ATLANTA (AP) — Kyle Wright didn't exactly feel sluggish, just not quite on top of his game.
Even so, his performance, which Wright said was just “OK," was good enough to move him closer to 20 wins.
“The more times I can go out there and pitch as long as I can, however long that may be, and hopefully give us chance to win — that’s what I think I’m the most proud of," he said. “There’s just a lot more confidence when I take the mound."
Wright won his major league-leading 19th game, Austin Riley and Eddie Rosario homered and the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-2 on Monday night.
The defending World Series champions won their ninth straight home game to improve to 92-55. Atlanta remained one game behind the first-place Mets in the NL East after New York won 7-2 at Milwaukee to clinch a playoff spot.
Wright (19-5) won his sixth consecutive decision, allowing two runs and eight hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in six innings. The Braves improved to 22-6 in Wright’s starts this season, including seven straight wins. Wright threw 64 of 88 pitches for strikes.
“He’s been sharper, but you’re doing something right when you win that many games and you’re keeping your club in there, and it’s not going to be just without flaws or smooth sailing all of the time," manager Brian Snitker said. “And probably most of the time not. And the fact that you can maneuver and do things when you’re not hitting on all cylinders is what winners do."
Riley hit his 37th homer, second-best in the NL, and his eighth against the Nationals in 14 games this year. He went deep in the first off Cory Abbott, his 368-foot shot barely clearing the wall in left field. Rosario connected off Steve Cishek to make it 5-2 in the seventh, his fifth homer traveling 392 feet to right.
Last-place Washington dropped to 51-96 and lost for the seventh time in nine games.
“They’re getting an opportunity to play and they’re showing me some things I want to see, and they’re doing well," manager Dave Martinez said. “We’re looking for players, right? Come spring training, these guys can make a good case for themselves."
Wright is 3-0 with a 3.15 ERA in three starts this year against the Nationals. The No. 5 overall draft pick of 2017 gave up a single in the first, the second and the fourth but didn’t allow a runner into scoring position until Ildemaro Vargas doubled to begin the fifth.
Vargas advanced on C.J. Abrams’ single and scored on Victor Robles’ sacrifice fly. Wright issued his lone walk before Alex Call doubled to drive in Abrams to trim the lead to 4-2. Wright gave up singles to Joey Meneses and Vargas in the sixth but struck out Riley Adams to end the threat.
Jesse Chavez faced the minimum in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the eighth — his 18th consecutive scoreless appearance — and Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 35th save in 42 chances.
The Braves scored three runs in the fourth. Riley walked and advanced on a double by Matt Olson that ended an 0-for-22 stretch, then scored on Travis d’Arnaud’s single. Michael Harris II followed with an RBI single. He stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error by Adams and scored on William Contreras’ sacrifice fly.
Olson began the game with four hits in his last 66 at-bats dating to Aug. 28.
“It hasn’t been the easiest go for me personally, but it’s a crazy game and you just stay on top of stuff," he said. “We’ve been winning some games and that’s all that matters at the end of the day. Trying to get it going in the right direction. A good baby step."
Atlanta has outscored opponents 39-12 during its home winning streak. The Braves last won nine straight as part of a modern era-record 13-game home winning streak in 2019. At 51-25 at home, the Braves are second in the NL in home winning percentage.
Facing Atlanta for the first time, Abbott (0-3) allowed four runs and six hits in four innings, his ERA rising 51 points to 5.70 in seven starts this season.
Meneses went 4 for 4, each of his hits a single.
The Braves improved to 11-3 against Washington this season.
Nationals: Martinez said DH Nelson Cruz (eye inflammation) is doing better after taking eye drops but might need a couple more days before he rejoins the lineup. ... LHP MacKenzie Gore (left shoulder inflammation) will throw a bullpen Tuesday. If that goes well, he will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester. ... C Keibert Ruiz (testicular contusion) and RHP Cade Cavalli (right shoulder inflammation) are traveling with the team but aren’t expected to return this season. ... RHP Victor Arano (right shoulder strain) played catch.
Wright is bidding to become the first Braves pitcher to lead the NL in wins since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003. The last Atlanta pitcher to lead the majors in wins was Tom Glavine in 2000. The Hall of Famer won 21 times that year.
Braves RHP Charlie Morton (8-6, 4.17 ERA) will face LHP Patrick Corbin (6-18, 6.11) as the teams play the second game of a three-game series Tuesday.