Braves defeat Nationals 7-4

Braves defeat Nationals 7-4

September 24th, 2011 by Associated Press in Sports - Professional

WASHINGTON -- Dan Uggla and the Braves knocked around Stephen Strasburg a bit in a three-run first inning, and Atlanta helped its bid for a playoff berth by beating the Washington Nationals 7-4 Friday night.

Tim Hudson (16-10) pitched into the sixth for the Braves, who had lost eight of their previous 12 games. Entering Friday, their once-hefty lead in the National League wild-card standings had dwindled to a two-game edge over St. Louis.

Uggla finished with three hits and two RBIs, including a run-scoring single while Strasburg (0-1) labored at the outset of the game, which began 14 minutes late because of rain. The right-hander, coming back from reconstructive elbow surgery, allowed four hits in an inning for the first time in the majors.

Strasburg needed 38 pitches -- spread across 18 minutes -- to get through the top of the first. He faced eight batters and gave up three runs, two earned.

After striking out leadoff hitter Michael Bourn, Strasburg allowed consecutive singles to Martin Prado, Chipper Jones and Uggla, who made it 1-0. Strasburg then struck out Brian McCann swinging at a 97 mph fastball before Freddie Freeman delivered an RBI single, grounding it just past the outstretched glove of second baseman Danny Espinosa.

Jack Wilson then hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. The ball bounced off Zimmerman's right wrist, between his legs and into left field to score Uggla, making it 3-0.

Collin Balester replaced Strasburg for the fifth and walked two batters before serving up Uggla's RBI double. And that was it for Balester, who was charged with three runs, because the next reliever, Atahualpa Severino, was greeted by McCann's two-run double.

Hudson, now 14-3 against the Nationals, gave up nine hits but limited the scoring to three runs.

In the sixth, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and a trainer came out to check on Hudson, but he stayed in long enough to yield four hits in that inning, including RBI singles from Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos.

Werth hit his 20th homer in the eighth off Jonny Venters, one of four relievers used by Atlanta.

That made it 6-4, but the Braves tacked on an extra run in the ninth when the Nationals blew a rundown, left home plate uncovered and let Bourn trot in to score on a fielder's choice groundout by Jones that wound being scored 1-6-5-3-4.

Atlanta's rookie closer, Craig Kimbrel, got the final three outs for his 46th save in 53 chances.