Today, the Washington Nationals (71-65) were without first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who was given the day off. But, that didn’t stop the Nats from putting up runs on the board offensively. Behind a five run second inning and another home run from Bryce Harper in the third, the Nats defeated the Atlanta Braves (54-83), 8-4, to complete the four game sweep and get their fifth straight win. During this series, the Nats scored eight or more runs in three of the four games and put up 36 total runs as the Braves have now lost 12 in a row.
Atlanta did get on the board first against Nats’ starter Joe Ross in the first inning. With two outs and runners on the corners, Nick Swisher hit a single to right that drove in Nick Markakis. While an error by Ross allowed Swisher and Freddie Freeman to move into scoring position, Ross got Adonis Garcia to ground out to short to end the inning.
More from Nationals News
- Latest DraftKings Sportsbook Promo Code in Maryland: Bet $5, Win $200 Guaranteed
- Nationals Claim Jeter Downs Off Waivers
- Washington Nationals Tuesday Q&A
- A Washington Nationals Christmas Wishlist
- Robots in Baseball? The Possibility of an Automated Ball/Strike System in the MLB
After not scoring a run against Manny Banuelos (1-4, 5.13 ERA) in his Major League debut in July, the Nats put up five runs against him in the bottom of the second. Yunel Escobar singled and Ian Desmond walked to begin the inning. Two batters later, Michael Taylor hit a double into the left field corner to drive in both runs and put the Nats ahead 2-1.
As the inning continued, Banuelos would make a mistake with two outs when he hit Ross with a 3-2 fastball to keep the inning going. That set the stage for Jayson Werth, who hit a three-run homer to left to increase the Nats lead to 5-1. It was Werth’s seventh home run of the season.
One inning later, Bryce Harper got the frame started on a great note when he hit a solo shot to center to put the Nats up 6-1. It was Harper’s 34th of the season and he has now homered in three straight games. Banuelos would go two innings, give up six runs (five earned runs) on seven hits, struck out three, and walked one in the loss.
Later in the inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Tyler Moore was able to reach base on an error by Adonis Garcia at third, which allowed Escobar to score. It was the Braves’ second error of the inning as Michael Bourn lost a ball in the sun on a flyball by Taylor in the previous at-bat.
Ross gave one of the runs back in the top of the fourth when Bourn hit a two-out infield single that scored Swisher to cut the lead to 7-2. But, the Nats would get that one run back in the bottom of the frame when Anthony Rendon hit a one out solo shot to left center against Sugar Ray Marimon to extend the lead to 8-2.
Despite getting the big lead, Ross did not have his great command today. In the top of the fifth, Ross gave up a double to Jace Peterson and walked Freeman, which was his final batter of the game. Matt Williams would bring in Sammy Solis ( to face A.J. Pierzynski. Pierzynski would end up hitting a single to left to score Peterson and Swisher drove in Freeman with a sacrifice fly to center that shortened the Nats lead to 8-4. As for Ross, he went 4.1 innings, gave up four runs on five hits, struck out no one, and walked three on 76 pitches (47 strikes).
Even though Solis allowed the two inherited runners to score, the bullpen was able to shut out the Braves over the final 3.2 innings. Solis, Casey Janssen, Felipe Rivero (2-1, 2.63), Drew Storen, and Jonathan Papelbon gave up two combined hits, walked one, and struck out eight. Rivero would be given the win as he went 1.1 innings, gave up no hits and struck out two of the four batters he faced.
Next Game: The Washington Nationals begin a three game series tomorrow afternoon against the New York Mets at Nats Park. You can catch that game at 1:05 PM ET on MASN. Max Scherzer (11-11, 2.89) gets the start for the Nats against Jon Niese (8-10, 4.17) for the Mets. Washington will enter play four games behind New York after the Mets lost 4-3 to the Marlins this afternoon.