Washington Nationals: Lopez Picks Up First Big League Win

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Aug 13, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez (49) pitches during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 13, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez (49) pitches during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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Tonight, Reynaldo Lopez picked up his first big league win as the Washington Nationals hung on to beat the Braves, 7-6

On a day where the Washington Nationals (68-47) released Jonathan Papelbon, the pitcher who took his spot on the roster, Reynaldo Lopez, picked up his first Major League win in his third start. On a night where Daniel Murphy drove in four runs and Trea Turner went 3-for-4 with three hits and a RBI, the Nats defeated the Atlanta Braves (44-73), 7-6.

The Braves got on the board against Lopez first in the top of the first. It was no surprise that Freddie Freeman found a way to hurt the Nats in some way as his solo home run to right, his 23rd of the season, put the Braves up 1-0. But, that lead would not last for long.

In the bottom of the first, Turner led off the inning with a triple. Two batters later, Murphy hit a two-run home run to right against Rob Whalen to put the Washington Nationals up 2-1. Turner drove himself in two innings later when he led off the third with a solo home run to left.

Later in the inning, after a Ben Revere triple, Murphy’s sacrifice fly to center gave the Washington Nationals a 4-1 lead Revere’s second triple of the night occurred in the bottom of the fifth when he hit a ball to right field that scored Turner. Right after Revere’s triple, Murphy hit a groundout to second, but it still scored Revere and the Nats would extend their lead to 6-1.

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That sixth run would be the last that Whalen would give up in the game. He went five innings, gave up six runs on six hits, and struck out five on 84 pitches (63 strikes) as he picked up his first loss of the season.

As for Lopez, his command was much better tonight compared to his first two starts. The right-hander went seven innings, gave up one run on five hits, struck out two, and walked two on 100 pitches (71 strikes) in the win.

Against Jason Hursh in the bottom of the sixth, Jayson Werth extended his on-base streak to 42 games with a leadoff single. Two batters later, after a wild pitch, Danny Espinosa’s RBI single to right gave the Washington Nationals a 7-1 lead.

After Lopez, Sammy Solis pitched the eighth inning and the Braves got one run back on a RBI single by Matt Kemp. But, that rally was stopped short when Nick Markakis hit a line drive right at Turner and the Nats were able to double up Freeman at second.

In the ninth, Yusmeiro Petit, in his first appearance since August 1, gave up a run when Jeff Francoeur drove in Jace Peterson with a base hit to center. With the tying run in the on-deck circle and no out, Mark Melancon came into the game to try to get the save.

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Melancon had his fair share of struggles during the inning. Ender Inciarte’s single cut the lead to 7-4 and Erick Aybar hit a two-run double to center to cut the lead to one run, but Espinosa was able to make a good throw to third to get Aybar for the first out of the inning. Melancon would retire the next two hitters (Freeman and Kemp) to complete the save.

Next Game: The Washington Nationals will wrap up their eight game homestand tomorrow afternoon against the Atlanta Braves. You can watch the game at MASN and WUSA9 at 1:35 p.m ET. Tyrell Jenkins (2-2, 3.92 ERA) will start for the Braves against Tanner Roark (12-6, 2.88) for the Nats.

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