GAME 146 REVIEW: Maxwell Drops the Hammer on Braves

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, September 15, 2010 | , , , | 0 comments »

THE RESULT:  The Washington Nationals will still lose 90-plus games this season, but their performance the last two days may very well cost the Atlanta Braves the N.L. East title.

Justin Maxwell hit a second inning grand slam, while John Lannan and three relievers made it stand up, as the Nats beat the Braves 4-2, before 19,237 at Turner Field.

The loss for the slumping Braves (6-8 in Sept.) drops them 2 1/2 games behind division-leading Philadelphia, the Nationals next opponent.  It's only the second time this season a visiting team has won a series in Atlanta this season.  The Nats took eight of 15 from the Braves over all this year.

Lannan (W, 8-7, 4.61) gave up two earned runs, eight hits and three walks in six innings for the Nationals, striking out six. He's now 6-2 with 41 Ks against 12 BBs since being recalled from the minors after his bout with elbow soreness. 

Joel Peralta, Sean Burnett and Drew Storen combined for two-hit relief, with Storen pitching a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth save in five chances.

The hitting hero was Maxwell, who has been mired in mediocrity all season with sporadic playing time on the big league level.  The tall, powerful right-handed hitter was hitting just .132 entering the game in 76 at bats.  Inserted today to face a lefty in a day game following a night game, Maxwell made good.  He blasted a 1-0 pitch from Mike Minor (L, 3-1, 5.84) just inside the left field foul pole about 10 rows back.

It's Maxwell's third grand slam in four at bats with the bases loaded in his major league career.

THE GOOD:  The bullpen.  Another three shutout innings from the pen.

THE BAD:  Danny Espinosa.  He went 0-for-4 today, and since his four-hit day Sept. 6 he's reached in just four of his 29 plate appearances, with two hits in 23 at bats and two walks.

THE UGLY:  In the seventh innings, Braves pinch-hitter Eric Hinske high a major league pop-up into short center against a brilliant sunshiny sky.  Center fielder Nyjer Morgan (still awaiting word on his suspension appeals) called off right fielder Michael Morse and second baseman Danny Espinosa, only to then cover his head as the ball fell between the three fielders.  Hinske was credited with a double, but was stranded.

THE STATS:  11 Ks, 2 BBs, 2-for-3 with RISP, 3 LOB, 1 GIDP.

NEXT GAME:  Off Thursday.  Nats start a three-game set with Philly on Friday.