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Nationals hand Braves first ever loss at new SunTrust Park

Nationals hand Braves first ever loss at new SunTrust Park

Max Scherzer pitched two-hit ball over seven scoreless innings and the Washington Nationals handed Atlanta its first loss at SunTrust Park, escaping a major jam in the ninth to beat the Braves 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Atlanta scored a run against Nationals closer Blake Treinen and had the bases loaded with one out. But Shawn Kelley came on for his first save, getting Emilio Bonifacio to fly out to short right field and striking out Chase d'Arnaud -- twice, actually -- to end the game.

D'Arnaud clearly missed a pitch in the dirt, but the umpires gave him a second chance by inexplicably ruling it a foul tip. D'Arnaud made it a moot point, swinging and missing again.

Scherzer (2-1) got an inning-ending double play to work around his only serious trouble in the fourth. The 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner allowed only one other runner as far as second base, finishing with seven strikeouts.

Mike Foltynewicz (0-2) ended up on the short end of the pitching duel. He went seven innings, allowing five hits and a pair of runs.

Washington's Adam Eaton kept up the hot start for his new team with an RBI single.

Sparked by the debut of their new suburban stadium, the Braves swept San Diego in a four-game series and came in having won five straight overall, getting back to .500 after a 1-6 start.

But Washington has dominated its division rival over the last two-plus season, improving to 37-13 over their last 50 meetings.

Even on a balmy night for the opener of a three-game series against the defending NL East champions, the crowd of 21,834 was the smallest in five games at SunTrust Park.

The Braves had their best scoring chance against Scherzer when Freddie Freeman led off the fourth with a walk and Nick Markakis followed with a single to center.

Brandon Phillips grounded into a forceout, leaving runners at first and third for Adonis Garcia. On a 3-1 pitch, he grounded sharply to shortstop Wilmer Difo, who started an easy double play to end the inning.

Washington broke through the very next inning. Matt Wieters got it started with a double, went to third on a wild pitch and trotted home when Difo slapped a single to right. Scherzer moved the runner along with a sacrifice bunt, setting up Eaton's run-scoring hit to center.

The Nationals added an insurance run in the eighth on doubles by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman.

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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.