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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.

UP NEXT

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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Why Nationals' Max Scherzer picked college over pros — at first

Why Nationals' Max Scherzer picked college over pros — at first

When Max Scherzer was a teenager, he didn't know that one day he'd actually become a two-time Cy Young Award winner. He had no guarantee he'd make it to the majors, much less play in five consecutive MLB All-Star games. 

All he knew was that he had the option to go pro as a kid or go to college, and back then, the Nationals' ace needed a contingency plan in case baseball didn't work out. Fortunately for Scherzer, it did, but he doesn't regret going to college at the University of Missouri, telling Santana Moss on CSN's "Route 89" going to school was a no-brainer.

"It was actually a really easy decision," Scherzer told Moss. "When you get drafted out of high school, you're going to be going into the minor leagues, and that can take three to five or six years — multiple years — in the minor leagues, and you're forfeiting your right to further your education."

Scherzer was drafted in the 43rd round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003, but he opted to play for Mizzou for three years, which turned out to be a great decision. The Arizona Diamondbacks then drafted him in 2006 in the first round as the 11th overall pick. 

"A lot of times when you sign out of high school, you don't make it to the major leagues," Scherzer continued. "So I realize that your education — that's your safety net.

"You need to further your education in college, and if you do get drafted out of college, you're in a much better position to try to chase your dreams because if it doesn't work out, you still have one year left of school and that's much easier to obtain rather than try to go through four years when you're not coming out of high school."

MORE NATIONALS: Stephen Strasburg returns to the mound

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Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

SAN DIEGO -- Yangervis Solarte hit a two-run home run off Stephen Strasburg in the first inning of the right-hander's first start in almost a month and the San Diego Padres beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 Saturday night.

Strasburg (10-4) retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a single to Jose Pirela and then the homer to the switch-hitting Solarte, who drove a 96-mph fastball to right for his 13th.

Strasburg then settled down against his hometown team, retiring 10 straight batters and 13 of 14. He went six innings, allowing two runs and four hits while striking out eight and walking one.

He hadn't pitched since July 23, when he went only two innings at Arizona. He went on the disabled list with an elbow nerve impingement.

Strasburg pitched at West Hills High in suburban Santee and then at San Diego State for coach Tony Gwynn before going to the Nationals with the No. 1 pick overall in the 2009 draft.

While Strasburg pitched well, the Nationals had only three hits.

San Diego's Travis Wood (2-1) also settled down after laboring through the first inning, when he threw 35 pitches but didn't allow a run. He was unscathed until the fifth, when he allowed a one-out single to Jose Lobaton and a two-out double to Adrian Sanchez. The run was unearned because of Woods' throwing error on Strasburg's sacrifice bunt that advanced Lobaton.

Wood allowed just the unearned run on three hits in seven innings, with two strikeouts and two walks.

Brad Hand pitched the ninth for his 11th save.