Game 145: Braves 5, Nationals 4

And to think, we’re not the sport with replacement officials. Now you can have sympathy for NFL teams.

A blown call at first base by umpire Marvin Hudson in the sixth inning would prove to play a huge factor in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Braves. But more on that later, as there was plenty to talk about in the first five innings.

The Nats would get the offense going in the first inning, as Adam LaRoche would hit his 30th home run right on cue with Daron Sutton’s call.  The shot would also score Jayson Werth, giving Washington a 2-0 lead after one.

The offense would continue to roll in the second inning, as Washington reiterated its supremacy in the hustle game. After a one-out walk by Jesus Flores, Steve Lombardozzi would trap Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman in a state of confusion, reaching first base on a ground ball as Freeman was unable to turn into an out. What should’ve been an out at either first or second base was now runners on first and second with one out for the athletic Edwin Jackson.

Jackson would then lay down a bunt in an attempt to move up both runners, however, a throwing error from pitcher Tommy Hanson combined with Jackson’s hustle would turn into two Nationals runs and Jackson on second base. (Official scoring: Single for Jackson and an error.)

Nats up 4-0 at this point. Now let the ugly begin.

The Nationals would see another typical Edwin Jackson outing: all-around very solid, but with a few mistakes proving to be the difference.

Jackson would give up just two runs over the first five innings, striking out six on just three hits.

The runs would come on an RBI double from Dan Uggla in the second inning and a Freeman solo shot in the fifth.

But in the sixth inning, things would start to go wrong, very wrong. Remember that call I ranted about in the opening paragraph? Here it is.

Martin Prado would lead off the sixth inning with a line drive off Jackson. Jackson, being the athletic player he is, would rebound from the hit quickly to gun out Prado out first base with a nice stretch from LaRoche… or so he thought. Or so everyone except the apparently-unqualified Marvin Hudson thought.

Hudson ruled that Prado was safe on the grounds of LaRoche’s foot being off the base. However, it didn’t take instant replay for the nation to know that LaRoche’s foot probably took up a good 35% of the base…
Davey Johnson was one of the millions of non-imbecilic people that saw the play, and made sure to let Hudson know about it. However, Hudson would continue his cold streak, and toss Johnson out of the game for being right.

So, you’re probably asking: “It was just a single base. Why so fiery?” Well, that single base would prove to play a huge factor in the game.

Next to bat in the inning was Jason Heyward, who would take an Edwin Jackson mistake over the right-field fence for a two-run homer to tie the game at four. Single base becomes tying run. Unbelievable.

Jackson would go on to strike out David Ross in the proceeding at-bat, and that would end his night. Now-manager Randy Knorr would turn to swingman Tom Gorzelanny to keep the game tied. Gorzelanny would come through, getting the Nats out of the sixth inning without any further bad calls…I mean damage.

The damage would not come into the eighth inning, as Ryan Mattheus would come on to relieve Michael Gonzalez. Mattheus would load the bases a single and two walks, and then hit Andrelton Simmons to walk home pinch-runner Jeff Baker for the fifth Braves run of the game.

Mattheus walked away with the loss, and the Braves inched within 6.5 games of the division lead.

Champ of the Game: Adam LaRoche gets the Champ of the Game honors tonight, as he hit his 30th home run on the year, which now ties Albert Pujols for the league-lead amongst first basemen. LaRoche also accounted for both of the Nationals’ earned runs tonight via the home run.

For the Braves, bad call or not, Jason Heyward stepped up when it mattered. It still takes the clutch gene to hit a game-tying home run in a pennant race.

Chump of the Game: Marvin Hudson. Next Question.

Unsung Hero: Edwin Jackson. Though he gave up the home run, he hustled into two Nationals runs and kept the ball club in the game. Props to Jackson for keeping his head in there.

For the Braves, Freddie Freeman was just as important (if not more) to the offense as Heyward. Freeman went 3-4 on the night, falling a double short of the cycle.

Next Game: The Nationals will look to salvage the final game of this Braves series tomorrow as Gio Gonzalez looks to become the first 20-win pitcher in Nationals history (as the Nationals). Probables: Gonzalez (19-7, 2.93 ERA) at Minor (8-10, 4.42 ERA).

Tags: Adam LaRoche Atlanta Braves Edwin Jackson Washington Nationals

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