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Nats not only lead in game, but snap six-game losing streak

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- The Washington Nationals took a lead during a game -- and won it, too.

Ronnie Belliard hit a go-ahead single in the eighth inning off John Smoltz and Washington beat the Atlanta Braves 2-0 Thursday night to stop a six-game losing streak.

"The first thing I heard right next to my ear was Ryan Church saying, 'We got a lead!' " Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "There was still a lot of game left, but that was refreshing to hear."

Ryan Zimmerman also hit an RBI single for the Nationals (2-8), who had never before led a game this year at the time a pitch was thrown. Their only previous win was April 4, when Dmitri Young hit a game-ending single that capped a three-run ninth inning in a 7-6 victory over visiting Florida.

"I try to pitch to the situation, but this team was not going to keep losing the way it was losing," Smoltz said. "Tonight they bowed their necks and won a game that could start something good for them."

Washington has been outscored 61-23 this season and hasn't scored during the first three innings of any game.

"It was great," Church said. "We stuck together and just kept grinding it out."

Jason Bergmann struck out a career-high eight in six innings, allowing just one hit -- a leadoff double in the fourth by Andruw Jones. Bergmann, who walked four, lasted just 3 2/3 innings against Arizona in his previous start.

"That felt good for the team," Bergmann said. "That's something we needed, facing a guy, a legend, John Smoltz. I want to say I needed it a lot for myself confidence-wise, but I think the team needed it more than me."

Jesus Colome (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh, Jon Rauch had a 1-2-3 eighth and Chad Cordero finished the two-hitter for his first save. Chipper Jones singled with one out in the ninth and Andruw Jones walked. After Brian McCann took a called third strike, Jeff Francoeur loaded the bases for Scott Thorman, who struck out.

Cordero was so excited that he almost tripped when he jumped to celebrate and came down awkwardly on right shoe cleat.

"If I had blown this, it would have been devastating to me and to the whole team," Cordero said. "Out in the bullpen, we were all real excited. I was pumped up because I thought I'd have a chance to close a game for once."

Smoltz (1-1) gave up four hits and four walks -- two intentional -- in eight innings, striking out six. He is 16-9 against the Nationals/Expos in 35 starts.

Atlanta had won its previous four games.

The game was scoreless when Smoltz hit Chris Snelling with a pitch leading off the eighth. Snelling was sacrificed to second and, after a walk to Felipe Lopez, took third on a wild pitch. Belliard and Zimmerman followed with consecutive singles.

That snapped a streak of 25 consecutive scoreless innings for the Braves' starters.

"You know, sooner or later, things are going to go their way," Smoltz said. "I mean, I hit him right on the toe, but even then I thought I would be fine. Then I threw the wild pitch. That made it pretty tough. Then I had to be perfect."

Belliard, whom Acta moved from lower in the batting order to the No. 2 spot, has a .406 average with three RBI in 32 at-bats.

"We've been hitting the ball real hard all over the place and haven't had any luck," Belliard said. "I'm always going to right field, no matter what the situation."

Notes

  • Smoltz has 2,795 strikeouts, three behind Cy Young for 18th place.
  • The last time Smoltz went eight innings and took a loss was June 1, 2005, against the Angels.
  • Belliard finished 5-for-11 in the series.
  • Atlanta hadn't been shut out since last Sept. 6 when they lost 8-0 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Mets.
  • The Nationals recalled RHP Saul Rivera from Triple-A Columbus after placing LHP Ray King on the 15-day DL because of shoulder tendinitis.
 
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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Ronnie Belliard's RBI in the eighth snaps a streak of 25 scoreless innings in a row for Atlanta starters.  (AP)
Ronnie Belliard's RBI in the eighth snaps a streak of 25 scoreless innings in a row for Atlanta starters. (AP)

Players of the Game
Washington

J. Bergmann
IP 6.0
H 1
ER 0
BB 4
K 8
Atlanta

J. Smoltz
IP 8.0
H 4
ER 2
BB 4
K 6
 
Washington Nationals
Felipe Lopez, SS3100211 .262
Ronnie Belliard, 2B5011013 .406
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B5011013 .220
Dmitri Young, 1B3000110 .265
Austin Kearns, RF4010023 .256
Ryan Church, CF4010014 .343
Brian Schneider, C2000201 .103
Chris Snelling, LF1100111 .154
Jason Bergmann, P2000002 .000
    Jesus Colome, P0000000 .000
   a- D'Angelo Jimenez, PH0000000 .167
    Jon Rauch, P0000000 .000
   b- Josh Wilson, PH0000100 .000
    Chad Cordero, P0000000 .000
Totals2924278  
a-hit a sacrifice bunt for Colome in the 8th
b-walked for Rauch in the 9th
Batting
2B - Austin Kearns (3, Smoltz)
SH - D'Angelo Jimenez (1)
RBI - Ronnie Belliard (3), Ryan Zimmerman (2)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - Belliard-F. Lopez-Young
Washington Nationals
Jason Bergmann 6100480 3.72
Jesus Colome (W,1-0) 1000000 3.38
Jon Rauch (H,1) 1000010 6.35
Chad Cordero (S,1) 1100220 6.75
WP - Jason Bergmann (1), Chad Cordero (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Jason Bergmann 105-59, Jesus Colome 9-7, Jon Rauch 11-8, Chad Cordero 33-18
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jason Bergmann 3-6, Jesus Colome 2-1, Jon Rauch 2-0
Batters Faced - Jason Bergmann 22, Jesus Colome 3, Jon Rauch 3, Chad Cordero 6
Atlanta Braves
Kelly Johnson, 2B3000100 .161
Edgar Renteria, SS3000121 .333
Chipper Jones, 3B3010111 .294
Andruw Jones, CF3010122 .182
Brian McCann, C4000025 .303
Jeff Francoeur, RF3000111 .286
Scott Thorman, 1B3000114 .158
Ryan Langerhans, LF3000021 .111
John Smoltz, P2000001 .000
   a- Matt Diaz, PH1000000 .375
    Macay McBride, P0000000 .000
    Tyler Yates, P0000000 .000
Totals28020611  
a-grounded out for Smoltz in the 8th
Batting
2B - Andruw Jones (3, Bergmann)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Jones-Renteria
E - Brian McCann (2, Missed catch of throw)
Atlanta Braves
John Smoltz (L,1-1) 8422460 3.15
Macay McBride 0.1000310 7.71
Tyler Yates 0.2000010 7.71
IBB - Snelling by John Smoltz, by Young
HBP - Snelling (by John Smoltz), Snelling (by John Smoltz)
WP - John Smoltz (1)
Pitches-Strikes - John Smoltz 118-77, Macay McBride 22-9, Tyler Yates 7-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Smoltz 11-6
Batters Faced - John Smoltz 33, Macay McBride 4, Tyler Yates 2
Game Information
Attendance - 23897
Game Time - 2:42
Temperature - 66
Umpires - Home - Chuck Meriwether, First Base - Alfonso Marquez, Second Base - Tim Timmons, Third Base - Rick Reed