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Instant analysis: Braves 5, Nats 4

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Instant analysis: Braves 5, Nats 4

Game in a nutshell: Less than 24 hours after a nip-and-tuck, tense ballgame to open this series, the two division rivals did it again, only this time with a bit of controversy thrown in for good measure. The Nationals jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks to Adam LaRoche's 30th homer and some horribly sloppy Atlanta defense, but then gave all four runs back. Three of them were officially charged to Edwin Jackson; the other might as well have been charged to Marvin Hudson. The first base umpire blew a call on what appeared to be a routine 1-3 groundout, saying LaRoche's foot came off the bag. LaRoche protested, as did Davey Johnson, who earned his first ejection of the season. Moments later, Jason Heyward belted the game-tying home run, leaving this one knotted 4-4 heading into the late innings. That's when the Nationals bullpen imploded, with Ryan Mattheus issuing two walks to load the bases in the eighth and then grazing Andrelton Simmons with a 2-2 fastball to force across the go-ahead run. Craig Kimbrel then finished it off for another save, stranding the tying run on third base, sending the Nats to their second straight 1-run loss and dropping their lead in the NL East to 6 12 games.

Hitting lowlight: Given the way they stormed out of the gates to score four early runs, the Nationals looked to be in business. But their bats went silent after the second inning, unable to push another run across the plate against Tommy Hanson or the Atlanta bullpen. They didn't strike out nearly as many times as they did last night, but they did fail to make contact in some key spots. Danny Espinosa, in particular, struggled, whiffing three times (making him 0-for-7 with seven K's in the series) and stranding a runner on third with two outs in the third.

Pitching lowlight: Making his first career start in his hometown, Jackson was mostly in control. The only real mistakes he made through his first five innings were to Freddie Freeman, who tripled in the second and then homered in the fourth. But then came the blown call by Hudson to lead off the sixth, leading to Johnson's ejection, but perhaps more importantly a rattled Jackson. He immediately served up a two-run homer to Heyward, tying the game and completely changing the momentum of the game. On one hand, there was nothing Jackson could do about the blown call. On the other hand, a veteran of his stature has to be able to shake off adversity like that and refocus on the task at hand. Jackson wasn't able to, and because of it, he missed an opportunity to earn his 10th win of the season.

Key stat: There are now three big-league first basemen with 30 homers this season: Edwin Encarnacion, Albert Pujols and Adam LaRoche.

Up next: The series wraps up tomorrow night with a nationally televised showdown between the two division rivals. Gio Gonzalez seeks his 20th victory, with fellow lefty Mike Minor on the mound for Atlanta. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. on ESPN.

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Ten very good Pups in the Park who don't care that the Nats lost

Ten very good Pups in the Park who don't care that the Nats lost

Nationals Park opened its gates to dogs on Sunday for "Pups in the Park." Humans and their doggos got to sit in outfield section 140-143 with tickets being $30 per person and $10 per canine.

The Nationals ended up losing to the Reds, but that didn't put a damper on the afternoon for the guests of honor. 

Sometimes, its a blessing not to know what's going on. Just check out these ten happy puppers. 

1. Teddy, who's cuter than any racing president

2. Steve, who looks great in hats

Steve the dog 🐶 showing his natitude #pupsinthepark #nats

A post shared by Jen (@see_jho_run) on

3. Penny, who probably wasn't easy to carry around

Today was a good day to be Penny. #ballgame⚾️ #natsbestbuds #pupsinthepark

A post shared by Sheri (@pennysmom87) on

We took her out to the ball game! #pupsinthepark #natsbestbuds

A post shared by Sheri (@pennysmom87) on

4. Apollo, a Nats fan from a young age

5. Ellie, who plans to use this photo for #TongueOutTuesday

6. Auryn, who isn't even watching the game

Happiest little corgi in the park #aurynthedog @viano_perez #pupsinthepark #nats

A post shared by Taylor Pittman (@taylorp712) on

7. Moussie, who trimmed his beard just for the occasion

MOUSSIE IN THE PARK ⚾️🐶

A post shared by emma (@emmajekowsky) on

8. Dasher, obviously the favorite granddog

9. Bentley and Abby, whose moms can be overbearing 

Enjoying #pupsinthepark at @nationals game! #Bentley #Abby #ForcedPhotos 🐶🐶⚾️

A post shared by Mary Kennedy (@mkay0310) on

10. PJ, who squeezed into this selfie at the last minute

It's #pupsinthepark day at #nationals park. PJ is ready for a big Nats win!

A post shared by Luke Reeves (@lreevesm) on

Washington is now 13-19 in days games this season, significantly worse than their 31-11 night record. But these furry friends don't know that!

MORE NATIONALS: Roark's shaky start dooms Nats in loss to Reds

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Nationals can't overcome Tanner Roark's first inning, lose to Reds

Nationals can't overcome Tanner Roark's first inning, lose to Reds

WASHINGTON (AP) – Scooter Gennett homered and got four hits, and the Cincinnati Reds scored five times in the first inning off Tanner Roark en route to a 6-2 victory over Washington Nationals on Sunday.

The Reds won for just the second time in 15 games. Gennett's four hits were his most since he got five while becoming the 17th major league player homer four times in a game on June 6.

Gennett had an RBI single in the first and hit his 11th home run in the second. The second baseman also threw out Brian Goodwin at the plate on a fifth-inning relay, preventing Bryce Harper from recording an RBI on a three-hit day.

Scott Feldman (6-5) pitched seven innings. He allowed both runs on Michael Taylor's 11th homer.

Roark (6-5) gave up six runs over six innings and 115 pitches after requiring 40 to complete the first. The right-hander has now yielded 19 runs over his last three starts as his ERA has risen more than a run to 5.15.

Billy Hamilton led off the game with a double and scored a single by Gennett. Joey Votto also singled, and Gennett scored on Harper's throwing error from right field.

A grounder made it 3-0 before Tucker Barnhart hit a two-out, two-run double off Harper's outstretched glove.

Gennett homered into the Nationals' bullpen in the second.

Taylor homered in the fourth. He connected twice Saturday in Washington's 18-3 romp.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Reds: 3B Eugenio Suarez was out of the starting lineup for the first time since June 8, but came in as a defensive replacement and popped out in the ninth. He is hitting .180 over his last 17 games and is just 2 for 18 on the Reds' road trip.

Nationals: LHP Sammy Solis (elbow) made a fifth rehab outing on Saturday night, retiring two batters on 11 pitches.

UP NEXT

Reds: LHP Brandon Finnegan (1-0, 2.70) draws the start Monday at St. Louis in a makeup game from an April 29 rainout. It is Finnegan's first outing since going on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury on April 16.

Nationals: Begin a four-game home series against the Cubs, who are combined .206 (20 for 97) against Gio Gonzalez (7-1, 2.96), Washington's starter on Monday.

MORE NATIONALS: Nats clobber Reds 18-3