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Atlanta Braves' Ozzie Albies (1) follows through on a two-run home run next to Washington Nationals catcher Riley Adams (25) during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA (AP) — Ozzie Albies hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer off Ryne Harper in the seventh inning, Adam Duvall took Paolo Espino deep with an early three-run shot, and the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 8-5 on Tuesday night.

Albies, who had four RBIs and went deep for the fourth straight game, put the Braves up 5-1 in the fourth with a sacrifice fly, before the Nationals scratched back to score four runs in the top of the seventh against Tyler Matzek on Juan Soto's RBI single and Yadiel Hernandez's eighth homer, a three-run shot.

Albies' 28th homer, which sailed into the seats in left-center, made it 7-5. Duvall, the NL RBIs leader with 97, gave the Braves a 3-1 lead in the first inning with his 32nd homer.

Atlanta, the three-time NL East defending champion, began the day with a 1-game lead over Philadelphia in the division, but it had lost six of nine.

Will Smith recorded his 31st save in 35 chances after facing the minimum in the ninth.

Freddie Freeman doubled in the third and scored on Travis d'Arnaud's double to make it 4-1. Duvall was tagged out at home on the play to end the inning.

Braves starter Max Fried pitched out of a jam in the second when he struck out Lane Thomas to strand a runner at third, and escaped trouble in the fourth when he stranded two runners on Thomas' groundout. The lefty left a runner at third in the fifth when he picked off Carter Kieboom at first. The pickoff was Fried's sixth, and his 20 pickoffs since he debuted in 2017 are most in the major leagues.

Fried gave up one run and six hits with four walks and five strikeouts in six innings. He has a 1.97 ERA in his last 10 starts, a span of 64 innings.

The Nationals led 1-0 in the first when Alcides Escobar doubled, advanced to third on a fielder's choice and scored on Kieboom's single to right-center.

Espino allowed five runs and seven hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in five innings.

Luke Jackson (2-2) earned the win after replacing Matzek. Harper (0-2) took the loss.

Albies added an RBI single in the eighth to make it 8-5.

 

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals C Keibert Ruiz (left knee bone bruise) was to perform all baseball activities, catch a bullpen and take batting practice before the game. Manager Dave Martinez said Ruiz still has some swelling, He popped up as a pinch-hitter in the sixth. ... SS Jordy Mercer, sidelined since July 21 with a left calf strain, took batting practice.

 

HOMER HAPPY

The Braves, who are second in the NL with 204 homers, have the first infield since the 2008 Florida Marlins to have each starter hit at least 25 long balls. 2B Albies (27) and 3B Austin Riley (29) homered Sunday at Colorado to keep pace with 1B Freeman (28) and SS Dansby Swanson (26). The Marlins had Mike Jacobs, Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramírez and Jorge Cantú reach the mark.

 

SCORING A LOT

Freeman, last year's NL MVP, leads the league for the second straight season in runs scored. He has 103 this year and is attempting to become the first first baseman to have consecutive seasons leading the league in that category since Albert Pujols in 2009-2010.

 

HAPPY TO STAY

Before accepting a new $20 million, one-year contract the day before with Atlanta, RHP Charlie Morton said he had to decide if he wanted to return next year for a 15th season at age 38. The toughest part was knowing he will continue to miss being with his family of four in Bradenton, Fla.

"It was getting hard for me to look at next year and think I wasn't going to play, and I love it here," he said. "The group is awesome. It really did take me a little while to decide because it's a big decision. It involves more than just me, but I'm extremely appreciative. The Braves have been nothing but great. I'm excited."

 

UP NEXT

LHP Sean Nolin (0-2, 5.71 ERA) will pitch for the Nationals against a yet-to-be-determined starter for the Braves as the teams play the second of a three-game series. Touki Toussaint (3-2, 4.19) and Drew Smyly (9-4, 4.71) are candidates to start.

 

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