After last night’s dramatic victory over the Braves, the Washington Nationals made things a little easier with an 8-2 rout over Atlanta Saturday night. The team scored early and often to secure a series win over the Braves and keep pace with the first-place Mets in the NL East.
Gio Gonzalez got things started for the Nationals and the left-hander turned in one of his best starts of the season. Gonzalez allowed just two hits while striking out 10 batters and walking four in six scoreless innings of work.
Of course, it helped that Gonzalez received more than enough run support from the Nationals’ suddenly-potent offense. The team scored eight runs on the night, and it all started with a big, four-run assault in the bottom of the third inning.
Ian Desmond got the scoring started for the Nationals. After leading off the third inning with a double and moving to third on a Wilson Ramos groundout, Desmond came around to score on a wild pitch from Braves starter Shelby Miller. Anthony Rendon stretched the Nationals’ lead to 2-0 with an RBI double later in the inning, before Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer—his 33rd of the year—to make it a 4-0 game.
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The Nationals took advantage of a Braves error to score two more runs in the fourth inning, making it a 6-0 game. Washington stretched their lead to 7-0 on an RBI single by Ryan Zimmerman an inning later. All seven runs were charged to Miller, who lasted just 4 1/3 innings for the Braves.
Zimmerman drove in the Nationals’ eighth run in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI ground out, capping a huge night for the offense.
After Gonzalez left the game, the Nationals’ bullpen pitched mostly well the rest of the way. Casey Janssen turned in a scoreless inning of work in the seventh. Matt Grace allowed two runs in the eighth, but Blake Treinen shut the Braves down the rest of the way to secure the victory for the Nationals.
With tonight’s win, the Nationals kept pace with the Mets in the NL East. The Mets, who beat the Miami Marlins Saturday night, hold a five-game lead over the Nationals in the NL East. Washington and New York kick off a big, three-game series Monday night at Nationals Park.
Next Game: The Nationals look to complete a four-game sweep over the Braves tomorrow afternoon at Nationals Park. Joe Ross gets the start for the Nationals while Manny Banuelos takes the mound for the Braves. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET.