ATLANTA (AP) Even on a roster filled with players who are thriving in pressure situations, Orlando Arcia stands out as a clutch hitter for Atlanta manager Brian Snitker.
“He's got a slow heartbeat,” said Snitker about Arcia, who also hit the tying homer in a 13-10 come-from-behind win over the New York Mets in 10 innings on Thursday night. “He puts a lot of balls in play. He's a guy you want to see in those situations because he can slow everything down.”
Trailing 2-1, the Braves rallied against Kyle Finnegan (3-3) for two runs, one earned, for their sixth consecutive win.
The victory came after the Braves overcame deficits of at least three runs in each game of a three-game sweep of the Mets. Overall, Atlanta has five straight comeback wins.
“We know the offense can score anytime and the bullpen and starters can keep us in games,” said Sean Murphy, who led off the eighth with a single that hit Finnegan's leg.
Pinch-runner Sam Hilliard moved to third on Eddie Rosario’s single, and Rosario moved to second on a fielding error by right fielder Lane Thomas.
Marcell Ozuna drove in Hilliard with a grounder to first base which Dominic Smith bobbled briefly as he looked to throw to the plate. Arcia's grounder was bobbled by shortstop CJ Abrams and ruled a hit as Rosario scored the go-ahead run.
“I was just focused on making good contact and driving in the run any way possible,” Arcia said through a translator.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez said his team couldn't afford the crucial misplays on defense.
“We played well until the bottom of the eighth,” Martinez said. “As I say, if you give good teams extra outs, they're gonna get you.”
Braves rookie AJ Smith-Shawver, a 20-year-old right-hander, did not allow an earned run in 5 1/3 innings, making his first major league start less than two years after his professional debut.
Smith-Shawver allowed three hits and two unearned runs.
Kirby Yates (2-0) pitched a perfect eighth and Raisel Iglesias finished for his ninth save.
Thomas scored each of Washington's runs.
Thomas singled, stole second and scored on a single by Luis Garcia in the first. He reached in the sixth on a fielding error by Arcia. After Thomas moved to second on Garcia's groundout in the sixth, Joey Meneses gave the Nationals a 2-1 lead with a run-scoring double off Collin McHugh.
Thomas was initially called out at second before a successful challenge by Martinez.
Ozzie Albies led off the second with a walk, advanced to third on two wild pitches by Gray, and scored on Arcia's groundout.
Smith-Shawver made one relief appearance, throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings at Arizona on Sunday, before moving into the rotation. A first start before a home sellout crowd of 40,297 would be enough to test the nerves of any rookie, especially one so young.
“I don't think the feeling I had out there was normal compared to anywhere I've pitched,” Smith-Shawver said, adding he felt he “started to settle in a little bit” by the second inning.
The Nationals have lost five straight and eight of 10 despite a strong start from Josiah Gray, who overcame four walks and four wild pitches to allow only one run. Gray gave up only two hits and had six strikeouts in five innings.
Nationals: OF Victor Robles (back spasms) began his injury rehabilitation at Triple-A Rochester and initially will be limited to four or five innings, according to Martinez. Robles has been on the injured list since May 7 and must show he can log repeated nine-inning games before he returns.
Braves: LHP Max Fried (strained left forearm) and LHP Dylan Lee (left shoulder inflammation) are throwing long toss but have not been scheduled to throw off a mound. The Braves also are tracking the progress of RHP Kyle Wright (right shoulder inflammation), who is not yet throwing long toss.
LHP MacKenzie Gore (3-4, 3.66) will look for his second win of the season over Atlanta when the Washington Nationals face LHP Jared Shuster (2-2, 4.99) on Saturday. Gore allowed three hits over 5 1/3 innings in a 4-1 home win over the Braves on April 2.
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