All about the Braves and baseball events.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Rare Road Win Bright Spot In Frustrating Series; Nationals Take Two Of Three


Have you ever noticed that when a team goes on a losing streak, then wins a couple, then loses another game, people say "they've lost x of their last y" the next day?

Aside from causing people to break that phrase out again, Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami has become the first Braves pitcher in Atlanta and the first in recorded play-by-play in franchise history, to get a loss in his first five starts of the season as the Braves dropped the first game of their road trip 6-3 to the Washington Nationals.

Braves leadoff hitter Nate McLouth doubled off of The Immortal of Baseball Livan Hernandez and scored on Troy Glaus's sacrifice fly three batters later. Center fielder Nyjer Morgan made an excellent catch on the fly, which could have easily been a double. The Braves had the bases loaded with one out when the fly occurred and after Jason Heyward's two-out walk, Melky Cabrera grounded out to second to end the threat.

The lead was short-lived. Kawakami coughed up a one-out solo home run to Josh Willingham. The Nationals used three straight singles to string together another run before Atlanta was able to stem the tide.

Heyward tied the game with a solo shot to center field off starter Livan Hernandez, his eighth of the season, but that was short-lived as well. Ian Desmond answered with a shot off Kawakami in the fifth to left-center to give the Nationals back the lead. Kenshin got three straight groundouts, but the inning provided to be his last as his spot was up in the top of the sixth. Hernandez continued on into the sixth, recording one out before being lifted for reliever Sean Burnett.

The situation didn't get much better as Eric O'Flaherty gave up a leadoff home run to Adam Dunn in the sixth. The slugger golfed the low and inside pitch into the second deck in right. Jonny Venters came on in the seventh for the Braves and gave up a run with a one-out walk, ground out and single. Jesse Chavez finished the Braves' pitching line with a run allowed on two singles and a leadoff walk.

Burnett and Clippard combined for 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Nationals. Veteran Miguel Batistia gave up an RBI single to Brian McCann in the ninth to make the score 6-3, so Jim Riggleman bought in closer Matt Capps to get the garbage 2/3 inning save. He got it by getting Glaus to ground out into a game-ending double play.


Despite some inconsistencies, an early injury that will cause most Braves fans to consider taking Zanax and a few blown leads, the Braves came out on top Wednesday night, defeating the Washington Nationals 7-6 in ten innings, halting their five-game losing streak against the franchise and an eight-game road losing streak.

Washington came out swinging against Tommy Hanson, as Nyjer Morgan led off with a double and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Zimmerman. The Braves were able to take the lead on a two-out, two-run homer in the second inning by Omar Infante. His first of the year off former Braves prospect Luis Atilano put the Braves up 2-1.

Earlier, though, after the first inning, Jason Heyward was

The Nationals quickly struck back as Ian Desmond lined a shot over the left field wall, near where Infante hit his bomb, to tie the game. Roger Bernadina then singled and came around to score on Morgan's second double to give the Nats a one-run lead.

This lead wasn't safe either. Martin Prado smacked a one-out double and Chipper chased him home with a single in the top of the third. Atlanta stretched the lead to two in the fifth on an RBI groundout by Glaus that scored Prado.

That lead was short-lived too! Adam Kennedy led off the fifth with a single, moved to second on an Adam Dunn walk and scored on Ivan Rodriguez's hit-and-run single. Hanson escaped the inning with no further damage.

Deprived of another lead, the Braves decided to take another one and see if that one would hold up. Matt Diaz doiubled to lead off the sixth and Omar Infante walked. Hanson failed to bunt them over, but McLouth doubled home Diaz and Prado scored Infante with a ground out.

Unfortunately, that lead wasn't meant to stay either, to Takashi Saito's chagrin. Ian Desmond reached on a one-out error by Infante in the eighth and moved to third on Roger Bernadina's double. Pinch-hitter Josh Willingham scored both runners with a single to left, blowing the victory for Hanson.

To the Braves' credit, Kris Medlen held off the Nationals in the ninth with a 1-2-3 inning to send the game into extras. Eric Hinske, who came into the game in the top of the 10th, singled to lead off the frame, was sacrificed to second by Cabrera and scored on Diaz's single to right. Bernadina was later criticized for not appearing to attempt to throw out Diaz at the plate.

Billy Wagner made the one run hold up with his third save of the year. He allowed a leadoff single to Cristian Guzman, but got Desmond to fly out to right, struck out pinch-hitter Wil Nieves and Willingham to line out to left.


As if the craziness of the first two games wasn't bad enough, the third game had all kinds of crazy in it. When all was said and done, the Nationals had re-captured the game and the series by a score of 3-2.

The Password is "pitching", because Scott Olsen and Tim Hudson had more than enough to go around. The two pitchers traded zeroes for the first four innings until Ivan Rodriguez scored the game's first run with a long home run to left field, his first of the season. Adam Dunn then led off the seventh inning with a blast to right, giving the Nationals a 2-0 lead. Hudson then struck out two of the next three batters he faced to complete the frame.

Olsen, in the meantime hadn't allowed any hits or any baserunners since he walked Cabrera to start the third inning. Matt Diaz struck out looking for the third time to begin the eighth, but David Ross smacked a high fastball past a diving Desmond into right field for the Braves' first hit. After a standing ovation from the crowd, Olsen pitched to Cabrera. The right fielder hit a bouncer to Zimmerman at third, who threw wildly to first, allowing Cabrera to reach and Chipper to move to third. After walking McLouth, Olsen gave way to Clippard. Heyward, who was sitting out the game with a right groin injury, went up to the plate to pinch-hit. He took a 1-2 outside pitch to left field for a single that scored two runs. Infante hit into a double play to end the inning.

In the top of the ninth, the Braves loaded the bases with one out, but Ross bounced out into a double play to end the threat. The Nationals, on the other hand, got a leadoff walk from Adam Kennedy on a full-count pitch from Eric O'Flaherty, who had pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth. Moylan was brought in to face Zimmerman, but promptly gave up a double that hit off the base of the right field wall. It seemed that Cabrera either misjudged or gave up on the ball. Pinch-hitter Cristian Guzman was intentionally walked to get to pinch-hitter Willie Harris, but the former Brave spoiled that move by lining a single through the drawn-in infield to win the game.

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