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Braves hand Nationals their third loss in a row

Braves hand Nationals their third loss in a row

ATLANTA -- Nick Markakis hit a go-ahead single in the eighth inning and Kurt Suzuki added a two-run homer to give the Atlanta Braves a 7-4 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

With one out in the eighth, Enny Romero (2-2) walked Brandon Phillips, who then stole second base. Markakis lined a single and Phillips scored on a head-first slide as right fielder Bryce Harper's throw skipped past Matt Wieters.

Suzuki drove in three runs on two hits, including an RBI double off Gio Gonzalez in the fifth for a 4-all tie.

Arodys Vizcaino (2-1) recorded three straight outs, two on strikeouts, in the eighth. Jim Johnson pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save.

Dansby Swanson hit a two-run homer off Gonzalez in the second. Jace Peterson, making only his second career start at first base, missed Harper's grounder in the third for a fielding error that allowed two runs to score, giving the Nationals a 3-2 lead. Trea Turner had a run-scoring single earlier in the inning.

Peterson is playing the position after Braves star first baseman Freddie Freeman was injured earlier this week.

Atlanta's Matt Kemp hit his seventh homer in the third. Washington's Daniel Murphy led off the fourth with his eighth homer off R.A. Dickey.

The Braves couldn't take advantage of a chance to take the lead in the sixth. Swanson led off with a double by beating out Jayson Werth's weak throw from left field. Swanson was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Michael Taylor on Ender Inciarte's single.

Shawn Kelley walked Peterson and Swanson to load the bases in the seventh but struck out pinch hitter Rio Ruiz to end the inning.

Gonzalez gave up four runs on nine hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. Dickey allowed four runs, two earned, on eight hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer pointed to his left knee and said "It's unbelievable, I don't even have a mark." A line drive hit by Philadelphia's Michael Saunders hit Scherzer on the knee in Sunday's game. Scherzer fell to the ground but recovered to last two more innings and is set to start the second game of the series on Saturday.

Braves: Manager Brian Snitker said he would be "real surprised" if 3B Adonis Garcia (left Achilles tendon tendinitis) doesn't come off the 10-day DL when eligible next week.

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Nationals: Scherzer (4-2) is 5-0 with a 3.12 ERA in six starts against the Braves since the start of 2016. The Nationals are 6-0 in those starts.

Braves: RHP Bartolo Colon (2-4), who has allowed five or more earned runs in four of eight starts, will take an ugly 6.80 ERA into the game against Washington.

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Nationals beat Braves, snap losing skid behind Stephen Strasburg's strong start

Nationals beat Braves, snap losing skid behind Stephen Strasburg's strong start

ATLANTA (AP) -- Stephen Strasburg struck out a season-high 11 and kept up his recent domination of the Atlanta Braves, leading Washington to a 3-2 win Sunday that stopped the Nationals' four-game losing streak.

Strasburg (5-1) allowed five hits in 7 2/3 innings, beating Atlanta for the second time this season and improving to 7-1 in his last nine starts against the Braves. He is 10-8 overall against Atlanta.

He reached double digits in strikeouts for the second time this season after fanning 10 Braves on April 20.

Strasburg faded in the eighth, when Dansby Swanson hit a two-run double. Koda Glover struck out Nick Markakis to end the inning and finished the six-hitter for his third save.

Daniel Murphy hit a second-inning homer off Jaime Garcia (1-3) and the Nationals added two unearned runs in the third.

Matt Adams was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and hit into a ninth-inning double play in his debut for Atlanta, a day after he was acquired from St. Louis. Matt Kemp led off the ninth, and Adams hit a line drive that was caught by Ryan Zimmerman, who stepped on first base.

Garcia allowed three runs -- one earned -- and seven hits in eight innings with no walks.

Washington took a 3-0 lead in the third following fielding errors by Markakis in right and Garcia. Bryce Harper had a run-scoring single.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 3B Anthony Rendon and C Matt Wieters were given days off from the starting lineup. Rendon entered at third base in the eighth.

Braves: RHP Kris Medlen allowed one hits in six scoreless innings Saturday in his first start for Class A Florida. He missed most of 2016 with shoulder problems after his second Tommy John surgery. "That would be a real nice piece to have," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. Medlen pitched for Kansas City in 2015-16 and his last season with Atlanta was in 2013, when he was 15-12 with a 3.11 ERA.

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Nationals: Following an off day, RHP Jacob Turner (2-2) is expected to start when the Nationals will open a series against Seattle on Tuesday.

Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (2-4) will take a 0-3 career record in three starts against Pittsburgh into Monday night's series opener against the Pirates.

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2017 MLB Power Rankings: As Bryce Harper goes, so do the Nationals

2017 MLB Power Rankings: As Bryce Harper goes, so do the Nationals

A week ago, the Nationals were looking unstoppable. Bryce Harper was hitting walkoff dingers left and right, there were multiple winning streaks, and the bullpen was only sorta bad. 

2017 MLB POWER RANKINGS

A week's worth of games later - against the Braves, Pirates and Phillies, no less - and the Nats don't look nearly as stainless. Harper's hitting under .200 since his Mother's Day walkoff, the team lost 5 of 6, and the bullpen turned back into a pumpkin. Because of that, there's a new team at the top of the Power Rankings this week. Who is it? To the rankings! 

30. MIAMI MARLINS

2017 Record: 15-28
Previous Ranking: 24
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Notable Performance: Dee Gordon (.318/.400/.364 last week)

Stanton hasn't homered in over two weeks, a stretch of 12 games. After going 2-8 over the last 10, including that weird Dodgers game, the Marlins have seen better weeks.  

29. SAN DIEGO PADRES

2017 Record: 16-30
Previous Ranking: 29
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Notable Performance: Brad Hand (.300/.500/.600 last week)

Wil Myers' underwhelming season continues. The outfielder is hitting .150 over the last week, and only .219 over the last month. The Padres best position player is only worth .6 bWAR, and that's 5th-best on the team.

28. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

2017 Record: 15-26
Previous Ranking: 23
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Notable Performance: Daniel Nava (.429/.429/.571 last week)

They ran into Texas at exactly the wrong time. Getting starts that are consistently like Aaron Nola's last one will be huge for his development this season. 

27. KANSAS CITY ROYALS

2017 Record: 18-25
Previous Ranking: 27
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Notable Performance: Lorenzo Cain (.087/.125/.087 last week)

They're starting to play better, but upcomming series with the Yankees and Indians aren't making life any easier for KC. Jason Vargas (?!) has been their most valuable player this year (2.0 bWAR). 

26. ATLANTA BRAVES

2017 Record: 18-23
Previous Ranking: 30
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Notable Performance: Matt Kemp (.375/.423/.708 last week)

Losing Freeman for three months because of some dumb unspoken beef is just a testament to how stupid unwritten baseball rules are. The silver lining to this year, though, is that the Braves are going to fleece some team for Matt Kemp in July. 

SEE THE REST OF THE RANKINGS HERE