ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves understand the only way they can make a late-season push for a wild-card playoff spot: They have to score a lot of runs to make up for spotty pitching.
The plan worked Sunday as starting pitcher Oscar Villarreal lasted only three innings but the Braves had 16 hits, including three homers, to beat the Washington Nationals 13-6.
The Braves scored a combined 23 runs in winning the final two games of the three-game series with Washington, sparking reminders of a hot streak in mid-July when Atlanta scored 10 or more runs in five straight games.
"It's going to take something like that, it's going to take an explosion for a couple of weeks," said Adam LaRoche, who hit a three-run double in the Braves' six-run third inning.
Jeff Francoeur, Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones hit home runs and Brian McCann had four hits for Atlanta.
Despite their drop to fourth in the NL East, the Braves rank third in the league in runs and second in homers.
"That doesn't surprise me because you look right across the page at our pitching stats and they tell the story," said Chipper Jones, referring to the team's 10th-place NL ranking with a 4.64 ERA. "If you don't pitch, you're not going to play winning baseball."
The Braves won Sunday despite giving up 12 hits.
Villarreal, who has been pushing into service as a starter after spending most of the season in the bullpen, gave up six hits and four runs in three innings. Macay McBride (4-1) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.
Alfonso Soriano hit three doubles and a single for the Nationals and stole two bases.
"It means nothing, because we lost the game," Soriano said.
The Nationals left Atlanta with a 5.02 ERA -- last in the NL. They fell a season-high 20 games below .500 and have not won a series since winning two of three from San Francisco July 31-Aug. 2.
The Braves, coming off a 10-1 romp over the Nationals on Saturday, chased Washington's starting pitcher after 2 2/3 innings for the second straight day.
Billy Traber couldn't hold a 3-0, first-inning lead. He gave up two runs in the bottom of the first and was knocked out in the third.
Traber (3-3) gave up eight hits and eight runs, one day after Pedro Astacio gave up eight hits and six runs in 2 2/3 innings.
"I didn't pitch the greatest," Traber said. "The bottom line is we didn't make the pitches we were supposed to make. And when I say we, I mean me."
The Nationals scored three runs in the first on four hits, including doubles by Soriano, Daryle Ward and Ryan Church.
The Braves cut Washington's lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the first when Edgar Renteria doubled and scored on Chipper Jones' 21st homer, his third in the last four games.
Bernie Castro led off the third with a single, stole second and scored on Austin Kearns' single for a 4-2 lead.
The Braves answered with six runs in the bottom of the third, twice making Washington manager Frank Robinson pay for ordering intentional walks. The Braves hit four doubles in the inning, including a two-run drive by Edgar Renteria that tied the game.
With two outs, Traber gave an intentional walk to Francoeur, but McCann followed with a run-scoring double. Robinson then ordered an intentional walk to Matt Diaz, loading the bases, to set up the three-run double by LaRoche.
"I was trying to find a way for him to be successful," Robinson said of Traber.
Francoeur's three-run homer off Saul Rivera gave the Braves an 11-4 lead in the fourth inning.
Brian Schneider's two-run double in the fifth cut the lead to 11-6.
McCann led off Atlanta's seventh with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by LaRoche, giving him four RBI.
Andruw Jones hit his 30th homer in the eighth off Chad Cordero.
Soriano was picked off first base by Villarreal in the second inning. Soriano stole third base in the fourth and swiped second in the sixth. He has 34 steals this season. ... The Braves lead the season series with the Nationals 8-7, with a three-game series left at Washington Sept. 18-20. ... Andruw Jones reached 30 homers for the seventh time in his career.