Nats Can’t Capitalize, Drop Series To Atlanta

 

The Atlanta Braves (76-48) have been Gio Gonzalez’s bugaboo this season, pounding him to the tune of a 5.87 ERA in 23.0 IP. He fared much better today, but with how the Nats were hitting, it would have taken perfection to get the Washington Nationals (60-63) a win.

Gonzalez allowed two runs over seven innings, but Julio Teheran and the Braves’ bullpen shut down the Nationals’ offense and helped Atlanta stay unbeaten in series against the Nats with a 2-1 win.

The Nationals are now three games under .500 and nine games out of the second Wild Card spot, and even the faintest hopes of winning that are fading quite fast. A win today would have put them just one game below the even mark, with a chance to meet it for the first time since July 19th in their next series against the Chicago Cubs. Instead, only a Chicago sweep will bring them there.

Gonzalez got off to a rough start, with Atlanta having its way with him as they had before. The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the first, despite getting no well-hit balls. Their four runners reached on a walk, a bunt base hit, and a pair of bloop singles.

After that rocky inning, however, Gonzalez locked it down. His line for the final six innings was stellar: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K. He minimized offensive damage, and saved a heavily overtaxed bullpen. But, he could do nothing about the offense’s disappearance.

The Nationals failed to capitalize on a number of offensive opportunities. Most egregiously, they had runners on first and second with no outs in each of the first three innings, but immediately went down in order to strand them each time. They went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on.

Julio Teheran was strong for Atlanta, throwing six shutout innings and striking out five. He allowed eight baserunners, but was able to keep them from advancing.

Four Braves relievers combined to polish off the game’s final three innings, but not without incident. The Nats broke the shutout in the seventh against Scott Downs and Matt Carpenter, with an RBI-single from Jayson Werth. Before the hit, the Nats had been 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Unfortunately, the offense ended with Werth.

Drew Storen continued his renaissance with his third straight scoreless inning since returning from Triple-A Syracuse, but Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 39th save and give the Braves the win.

The Nats continue their quest for .500 tomorrow in Chicago, as Jordan Zimmermann (14-6, 3.02) takes on Jeff Samardzija (6-11, 4.29).

 

Erin Flynn

About Erin Flynn

Erin is the Lead Beat Writer and Copy Editor for The Nats Blog. She is a journalism major at University of Richmond, and spends entirely too much time thinking about baseball.

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