Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis, right, is congratulated by third base coach Doug Dascenzo on his home run during the fifth inning of a baseball home opener against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Friday, April 4, 2014, in Washington.Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
WASHINGTON — Benefiting from the decision to overturn Ian Desmond's inside-the-park homer on replay review, the Atlanta Braves beat Washington 2-1 Friday, spoiling the Nationals' home opener and giving rookie manager Matt Williams his first loss.
Desmond's shot down the left-field line in the fifth inning, which appeared to tie the game at 1, was switched to a ground-rule double after a five-minute delay after Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez requested the review. Desmond was sent back to second base and wound up getting caught in a rundown while trying to steal.
Washington did eventually even the score, but Atlanta's Chris Johnson delivered a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth off reliever Tyler Clippard (0-1).
Luis Avilan (1-0) got one out in the seventh for the win, and Craig Kimbrel earned his third save.
After putting two runners on with no outs in the eighth, David Carpenter, Atlanta's fourth reliever, came back to strike out Washington's 4-5-6 hitters. He threw a called third strike past Bryce Harper on a 96 mph fastball that ended the inning.
Atlanta's first run came on Evan Gattis' homer leading off the fifth against Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, who was scratched Thursday because of a fever and upset stomach. A 19-game winner last year, Zimmermann allowed one run and four hits in five innings while striking out nine.
Atlanta right-hander David Hale, in his third career start, threw five scoreless innings.
With the bases empty and one out in the fifth, Desmond lined a shot down the third-base line. The ball wound up nestled at the base of some green wall padding, and left fielder Justin Upton stopped pursuing it and raised his arms. The umpires did not halt play, though, and Desmond rounded the bases.
Gonzalez came out to argue and request a replay review. The game was delayed -- with some in the sellout crowd of 42,834 chanting "Home run! Home run!" -- and the ruling was changed. From that point, fans booed Upton whenever he was involved in the action, whether he was catching a fly or stepping into the batter's box.
The Nationals opened the season with a three-game road sweep of the New York Mets, but Friday represented a matchup against their tormenters last season. Atlanta went 13-6 against Washington in 2013 in replacing the Nationals as National League East champions.
Atlanta's Upton brothers, Justin and B.J., were a combined 0-for-8 with six strikeouts. Braves batters struck out 14 times, giving Washington's pitchers 53 Ks in 37 innings this season.
The Braves claimed right-handed pitcher Pedro Beato off waivers from Cincinnati and made room on the roster by optioning left-hander Ryan Buchter to Class AAA Gwinnett.