Daniel Murphy, Wilson Ramos deliver as Washington Nationals take series opener vs. Braves
By Pablo Roa
Despite a shaky start from ace Max Scherzer, the Washington Nationals topped the Atlanta Braves in the first game of a four-game series at Nationals Park, 6-4.
After a rain-shortened series against the Miami Marlins, the Washington Nationals were back in action tonight in the first of a four-game series against the Atlanta Braves. Max Scherzer got the start for the Nationals and struggled early on as the Braves’ offense got off to a hot start.
A.J. Pierzynski got the scoring started for the Braves in the top of the first inning. Scherzer started the frame with two quick outs, but a walk to Freddie Freeman and a single from Adonis Garcia jumpstarted the Atlanta offense. With two on and two outs, Pierzynski drove in both runners with a double to center field to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead.
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The Nationals weren’t trailing for long. Michael Taylor led off the bottom of the first inning with a single. Braves starter Bud Norris then walked Bryce Harper. Both runners advanced on a double steal, before a sacrifice fly by Ryan Zimmerman trimmed the Braves’ lead to 2-1.
With a runner on base and two outs, Daniel Murphy continued his torrid start to his Nationals career with a big two-run blast to right field. The homer, Murphy’s second of the season, gave the Nationals a 3-2 lead.
Unfortunately for the Nationals, Scherzer’s struggles continued in the second inning. With two runners on, two outs and the count full, Scherzer was unable to put away Braves right fielder Nick Markakis, who drilled a curveball from Scherzer to right field for a two-run double, giving Atlanta a 4-3 lead.
It was a shaky start for Scherzer, who surrendered four runs on six hits while striking out six batters over six innings of work.
The Braves’ lead was short-lived, however, as Danny Espinosa tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third. The Nationals scored another run in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single by Wilson Ramos, giving them a 5-4 lead. Ramos struck again two innings later, stretching the Nationals’ lead to 6-4 with another RBI single in the bottom of the seventh.
It was a great night at the plate for Ramos, who went 4-for-4 with two RBIs.
Tasked with preserving a two-run lead, closer Jonathan Papelbon got the call in the ninth inning and delivered — retiring the Braves in order to record his fourth save of the season.
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Up Next: The Nationals and Braves will continue their four-game series tomorrow night at Nationals Park, when Gio Gonzalez makes his 2016 regular season debut against Jhoulys Chacin and the Braves.