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Braves lay another egg vs. rival Nats

Dan Haren shut down the Braves on Thursday for the Nationals' second straight win in the series after dropping nine straight to Atlanta dating back to last season.

Dan Haren shut down the Braves on Thursday for the Nationals' second straight win in the series after dropping nine straight to Atlanta dating back to last season.

ATLANTA -- Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson walked to the mound to talk to starting pitcher Dan Haren in the eighth inning. The conversation was concise, just as he’d hoped, and ended with a laugh.

“I went out there and said, ‘Heckuva ballgame. How do you feel?’” Johnson said. “He said, ‘I feel good.’ I said, ‘Good, I’m out of here.’”

Johnson grinned and returned to the dugout, and Haren got the final two outs, the last one a strikeout of Chris Johnson, the league’s leading hitter, who represented the tying run at the plate. Closer Rafael Soriano came in and pitched a scoreless ninth, and Washington completed a 3-1 win over Atlanta to split a four-game series at Turner Field.

“I didn’t want him to give up something late in the ballgame when we had somebody good warmed up,” Davey Johnson said. “I had (Drew) Storen hot, but I liked the way (Haren) was thinking. It was a situation I wanted to see up close.”

Haren (3-3) retired the first eight batters he faced and didn’t allow his first hit until two outs in the fourth. He wound up allowing four hits, one walk and one run, and he struck out four.

The right-hander lost his shutout with two out in the seventh inning when Dan Uggla tagged him for a long home run, his fifth of the season. That run broke a streak of 18 scoreless innings by Washington pitchers.

Haren was acquired as a free agent in the offseason and has been lost in the shadows of Washington’s other starters. He entered the game, his sixth start, with a 6.29 ERA, but he wound up making his longest appearance since he threw a shutout at Seattle on May 24, 2012, when he was pitching for the Los Angeles Angels.

“He’s a great professional,” Johnson said. “He knows what he’s doing out there. That’s the kind of ballgame he can pitch.”

Soriano earned his ninth save. The former Brave retired allowed a two-out single to Evan Gattis, then got Uggla on a popout to end the game.

The win moved Washington back within 2 1/2 games of the Braves in the NL East.

“(Haren) commanded hit pitches better than we’ve seen him,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He had it going. When we took a pitch, it was for a strike.”

Atlanta’s Kris Medlen (1-4) allowed three runs in the first two innings before he settled down and retired nine straight hitters. Medlen gave up seven hits, three walks and struck out eight in seven innings. He took his third straight defeat.

“I didn’t have my ‘A’ game for the first couple of innings,” Medlen said.

Gonzalez disagreed.

“I thought Medlen was outstanding,” the manager said. “He gave us seven strong innings.”

Washington’s offense was paced by center fielder Denard Span, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, a run and two RBIs.

The Nationals scored quickly off Medlen in the first inning. Span yanked a double into the right field corner and scored when Steve Lombardozzi broke an 0-for-17 streak with a sharp single to left. The run was the first Span scored in 13 games since he missed two games with stomach flu.

The Nationals added two more runs in the second inning with two outs. Span grounded a ball off the end of his bat that baffled Atlanta third baseman Chris Johnson and rolled into shallow left. The well-placed double -- originally ruled an error and changed an inning later -- allowed Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos to score.

“I think Chris makes that play 99 out of 100 times,” Gonzalez said. “He came into the dugout and said, ‘I booted that one.’ We make a play there and it’s a one-run game. …

“We pitched good enough to win the series, and they pitched a little better the last two games, so give them credit.”

Washington right fielder Jayson Werth started the game but was removed in the fifth inning for pinch hitter after his ailing hamstring tightened up. He may have tweaked it while chasing a fly ball, Johnson said.

NOTES: Atlanta LF Justin Upton was named the NL Player of the Month, and C Evan Gattis was named NL Rookie of the Month. Upton had a league-leading 12 home runs and .734 slugging percentage during April, while Gattis has six home runs and five game-winning RBIs. … Washington LF Bryce Harper (side/shoulder) was back in the lineup after leaving Wednesday’s game. … Nationals pitchers had retired 28 straight batters over two games before Medlen walked in the third inning. … Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman will come off the 15-day disabled list Friday and join the team in Pittsburgh. He’s been sidelined with a sore left hamstring. Zimmerman experienced no issues while going 0-for-3 Wednesday in a rehab start for Class A Potomac.

Comments

VSU 1 year, 4 months ago

They didn't lay an egg, they scored 1 run.

So who are the real Braves? The team that started 12-1, or the current Braves that has been a .500 team lately?

I am disappointed with the run production with that line-up. Uggla as usual is doing nothing, Heyward is on his off year section of his on year, off year performance. So far, BJ Upton has been a disappointment.

At least the pitching kept them in the game during those two losses at home.

I still think it will be a good year for the Braves.

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dannyaller 1 year, 4 months ago

"Laying an egg" is a figure of speech for a bad performance. The headline would've said "goose egg" if it was meant to infer they didn't score.

But I do agree almost 100 percent with your assessment, VSU. Uggla's struggles are really killing them. B.J. seems like a nervous wreck every time he's up there, and I think he's scuffling because he sees how much success Justin is having and is trying too hard to match it. And Heyward really needs to start being the Heyward he was as a rookie. No excuse for his drop off in production.

I think their pitching is still a little suspect. There isn't a starter on that team that hasn't had a "What-the-heck?" outing yet. To compete in October, you need two guys who are almost automatic wins every time they step on the mound. Not even Hudson gives them that this year.

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VSU 1 year, 4 months ago

I was joking about the egg, like on the scoreboard sometimes they say nothing but goose eggs on the scoreboard, so I couldn't resist saying that.

Uggla has been a disappointment ever since he came here.

Heyward had a good rookie season, a bad second season, bounced back last year, but this year he's struggling again. Seems to be inconsistant, like good one year, bad the next, good the next year etc. Maybe the odd numbered years are against him.

I felt at beginning of season, the starting pitching would be a question mark, we knew the bullpen was good, but for the most part, the Braves starting pitching I feel hasn't been that bad. No, they are not pitching no hitters, but I think outside of a few rough outings the starting pitching has been decent. Look at some of the losses the braves had.

2-0 to Philly 2-0 to Washington 3-1 to Washington 1-0 to KC 3-1 to Pitts 4-2 to Pitts 6-5 to Colorado

So outside of the Detroit series over half of the Braves losses is not because of starting pitching, but lack of runs scored. The 6-5 loss to Colorado, Hudson had the lead late, and Kimbrel blew the save opportunity.

So whereas the starting pitching has been shaky at times, overall I don't think they have done that bad. Even Tehran (sp) has done good his last two outings. However not good enough to win if they continue getting shut out or only scoring 1 or 2 runs.

I'd be about ready to put Chris Johnson at 2nd (if he can play second) put Francisco at 3rd and Gattis in Right after McCann comes back.

Regarding Upton, we thought it was a good move getting BJ and I was concerned about Justin, since he seemed to be falling off last year, but Justin has stepped up to the plate and delivered and BJ is the one dropping off. Maybe like you say he is trying too hard to keep up with Justin. Everybody thought that would be the Braves strength watching the Upton's trying to outdo each other. Maybe BJ needs to stop worring about that and just be himself and whatever happens happens instead of stressing and putting pressure on himself.

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