Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward (22) hits an RBI double in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field on Sunday in Atlanta. (Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports)
ATLANTA — It would be tough to find two hotter hitters than Atlanta’s first baseman Freddie Freeman and left fielder Justin Upton.
The sluggers each homered early to spark Atlanta to a 10-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday and give the Braves a sweep of the three-game series between the National League East rivals.
“It’s awesome,” Braves starting pitcher Aaron Harang said. “You want them to keep doing what they’re doing. It’s nice when you get a couple guys on a hot streak.”
Freeman went 2-for-3 with a double, homer, a sacrifice fly and four RBIs. He raised his batting average to .442 and leads the team with 10 RBIs. Upton was 2-for-3 with a home run, two walks and two RBIs and went 8-for-10 in the series. He improved his batting average to .386.
“It was a combination of two very hot hitters and us not making the pitches when we wanted to make and in a location we didn’t want to make them,” Washington manager Matt Williams said.
The Braves scored three runs in each of the first two innings against Washington starter Gio Gonzalez (2-1) and moved into first place with the win. Atlanta has won five of six games against the Nationals this season.
Atlanta got another strong pitching effort from Harang (2-1), who allowed only five hits and one run over six innings, with five strikeouts. The veteran, signed late in spring training as a free agent, tallied his first career win over Washington.
“He pitched great,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He gave us an opportunity to win. He navigated himself through a pretty good lineup.”
The Braves scored three runs in the first inning. Freeman had a sacrifice fly, and Upton followed with a two-run shot, his fourth. Upton has homered in three of the last four games.
Atlanta added three more runs in the second. Second baseman Tyler Pastornicky led off with a triple and scored on a double by right fielder Jason Heyward. Heyward scored on Freeman’s long two-run homer, his fourth.
“We kept the line moving a couple of times,” Fredi Gonzalez said. “They came through with some big hits.”
Gio Gonzalez, now 0-6 in his past seven starts against the Braves, settled down and was able to prevent further damage. The Braves had two runners on base in the fourth and the bases loaded in the fifth and could not push across a run. In six innings, Gonzalez allowed nine hits, four walks and six runs.
“The ball was just up,” Williams said. “They put some good swings on pitches. We were able to come back in the first two games, but not today.”
Washington scored a lone run in the fifth inning. Left fielder Kevin Frandsen doubled, took third on a single by second baseman Danny Espinosa and scored when catcher Jose Lobaton grounded out to second base.
Atlanta added four more runs, all unearned, in the eighth inning against reliever Ross Detwiler. Heyward reached on shortstop Ian Desmond’s one-out error and scored on Freeman’s two-out double. After Upton was walked, shortstop Andrelton Simmons struck for his first homer, a three-run shot.
Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche hit his third homer in the ninth, a solo shot off sidearming reliever Gus Schlosser.
Notes: Washington’s Steven Souza Jr. made his major-league debut in the eighth inning and struck out against Atlanta reliever Jordan Walden. … Washington placed 3B Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day DL with a right thumb fracture. He is expected to miss four to six weeks. The Nationals recalled INF Zach Walters from Triple-A Syracuse to take his spot. Walters was hitting .303 with three doubles in nine games for Syracuse. This is the second stint in the majors for Walters, who hit .375 in nine games last September. He pinch hit in the ninth inning and was called out on strikes. … OF Nate McLouth was originally in the starting lineup for Sunday’s game, but was a last-minute scratch because of a sore knee. … Atlanta sat veteran 2B Dan Uggla and 3B Chris Johnson on Sunday and used Ramiro Pena at third base and Pastornicky at second. … Freeman was presented with his team MVP award in a pregame ceremony from the Atlanta Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America chairman Carroll Rogers.