Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson usually owns the Washington Nationals. Entering play last night, Hudson had a career record of 11-2 against the franchise. But last night the veteran starter fell victim to some shoddy defense by his normally reliable teammates in the middle innings, then a couple of bad pitches resulted in pair of two-out, three-run home runs by Laynce Nix and Jayson Werth, and the Nats managed to hold on to a 7-6 win before 16,143 at Turner Field.
It didn't come easy though, as the Braves rallied for five runs in the eighth against three different Washington pitchers. But pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad's long fly ball off closer Drew Storen died on the warning track, as did Atlanta's hopes for a comeback victory in the ninth.
The Nats record sits at 17-18 after the win, and 3-4 on the nine-game road trip with two games to play.
The Nats were error-frees again and are 13-8 in games when they keep a clean sheet in the error column, compared to a 4-10 mark when they commit as least one error.
Nationals starter Jason Marquis earned his 100th career victory, pitching into the eighth inning. He gave up seven hits and three walks, striking out three in 7 2/3 innings. But two of the three runs against scored after Marquis (4-1, 3.66) left the game, as Sean Burnett gave up a hit and a walk to his only two batters, then Tyler Clippard surrendered Dan Uggla's three-run home run to bring the Braves to within one.
After a visit from pitching coach Steve McCatty, Clippard settled down and got out of the inning. Storen threw a 1-2-3 inning for his eighth save of the season. Storen has allowed just one earned run all season in 19 2/3 innings. He owns a 0.46 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and .157 batting average against.
The Nats managed just five hits in the game, but scored seven runs thanks to a pair of errors in the fourth inning. Braves 1B Freddie Freeman couldn't handle an Adam LaRoche sharp ground ball and center fielder Nate McLouth flat-out dropped Wilson Ramos' fly ball as he and right fielder Jason Heyward both tracked the ball. McLouth admitted after the game he took his eye off the ball to find the linebacker-sized Heyward running toward him.
The next batter, Nix, drilled a three-run shot into the right field stands.
The next inning, Werth hit a changeup that Hudson described to as a "brutal pitch selection" on a line to left field, and the Nats built a seemingly insurmountable 7-1 lead. In the end, it was just enough to secure the victory.
THE GOOD: Drew Storen. Threw seven of his 10 pitches for strikes, getting two fly ball outs and a comebacker from Martin Prado to end the game.
THE BAD: Wilson Ramos went 0-for-4, stranding three runners. His average slips to .301.
THE UGLY: Danny Espinosa went 0-for-4, lowering his average to .214. The rookie is 5-for-32 (.156) in his last ten games.
THE STATS: Five hits, three walks, six Ks. 3-for-7 with RISP, 2 LOB, 1 GIDP. No errors.
NEXT GAME: Today at 7:10 pm against Atlanta. John Lannan (2-4, 5.09) vs. Tommy Hanson (4-3, 2.62)