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AP photo by Alex Brandon / Atlanta Braves pinch hitter Pablo Sandoval watches his two-run homer during the seventh inning of Wednesday's second game against the host Washington Nationals. The Braves won 2-0 after taking the day's first game 7-6.

WASHINGTON — Yes, Pablo Sandoval is 34 and in his 14th year in the major leagues, a two-time National League All-Star and a World Series MVP. He still needed to prove himself in spring training to earn a roster spot with the Atlanta Braves and a $1 million, one-year deal.

He's sure paying dividends quickly.

The hefty hitter affectionately known as Kung Fu Panda slugged his second pinch-hit home run in a week Wednesday, driving a two-run shot to the deepest part of the ballpark off a reliever who took over after Stephen Strasburg's six scoreless innings, with Sandoval lifting the Braves to a 2-0 victory over the Washington Nationals for a doubleheader sweep.

"I don't want to lie," said Sandoval, who hit three homers in one game for the San Francisco Giants in the 2012 World Series. "It's one of those moments when you get goose bumps."

Atlanta entered the day 0-4 but got headed in the right direction during the opener, when Ronald Acuña Jr. led the way with a double and a pair of singles to help the Braves win 7-6.

Sandoval signed a minor league contract in January with the Braves, then earned a job, which sure looks like a wise choice by the club.

"No situation's going to be too big," manager Brian Snitker said. "Not only in that role, but in the clubhouse, too. This guy is awesome to have on your team."

Sandoval, a third baseman, came off the bench to homer on opening day, then did the same Wednesday. He turned on a 96 mph fastball from Tanner Rainey (0-1) with a 3-2 count, sending it more than 400 feet after Dansby Swanson's two-out single in the seventh and final inning.

"I missed my spot," Rainey said, "and he didn't miss his swing."

The right-hander hadn't faced hitters since the exhibition finale in Florida nine days earlier. A coronavirus outbreak that hit the Nationals kept them from working out or playing for nearly a full week between spring training and their opener Tuesday, a 6-5 win against the Braves.

Luke Jackson (1-0) earned the win in Wednesday's second game — both were seven innings, per Major League Baseball rules adopted due to the COVID-19 pandemic — by pitching around a pair of walks in the sixth.

Sean Newcomb got three strikeouts for the save.

"That's closer stuff, right there," said Snitker, whose team hit lightly while being swept by the host Philadelphia Phillies in an opening series that wrapped Sunday.

Strasburg hadn't pitched in a regular-season game since being shut down last August and having carpal tunnel surgery on his right wrist. Reaching 95 mph with his fastball, the 2019 World Series MVP struck out eight batters and walked two while exceeding his total inning output for 2020, which was just five in two appearances.

The 32-year-old right-hander's preparation this spring was slowed by a left calf problem, but he showed zero signs of being anything but at his best Wednesday, retiring his last 10 batters.

"That was awesome to see," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "Man, he looked great."

The only hit Strasburg allowed was a single to the game's second batter, Ozzie Albies. The only real trouble came in the third, when Strasburg walked Acuña and Albies, bringing Freddie Freeman to the plate. But Strasburg retired the reigning NL MVP on a fly to center field.

"My execution was not very good most of spring training," Strasburg said. "I thought my execution was a lot better today, and it's a step in the right direction."

Strasburg, who doubled in his first at-bat, was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth after 85 pitches.

Huascar Ynoa went five scoreless innings for Atlanta, allowing two hits.

In Wednesday's first game, the Braves put up five runs in the second inning off Erick Fedde (0-1), then held on with a save by Will Smith a day after he gave up a walk-off hit to Juan Soto.

Smith, Atlanta's fifth pitcher, didn't have an easy time of things, though.

Trying to protect a 7-5 lead Wednesday, the first batter he faced was Soto. This time, Soto walked and Starlin Castro drove him in with a double. Then with two men on, Smith got Andrew Stevenson to ground into a double play.

"This was kind of an agonizing week," Snitker said after Atlanta avoided what would have been its first 0-5 start since 2016. "A good day to end the road trip."

Atlanta's home opener is Friday against the Phillies, with Charlie Morton starting for Atlanta against Zack Wheeler.

On the injury front, the wait for right-hander Mike Soroka to return to the mound for the Braves is going to be at least a little longer.

Sidelined since August after tearing his Achilles' tendon, his comeback effort will be shut down for two weeks because of inflammation in his right shoulder. He threw an inning during a simulated game Tuesday and does not have any structural damage, Snitker said.

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