|Atlanta (11-1) «||3||0||4||0||0||2||0||0||0||9||12||0|
At this point in the season, it's pretty obvious which team is better than the other.
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After forging two-run victories on Friday and Saturday, Atlanta took a 7-0 lead in the third inning against Gio Gonzalez (1-1) and coasted to the finish.
"I take the blame on this one 100 percent," Gonzalez said. "The Braves right now are running hot. They're red hot right now. You got to give them the credit. They're a tough hitting lineup and a good rotation."
Atlanta (11-1) has won nine straight and owns the best record in the major leagues. The Braves have outscored the opposition 62-23 and built a 20-6 advantage in home runs.
"They're good. It's not shocking. It's no surprise to any of us," Gonzalez said. "We all know that's a good lineup and the pitching staff is great."
The Braves have swept three straight series (Cubs, Miami and Washington) for the first time since April 2000, when they swept four in a row (Phillies, Pirates, Dodgers, and Padres).
"We know the Nationals are supposed to be pretty good, so it was good to make a statement early," Simmons said. "Let them know we're going to be tough to beat."
Washington has lost seven straight to Atlanta, dating back to last year.
"I think it's going to be a battle all year long," Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond said. "They played great. We got a good taste of what they are bringing to the table this year."
The final game of this series was a stark contrast to the other two.
"We should have won the first one. We were right there on the second," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "We just got waffled today. I don't put too much stock in it."
Maholm (3-0) allowed four hits in 7 2-3 innings, walking one and striking out seven. The left-hander has not allowed a run this season in 20 1-3 innings over three starts.
"He mixed it up well, mixed his speed up," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We gave him a nice little cushion to work with, and he kept it. Sometimes that's not easy to do."
Gonzalez yielded seven runs and seven hits in five innings for the Nationals, who won 98 games a year ago to Atlanta's 94. Gonzalez came in with a 0.82 ERA in two starts, but he struggled from the outset in this one.
B.J. Upton lined the first pitch of the game into the left-field corner for a double, only his second extra-base hit in 39 at-bats this season. Brother Justin Upton walked with one out and Evan Gattis doubled in a run before Chris Johnson delivered the first of his four hits, a two-out, two-run single up the middle for a 3-0 lead.
Justin Upton hit his seventh homer leading off the third - he didn't hit No. 7 last year until June 23. After a walk to Dan Uggla and a single by Johnson, Simmons drove a full-count pitch over the left-field wall to make it 7-0.
That, essentially, decided the issue.
"Our job is to make sure we keep them as close as possible, and I didn't do that today," Gio Gonzalez said. "Leaving the ball up, falling behind on good hitters, they made me pay for it."
Maholm, on the other hand, permitted only one runner to reach second base over the first seven innings.
"He's pitching incredible this year," Desmond said. "He threw a great ballgame all day. He was working efficiently. Getting first strikes, getting ahead. His team gave him a big lead early. That's what you're supposed to do."
B.J. Upton, who came into the game with four hits this season, went 3 for 5 to up his batting average from .105 to .163.
|Paul Maholm stays red-hot for the Braves, pitching two-hit ball into the eighth inning against the Nationals. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
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|B.J. Upton, CF||5||2||3||0||0||0||0||.163|
|Jason Heyward, RF||4||0||1||1||0||0||1||.103|
|Reed Johnson, RF||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.100|
|Justin Upton, LF||3||2||1||1||2||0||0||.348|
|Jordan Schafer, PR-LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.571|
|Evan Gattis, C||4||1||1||2||0||0||1||.324|
|Dan Uggla, 2B||4||1||0||0||1||1||4||.171|
|Cory Gearrin, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Chris Johnson, 1B||5||1||4||2||0||0||0||.405|
|Andrelton Simmons, SS||3||1||1||3||2||0||2||.211|
|Ramiro Pena, 3B-2B||4||0||0||0||1||1||3||.333|
|Paul Maholm, P||4||1||1||0||0||2||2||.111|
|Luis Avilan, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Blake DeWitt, PH-3B||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.000|
|a-lined out for Avilan in the 9th|
|2B - B.J. Upton 2 (2, G. Gonzalez, Duke), Jason Heyward (1, Duke), Evan Gattis (2, G. Gonzalez)|
|HR - Justin Upton (7, G. Gonzalez), Andrelton Simmons (1, G. Gonzalez)|
|SF - Evan Gattis (1)|
|RBI - Jason Heyward (4), Justin Upton (11), Evan Gattis 2 (10), Chris Johnson 2 (4), Andrelton Simmons 3 (5)|
|2-OUT RBI - Chris Johnson 2 (4)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|PB - Evan Gattis (1)|
|Paul Maholm (W,3-0)||7.2||4||0||0||1||7||0||0.00|
|HBP - Espinosa (by Paul Maholm)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Paul Maholm 113-75, Luis Avilan 14-7, Cory Gearrin 8-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Paul Maholm 10-6, Luis Avilan 1-0, Cory Gearrin 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Paul Maholm 29, Luis Avilan 2, Cory Gearrin 3|
|Denard Span, CF||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.302|
|Zach Duke, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Chad Tracy, PH-3B||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.154|
|Jayson Werth, RF||2||0||0||0||1||0||0||.271|
|Roger Bernadina, RF||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.000|
|Bryce Harper, LF-CF||3||0||0||0||1||1||1||.348|
|Ryan Zimmerman, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||0||4||.220|
|Henry Rodriguez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Adam LaRoche, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||.147|
|Ian Desmond, SS||4||0||0||0||0||2||0||.267|
|Danny Espinosa, 2B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.175|
|Stephen Lombardozzi, 2B||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.286|
|Kurt Suzuki, C||3||0||2||0||0||1||1||.313|
|Gio Gonzalez, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.500|
|b- Tyler Moore, PH-LF||2||0||0||0||0||1||2||.000|
|a-singled for Duke in the 8th|
|b-struck out for G. Gonzalez in the 5th|
|DP - Zimmerman-Espinosa-LaRoche, Zimmerman-Lombardozzi-LaRoche|
|E - Stephen Lombardozzi (1, Misplayed grounder), Ryan Zimmerman (3, Throwing)|
|Gio Gonzalez (L,1-1)||5||7||7||7||3||3||2||4.50|
|IBB - Upton by Zach Duke|
|WP - Henry Rodriguez (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Gio Gonzalez 98-58, Zach Duke 35-23, Henry Rodriguez 22-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gio Gonzalez 7-5, Zach Duke 6-2, Henry Rodriguez 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Gio Gonzalez 25, Zach Duke 15, Henry Rodriguez 5|
|Attendance - 39389|
|Game Time - 2:44|
|Temperature - 61|
|Umpires - Home - Bill Welke, First Base - Brian O'Nora, Second Base - Adrian Johnson, Third Base - Field Culbreth|