Atlanta played with fire tonight, but somehow managed to dodge all the bullets as they won their 12th straight game at SunTrust Park, squeaking out a 4-3 victory over a Gnatspos team that was desperate for a win.
Dallas Keuchel got the start and it looked like it was going to be rough as he gave up lead off singles to Trea Turner and Howie Kendrick. Turner was forced at third on an Anthony Rendon grounder, but Keuchel loaded the bases by walking Juan Soto. But, he induced Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a double play and the Braves had escaped without giving up a run.
Patrick Corbin took the hill for the Natinals and he also had a little trouble in the first, with Ozzie Albies doubling with one out and then Josh Donaldson walked with two down, but Adam Duvall struck out and it was 0-0 headed into the second.
Keuchel settled down and worked a 1-2-3 2nd, and Atlanta followed that up with the first of multiple questionable baserunning adventures. Dansby Swanson led off with a walk, and with one out Tyler Flowers also drew a free pass. But with an opportunity for Keuchel to bunt them over, Swanson got picked off and was tagged out, squelching that rally.
In the third Keuchel continued his good work, only giving up a one out single to Dark Lord 2: Electric Bugaloo – Trea Turner. Ozzie then gave the Braves the lead in the bottom of the frame with a solo shot, his 20th. 1-0 Atlanta.
Dallas continued his good work in the 4th, working a clean frame, and Atlanta tacked on a run. Duvall doubled to lead off and Dansby’s groundball was booted by Rendon, which allowed Duvall to reach third. After Austin Riley popped out, TFlo hit a sac fly for the 2-0 lead.
Washington mounted a threat in the 5th, with singles by Yan Gomes and Michael Taylor to lead off the 5th. But Corbin struck out trying to sacrifice, and Turner and Kendrick weren’t able to advance the runners.
Corbin got himself into some two out trouble in the bottom of the 5th, walking Freddie Freeman, Donaldson, and Duvall, but rallied to strike out Swanson to end the threat. Not to be outdone by Corbin, After walking Rendon to lead off the 6th, Keuchel wandered into some two out issues of his own, allowing a Victor Robles single to put runners on the corners, but induced Gomes to ground out.
Atlanta’s baserunning issues came to a head in the bottom of the frame. With one out Flowers was hit by a pitch and Matt Joyce hit an infield single as he hit for Keuchel. Ronald Acuna Jr singled and Ron Washington sent Flowers. That turned out to be a mistake as Flowers was thrown out for the second out. Snit sent Billy Hamilton in to pinch run (a batter too late) and he decided that whatever Swanson could do, he could as well, and he got picked off second.
Chris Martin pitched a clean top of the 7th, making it look easy. In the bottom of the frame a one out single by FabFive Freddie was followed by a Scattered Shower as the Bringer of Rain made it 4-0. Sean Newcomb came in and looked utterly dominant in the top of the 8th.
Unfortunately, he didn’t start the inning. Luke Jackson did, and he gave up back to back singles to Kendrick and Rendon. After getting Soto to swing on a 3-2 pitch that would’ve been Ball 4, Sliderman ran the count full to Zimmerman and then hung a slider that Zimmerman drilled deep to left. That allowed us discerning critics to decide which team’s home run celebration is better – the stupid Washington Conga Line Dance Party or the imiginative Dugout Umbrella Stroll of JD. After a thoroughly scientific polling process (which consisted solely of my asking Seat Painter, Jr. what he thought), I am ready to declare that the Gnatspos are tired posers and the Braves are clever innovators.
Anyway, with the lead cut to 4-3 by Zimmerman, and Newcomb coming in to strike out Robles and get Gomes to ground out, Atlanta couldn’t muster any offense in the bottom of the frame. With Mark Melancon having tossed close to 30 pitches last night, Snit turned to Shane Greene. An eight pitch at bat by Matt Adams made everyone as nervous a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but Adams struck out on the 4th 2-2 pitch. Greene then struck out Gerardo Parra, and with two down Turner squibbed one to the mound that Greene flipped to first for the final out.
Anyway, the Braves have guaranteed that the Gnats will not gain any ground on them this series and trimmed the Magic Number to 13. Julio Teheran takes the hill tomorrow as the Braves look to really drive a stake through the Gnats’ hearts.