Big First Inning Sets Tone as Nationals Win Series

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Sep 9, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals catcher

Wilson Ramos

(40) and right fielder

Jayson Werth

(28) celebrate on the field after defeating the Atlanta Braves 6-4 at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After last night’s 2-1 win over the Braves, the Nationals knew they needed just one more win to finally show that they have what it takes to win a series against their arch rivals from the south. The Nationals did just that Tuesday night at Nationals Park, defeating the Braves and earning their first series win of the season against Atlanta.

Unlike last night’s game, however, the Nationals offense got off to a strong start against Braves starter Ervin Santana.

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RBI singles by Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos and a sacrifice fly by Asdrubal Cabrera gave the Nationals a quick 4-0 lead in the first inning. The Nationals added another run an inning later on another RBI single by the red-hot LaRoche.

With the comfort of an early lead, Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann dominated the Braves lineup early on. Zimmermann retired seven of the first nine batters he faced before running into trouble in the top of the fourth, when the Braves cut the Nationals’ lead to 5-2 on an RBI groundout by Jason Heyward and an RBI single by Chris Johnson.

The Nationals got one of those runs back in the bottom of the frame on an RBI double by Jayson Werth, but the Braves rallied again in the sixth inning to cut the Nationals’ lead to 6-4.

Fortunately for the Nationals, the bullpen held the Braves scoreless until the ninth inning, when closer Drew Storen would go for his third save in as many days. Storen, who had not thrown three days in a row all season, was as dominant as he’d been the last two days, retiring the Braves in order to seal a 6-4 win for the Nationals.

With tonight’s win, the Nationals improved their record to 82-61 and stretched their NL East lead over the Braves to a team-record nine games. With only 19 games left to play, the magic number to clinch the NL East is 10.

Next Game: Stephen Strasburg (11-10, 3.43 ERA) and the Nationals take on Aaron Harang (10-10, 3.87 ERA) and the Braves as Washington looks to sweep Atlanta for the first time this season. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET.

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