF4010010 .264
Ryan Church, CF2010101 .254
    Travis Hughes, P0000000 .000
Brian Schneider, C3000013 .237
Bernie Castro, 2B3000001 .261
Jason Bergmann, P1000000 .000
   a- Marlon Anderson, PH1000000 .267
    Chris Schroder, P0000000 .000
    Alex Escobar, CF1010000 .333
a-fouled out for Bergmann in the 6th
2B - Ryan Church (9, Baez)
Team LOB - 5
Washington Nationals
Jason Bergmann (L,0-1) 6544221 7.31
Chris Schroder 1111100 6.75
Travis Hughes 2100220 5.63
HBP - Giles (by Chris Schroder)
WP - Jason Bergmann (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Jason Bergmann 96-55, Chris Schroder 28-18, Travis Hughes 30-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jason Bergmann 8-7, Chris Schroder 1-2, Travis Hughes 2-2
Batters Faced - Jason Bergmann 24, Chris Schroder 6, Travis Hughes 9
Game Information
Attendance - 29007
Game Time - 2:34
Temperature - 81
Umpires - Home - Ed Rapuano, First Base - Tony Randazzo, Second Base - Jim Wolf, Third Base - Joe West