The Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 3-1 to split a four-game series at Turner Field as Dan Haren pitched eight strong innings for his third win of the season. Haren was nearly perfect on the night outside of giving up a solo home run to Dan Uggla in the seventh inning.
The Nationals’ lineup supplied all the runs Haren would need in the first two innings. Utility player Steve Lombardozzi opened up the scoring by driving in Denard Span with a single to left field in the first inning. Span was in the mix again in the second as the Nationals extended their early lead to three.
Span reached base safely after a throwing error by third baseman Chris Johnson with two outs in the inning. Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos scored on the error and Dan Haren took over from there.
Haren didn’t give up a hit until the fourth inning as he got out of a jam with runners on first and second. The 32-year-old right-hander went on to hold the Braves hitless over the next two innings before Dan Uggla’s blast to deep left.
Haren left a 3-2 pitch over the center of the plate and Uggla launched it into the left field stands to get the Braves on the board. The Nationals’ starter immediately settled back down and got B.J. Upton to pop out to end the inning.
He finished off his great pitching performance by making quick work of the Braves in the eighth. Russ Johnson singled with one out in the inning but never made it to second base as Jordan Schafer and Chris Johnson failed to make anything happen.
The Nationals gave the Braves another scare in the top of the ninth but reliever Jordan Walden managed to hold Washington’s lead at two. Haren didn’t return in the bottom half as Rafael Soriano came in for the save.
Soriano closed out the heart of the Braves order for his ninth save of the season. Justin Upton led off the inning by grounding out to short as the league’s hottest hitter went o-for-4 on the day. Freddie Freeman made it two away with another groundout but rookie Evan Gattis kept the Braves alive with a single up the middle.
Dan Uggla, who homered two innings earlier, stepped to the plate after Gattis and flied out to end the game. Here’s full highlights of the Nationals 3-1 win over the Braves Thursday night.
The Nationals now trail the Braves by 2 1/2 games in the National League East and move on to face Pittsburgh Pirates on the road Friday. The Braves welcome the New York Mets to Turner Field for a three-game series before hitting the road as well.
Have the Washington Nationals finally cooled off the Atlanta Braves after a hot start to the 2013 season?
[Image via Keith Allison]