Washington at Atlanta

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Washington (28-18) «1300022008120
Atlanta (26-22)020020000482

Harper, Strasburg lead Nats to win

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- Washington relied on its offense for its second straight win over Atlanta, leaving manager Davey Johnson feeling relaxed and happy.

Bryce Harper homered and Danny Espinosa added a three-run shot to help Washington strengthen its hold on first place in the NL East by beating the struggling Atlanta Braves 8-4 on Saturday.

Following Friday night's 7-4 win in the series opener, the Nationals have scored seven or more runs in back to back games for the first time this season.

"The offense scoring seven runs two days in a row, I feel like I'm on vacation or something," Johnson said.

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Stephen Strasburg (5-1) was not sharp, but backed by the Nationals' 12 hits, he still won. He set a season high with four walks while giving up four runs and six hits in five innings. He had six strikeouts.

"He's usually the one picking us up and we picked him up today," Johnson said.

"I just don't think he had a good feel of the fastball. He was throwing good and hard. There was nothing physically wrong with him."

The temperature for the first pitch was 90 degrees, and Strasburg soon was shaking sweat off his right arm between pitches. The heat may have contributed to Strasburg's difficulty controlling his fastball.

"I'd try one thing and it wouldn't work and I'd try another thing and it wouldn't work," Strasburg said. "It was just one of those days. I'm not really happy with it, but the bottom line is we won."

The Braves' season-worst losing streak reached six games as they fell three games behind the Nationals.

Before the game, the Braves placed Chipper Jones on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a bruised left leg.

Dan Uggla's two-run, tying homer in the fifth was the big hit for the short-handed Braves.

Catcher Brian McCann is still recovering from an illness and did not start. First baseman Freddie Freeman was a late scratch as he continues to struggle with his vision while wearing contacts.

"We're not playing particularly well right now," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "And there are no excuses. We've just need to get it going.

"I like the fact that we battled back against Strasburg."

Juan Francisco had three hits, including a double off Tom Gorzelanny to lead off the ninth. Craig Stammen gave a one-out walk to pinch-hitter Jack Wilson. Tyler Clippard earned his third save by striking out Michael Bourn and ending the game on McCann's pinch-hit popout.

Espinosa doubled off Mike Minor to lead off the game and scored on Adam LaRoche's fly ball. Espinosa pushed the lead to 4-0 with his three-run homer off Minor in the second.

Francisco had a run-scoring single and fill-in catcher J.C. Boscan also drove in a run in the second inning.

The Braves pulled even at 4-4 on Uggla's homer off Strasburg. The Nationals answered with two runs off Kris Medlen (1-1) in the sixth.

Pinch-hitter Chad Tracy's double drove in Ian Desmond, who doubled. Tracy pulled up with an apparent groin injury between first and second and had to leave the game.

Johnson said Tracy was hopeful he "just popped some scar tissue" and won't have to go on the disabled list.

Rick Ankiel, the pinch-hitter for Strasburg, added a run-scoring triple off the center-field wall. Michael Bourn appeared set to make the catch before backing into the wall, losing his balance and the ball.

Washington added two runs off Jonny Venters in the seventh. Harper lined his third homer over the left-field wall. Ryan Zimmerman singled and scored on LaRoche's double.

There were loud boos for Jason Heyward in the fifth inning when he bobbled a single by Harper in right field for an error and then took a lackadaisical approach to picking up the ball as Harper raced to second base.

"I just saw he wasn't coming up on it hard and I took advantage of that," Harper said.

Minor gave up four runs on six hits in five innings, marking the sixth straight start he has allowed four or more runs. His ERA climbed slightly to 6.98.

"I feel like there are more positives out of this game than the previous games," Minor said. "It was another home run, it was four runs. But I feel like I pitched a lot better. I used all my pitches today."

Notes

  • Johnson announced after the game RHP Chien-Ming Wang will move into LHP Ross Detwiler's spot in the rotation, and Detwiler will work out of the bullpen. Wang earned the win in his season debut as he gave up one run in three innings after relieving Detwiler in Friday night's 7-4 win.
  • Boscan was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett when Jones was placed on the DL.
  • Atlanta RHP Brandon Beachy (1.77) and Washington LHP Gio Gonzalez (1.98) will match two of baseball's best ERAs when the teams finish the three-game series on Sunday night.
 
