Justin Upton, Braves beat Nats for 9th win in row

Justin Upton, Braves beat Nats for 9th win in row

April 14th, 2013 by Associated Press in Local Regional News

WASHINGTON - Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons homered and the Atlanta Braves won their ninth in row as Paul Maholm beat the Washington Nationals 9-0 Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Upton hit his seventh home run of the season. Chris Johnson had four hits and two RBIs for the Braves, who took a 7-0 lead in the third inning against Gio Gonzalez (1-1).

In sweeping their NL East rivals and compiling the best record in the major leagues, Atlanta (11-1) has outscored the opposition 62-23 and built a 20-6 advantage in home runs.

The Braves have swept three straight series (Cubs, Miami and Washington) for the first time since April 2000, when they swept four in a row (Phillies, Pirates, Dodgers, and Padres).

Washington has lost seven straight to Atlanta, dating back to last year.

Maholm (3-0) allowed four hits in 7 2-3 innings, walking one and striking out seven. The left-hander has not surrendered a run this season in 20 1-3 innings over three starts.

After giving up two singles in the eighth, Maholm was replaced by Luis Avilan, who walked Bryce Harper to load the bases before retiring Ryan Zimmerman on a comebacker.

Gonzalez yielded seven runs and seven hits in five innings for the defending division champion Nationals.

Gonzalez came in with an 0.82 ERA in two starts, but he struggled from the outset in this one.

B.J. Upton lined the first pitch of the game into the left-field corner for a double, only his second extra-base hit in 39 at-bats this season. Brother Justin Upton walked with one out and Evan Gattis doubled in a run before Johnson delivered a two-out, two-run single up the middle for a 3-0 lead.

Justin Upton homered to lead off the third - he didn't hit No. 7 last year until June 23. After a walk to Dan Uggla and a single by Johnson, Simmons drove a full-count pitch over the left-field wall to make it 7-0.

The Braves added two in the sixth against reliever Zach Duke. Maholm and B.J. Upton singled, Jason Heyward doubled in a run and Gattis hit a sacrifice fly.

B.J. Upton, who came into the game with four hits this season, went 3 for 5 to up his batting average from .105 to .163.

NOTES: The Nationals placed C Wilson Ramos (left hamstring strain) on the 15-day disabled list and recalled C Jhonathan Solano from Triple-A Syracuse. ... Atlanta is 8-0 when scoring first. ... Washington 2B Danny Espinosa was hit in the right hand with a pitch in the second inning and left in the fifth inning with a sore hand. ... The Nationals will send Jordan Zimmermann (2-0) to the mound Monday night at Miami. The Braves are off. ... Atlanta's bullpen has not allowed an inherited runner to score this season. ... Maholm improved to 2-6 lifetime against Washington, including 1-3 in the nation's capital.