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Atlanta at Washington

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Atlanta (70-45) «1001001306150
Washington (54-60)000200100350

Braves strike late, sweep Nats, push winning streak to 13

CBSSports.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- Order another round for Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who has learned that a winning streak can be tough to swallow.

On Wednesday night, the Braves won their 13th straight, summarily dismissing the Washington Nationals 6-3 to complete a three-game sweep and take a staggering-for-early-August 15½-game lead in the NL East.

Now Gonzalez will have to keep drinking up. It turns out that the streak happened to begin on the day that bullpen coach Eddie Perez first gave the manager some sort of protein drink. Gonzalez hates the taste, but he can't stop drinking it with his team on such a roll; sure enough, he was sipping the concoction from a cup in the dugout a couple of hours before Wednesday's game.

"They may be giving me poop. I don't even know what it is," Gonzalez said. "But I've been drinking them for 13 days in a row now. We're superstitious, you know."

Maybe there are some four-leafs clovers stashed in the clubhouse as well, the way the Braves have been playing. While they have a ways to go before they can mathematically clinch, this week has served as a psychological clincher that only could be undone by a monumental collapse.

"We came in here and we let 'em know," first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "We're here to stay."

Jason Heyward singled and Justin Upton doubled in a three-run eighth inning, Upton also hit a home run, and Braves starter Kris Medlen (9-10) allowed three runs and three hits over seven innings. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 36th save, working out of a bases loaded jam by getting Wilson Ramos to line out to right to end the game.

The eighth-inning runs came with two outs off relievers Ryan Mattheus (0-1) and Ian Krol as the Nationals lost their fourth straight and sixth of their last eight. The defending division champs scored only six runs in the three games and are losing hope for an alternate path to the postseason as well, falling nine games off the wild card pace.

"Lot of ground to make up, but you never know what can happen in this game," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "If nothing else, get our pride back by playing better."

The game was played nicely by both sides one night after a fastball to Bryce Harper's thigh cleared both benches and led to a public spat between the clubs' official Twitter feeds. Braves general manager Frank Wren said before the game that a tweet directed at Harper was "an inappropriate attempt at humor." When asked about any possible retaliation, Johnson said it would be "just baseball as usual" before flashing a smile.

As it turned out, the only confrontation involving Harper was between the young slugger and his own manager, when the two bickered in the dugout over whether Harper should come out of the game because of a nagging knee injury.

"Yeah, he was checking on my leg and asking how I felt," Harper said. "I just told him I felt fine and I don't want him to take me out."

While the game passed without incident between the two teams -- no one was hit by a pitch -- the saga might not be over. The teams will play six more times this season, including a three-game series next week in Atlanta.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez has to stomach another protein shake. The good news: The Braves have Thursday off before opening a homestand.

"At least," Gonzalez said, "I get tomorrow off with the shakes."

Notes

  • Andrelton Simmons started the rally in the eighth with a two-out double off Mattheus. After a walk to a pinch hitter, Heyward singled in a run off Krol. Upton followed with a two-run double to the left-field corner.
  • Braves CF B.J. Upton has his first four-hit game of the season to raise his average to a season-high .198.
  • Nationals RHP Tanner Roark made his major league debut with two scoreless innings. He also made a superb defensive play, diving to catch Medlen's sacrifice bunt attempt and throwing to first for a double play.
  • Heyward returned to the lineup after leaving Tuesday's game with a strained neck muscle. "I felt a lot better when I woke up," he said. "Didn't have any head weirdness or headache or anything like that."
 
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Jason Heyward scores two runs in the Braves' win and also contributes two hits, including a double. (USATSI)
Jason Heyward scores two runs in the Braves' win and also contributes two hits, including a double. (USATSI)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

J. Upton
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
Washington

J. Werth
AB 3
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Atlanta Braves
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Jason Heyward, RF5221013 .237
Justin Upton, LF4133111 .272
Freddie Freeman, 1B4021114 .311
Brian McCann, C5000025 .275
Chris Johnson, 3B5020002 .339
Dan Uggla, 2B4100122 .190
B.J. Upton, CF5040000 .198
Andrelton Simmons, SS5120003 .245
Kris Medlen, P2001012 .184
   a-Joe Terdoslavich, PH0100100 .286
Totals39615648  
a-walked for Medlen in the 8th
Batting
2B - Jason Heyward (15, Zimmermann), Justin Upton (20, Krol), B.J. Upton (12, Zimmermann), Andrelton Simmons (16, Mattheus)
HR - Justin Upton (21, Abad)
SF - Kris Medlen (1)
RBI - Jason Heyward (32), Justin Upton 3 (60), Freddie Freeman (76), Kris Medlen (3)
2-OUT RBI - Jason Heyward (14), Justin Upton 2 (14)
CS - Jose Constanza (2, 2nd base by Stammen/Ramos)
Team LOB - 11
Atlanta Braves
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Kris Medlen (W,9-10) 7333161 3.85
David Carpenter (H,2) 1100010 1.85
Craig Kimbrel (S,36) 1100220 1.19
Pitches-Strikes - Kris Medlen 96-60, David Carpenter 23-18, Craig Kimbrel 36-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kris Medlen 9-6
Batters Faced - Kris Medlen 25, David Carpenter 4, Craig Kimbrel 6
Washington Nationals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Denard Span, CF4000001 .260
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4000011 .269
Bryce Harper, LF3110110 .271
Jayson Werth, RF3222100 .317
Adam LaRoche, 1B4010022 .235
Ian Desmond, SS4001022 .270
Anthony Rendon, 2B3000121 .261
Wilson Ramos, C4000013 .275
Jordan Zimmermann, P1000000 .133
   a-Roger Bernadina, PH1000000 .180
   b-Stephen Lombardozzi, PH1010000 .252
Totals3235339  
a-fouled out for Roark in the 6th
b-singled for Krol in the 8th
Batting
2B - Bryce Harper (12, Kimbrel)
HR - Jayson Werth (16, Medlen)
RBI - Jayson Werth 2 (45), Ian Desmond (54)
2-OUT RBI - Jayson Werth 2 (11)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Roark-Rendon
Washington Nationals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jordan Zimmermann 4722250 3.10
Tanner Roark 2100000 0.00
Fernando Abad 0.2211011 2.45
Ryan Mattheus (L,0-1) 1122110 5.82
Ian Krol 0.1211100 2.66
Craig Stammen 1200010 3.41
Pitches-Strikes - Jordan Zimmermann 88-54, Tanner Roark 15-10, Fernando Abad 15-11, Ryan Mattheus 21-10, Ian Krol 17-11, Craig Stammen 18-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jordan Zimmermann 1-6, Tanner Roark 2-3, Fernando Abad 1-0, Ryan Mattheus 1-1
Batters Faced - Jordan Zimmermann 21, Tanner Roark 6, Fernando Abad 4, Ryan Mattheus 5, Ian Krol 4, Craig Stammen 4
Game Information
Attendance - 29114
Game Time - 3:21
Temperature - 81
Umpires - Home - Sam Holbrook, First Base - Adam Hamari, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Joe West