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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Bryce Harper goes 2 for 4 with a home run to help the Nationals double up the struggling Braves.  (Getty Images)
Bryce Harper goes 2 for 4 with a home run to help the Nationals double up the struggling Braves. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Washington

D. Espinosa
AB 5
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 3
Atlanta

D. Uggla
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 

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Washington Nationals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Danny Espinosa, 2B5223031 .222
Bryce Harper, CF-RF4121100 .278
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4110100 .256
Adam LaRoche, 1B4012022 .288
Ian Desmond, SS4110002 .275
Xavier Nady, RF-LF4010002 .136
Tyler Moore, LF2000011 .158
   a- Chad Tracy, PH1011000 .265
    Edwin Jackson, PR0100000 .211
    Tom Gorzelanny, P1000011 .500
    Craig Stammen, P0000000 .000
    Tyler Clippard, P0000000 .000
Jesus Flores, C4110022 .237
Stephen Strasburg, P2110000 .389
   b- Rick Ankiel, PH-CF2011000 .246
Totals37812829  
a-doubled for Moore in the 6th
b-tripled for Strasburg in the 6th
Batting
2B - Danny Espinosa (8, Minor), Adam LaRoche (11, Venters), Ian Desmond (14, Medlen), Xavier Nady (2, Minor), Chad Tracy (3, Medlen)
3B - Rick Ankiel (2, Medlen)
HR - Danny Espinosa (5, Minor), Bryce Harper (3, Venters)
SF - Adam LaRoche (3)
RBI - Danny Espinosa 3 (12), Bryce Harper (10), Adam LaRoche 2 (35), Chad Tracy (12), Rick Ankiel (12)
2-OUT RBI - Danny Espinosa 3 (6), Rick Ankiel (6)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Espinosa-Desmond-LaRoche, Desmond-LaRoche
Washington Nationals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Stephen Strasburg (W,5-1) 5644461 2.64
Tom Gorzelanny (H,4) 3200040 3.75
Craig Stammen 0.1000100 1.42
Tyler Clippard (S,3) 0.2000010 2.91
Pitches-Strikes - Stephen Strasburg 95-51, Tom Gorzelanny 48-33, Craig Stammen 8-3, Tyler Clippard 8-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Stephen Strasburg 6-1, Tom Gorzelanny 2-3
Batters Faced - Stephen Strasburg 23, Tom Gorzelanny 11, Craig Stammen 2, Tyler Clippard 2
Atlanta Braves
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Michael Bourn, CF5010042 .304
Tyler Pastornicky, SS4000031 .261
   a- Brian McCann, PH1000002 .254
Martin Prado, LF3110100 .333
Dan Uggla, 2B3112120 .257
Eric Hinske, 1B3100102 .258
Jason Heyward, RF3110100 .241
Juan Francisco, 3B4031000 .226
J.C. Boscan, C4011003 .250
Mike Minor, P2000012 .048
    Kris Medlen, P00000001.000
   b- Matt Diaz, PH1000011 .292
    Jonny Venters, P0000000 .000
    Chad Durbin, P0000000 .000
    Craig Kimbrel, P0000000 .000
   c- Jack Wilson, PH0000100 .170
Totals33484511  
a-popped out for Pastornicky in the 9th
b-struck out for Medlen in the 6th
c-walked for Kimbrel in the 9th
Batting
2B - Juan Francisco (5, Gorzelanny)
HR - Dan Uggla (7, Strasburg)
RBI - Dan Uggla 2 (27), Juan Francisco (14), J.C. Boscan (1)
2-OUT RBI - Dan Uggla 2 (7)
SB - Martin Prado (7, 2nd base off Strasburg/Flores)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Uggla
E - Jason Heyward (1, Misplayed grounder), Eric Hinske (1, Missed catch of throw)
Atlanta Braves
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Mike Minor 5644231 6.98
Kris Medlen (L,1-1) 1322020 3.16
Jonny Venters 1321011 3.63
Chad Durbin 1000020 5.94
Craig Kimbrel 1000010 2.12
IBB - Zimmerman by Mike Minor
Pitches-Strikes - Mike Minor 97-55, Kris Medlen 22-15, Jonny Venters 25-17, Chad Durbin 16-11, Craig Kimbrel 10-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike Minor 5-6, Kris Medlen 1-0, Jonny Venters 1-1, Craig Kimbrel 1-1
Batters Faced - Mike Minor 22, Kris Medlen 6, Jonny Venters 6, Chad Durbin 3, Craig Kimbrel 3
Game Information
Attendance - 42698
Game Time - 3:10
Temperature - 90
Umpires - Home - Dana DeMuth, First Base - Kerwin Danley, Second Base - Paul Nauert, Third Base - Doug Eddings