Although a sweep would have been nice, can we really complain about taking two of three?
Ross Detwiler fell apart after 4 2/3 IP, allowing two runs in 5 1/3, and a sterling Kris Medlen tossed seven shutout innings as the Nationals (77-47) dropped the third game of their series with the Braves, 5-1, cutting the division lead to six games in Chipper Jones’ final game in D.C.
Before the game, the Nationals held a ceremony honoring Jones, whose nineteen-year career will come to a close after this season. He was given, among other things, third base from the 13-inning game on Monday, signed by every current National, and the bat with which he hit the first ever home run in Nats Park history on March 31st, 2008. Tonight’s game was his last in D.C. unless the Nationals and Braves meet in the playoffs. .
The ceremony came before a pivotal game, with the Nationals having won the first two games of the series to push their division lead to seven games. With a win tonight, the Nationals could have led the division by eight games, which would be the largest division lead in Nationals/Expos history. Unfortunately, it was not to be.
Detwiler (L, 7-6) was excellent at the game’s outset, retiring nine straight Braves after a leadoff double by Martin Prado. After allowing two hits to start the fourth, Detwiler escaped with no damage done after he induced a double play and got Freddie Freeman to fly out. With two outs in the fifth, Detwiler began to fall apart as he allowed a four-pitch walk to the opposing pitcher Medlen, who promptly scored along on a two-run double by Prado. Detwiler was then pulled with one out in the sixth, after allowing two more baserunners, for Craig Stammen, who induced a double play to escape the inning. Detwiler’s final line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 2 ER, 4 K. From then on, the Nats’ pen was able to keep the Atlanta offense at bay until the ninth, when the Braves scored three runs, two unearned, off Tom Gorzelanny thanks to a Ryan Zimmerman error that put Jones on first base. Jones would then score after a Freeman double and a David Ross sacrifice fly. A Michael Bourn pinch-hit single scored Freeman, and Bourn scored on a Kurt Suzuki throwing error while he attempted to steal third. The night was a difficult one defensively, as the Nationals committed three errors.
On offense, the theme of the night was missed opportunities. Twice the Nationals grounded into double plays with a runner in scoring position and one out. In the third inning, Suzuki grounded into an inning-ending double play with Ian Desmond on third and Danny Espinosa on first, and Desmond grounded into one in the eighth with Roger Bernadina on second and Adam LaRoche on first. The Nationals also squandered a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the sixth, with a LaRoche foulout and a Desmond groundout. Every offensive starter recorded at least one hit with the exception of Suzuki, but they would not be enough, as the lone run came on a Michael Morse single that scored Bryce Harper in the eighth.
Champ of the Game: Morse, who recorded his fourth hit in his last 28 at-bats tonight and plated the Nats’ only run.
For Atlanta, Medlen was dazzling, and has thrown 20.1 consecutive scoreless innings.
Chump of the Game: Detwiler, who utterly collapsed after starting the game off well.
Eric O’Flaherty came quite close to letting the Nats tie the game in the eighth.
Unsung Hero: Zimmerman, who was 2-4 and whose groundout moved Harper to third in the eight and allowed him to score on Morse’s single.
Prado was 2-4 with two RBI for the Braves.
Next Game: Friday, August 24th in Philadelphia. Jackson (7-8, 3.69) v. Kendrick (6-9, 4.20)