The Atlanta Braves blanked the Nationals on Thursday keeping them to 5 hits and 0 runs over 9 innings of play.
Starting pitcher Derek Lowe pitched a great game for the Braves giving up just 3 hits and 2 walks in 5.2 innings. The only time Lowe was in any real danger was in the first inning with 1 out and Nationals on 1st and 3rd.
Lowe went on to get the next 2 batters out on a pop out to 2nd base by LaRoche and then a ground out to third base from Michael Morse. After that first inning the Nats did not put another runner in scoring position against Lowe.
Of his outing Lowe took a modest outlook sounding as if he felt a little bit of luck was on his side
“The one that LaRoche hit [to left field in the fourth inning], I felt for sure was a home run,” Lowe said of the LaRoche fly out in the 4th, he then continued onto also say “[Rick] Ankiel [hitting the ball to right in the second inning], I felt the same way. Those were two balls probably later in the year would have been home runs.”
Washington again threatened to score in the 7th with Espinosa on 3rd and 2 outs and pinch hitter Laynce Nix at the plate. Nix struck out swinging to end the inning and with him went the last real chance the Nats had to get something going.
With the all time leader in pinch hit home runs sitting on the bench some questioned whether they should have went with Stairs instead of Nix. Which is a fair question to ask and it is one that Nats Manager Jim Riggleman addressed after the game.
“I felt if I put Stairs up there, they wouldn’t let him hit. I thought they would dance around him. And then we would have Moylan, who is tough on [right-handed hitters], throwing against [Ian Desmond]. I thought we would have a better chance by putting Nix up there. I had a lot of confidence that Laynce would get him. Again, the Braves made good pitches.” Riggleman said of his decision to put Nix in instead of Stairs.
For the Nationals they did get a solid game out of veteran pitcher Livan Hernandez who went 6.1 innings allowing just 4 hits and 2 earned runs.
Hernandez started off slow allowing a runs in the first 2 innings of the game. The first run against Livan came on Brian McCann single that sent Chipper Jones home from second base. The second run came in the second inning on a Jason Heyward solo shot home run to right field.
Livan settled down after the Heyward home run and got out the next 15 batters he faced.
The bullpen gave a solid performance allowing 1 hit and 1 walk with o runs scored over 2.2 innings.
positives from the game- An all around good performance from the pitchers and a good game defensively including 2 diving plays from Werth and a diving play from LaRoche
negative from the game- Not being able to put together many string of consecutive back to back hits, not being able to knock in the runners that did get on base and Desmond going 0 for 4 as a leadoff hitter