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Braves Fall Flat Against Nationals, Lose 4-1

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Rick Ankiel #24 of the Washington Nationals make a catch in center field in the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on September 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Rick Ankiel #24 of the Washington Nationals make a catch in center field in the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on September 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Chien-Ming Wang had never beaten the Braves in four previous starts against them, so Braves fans who were optimistic about this game had good reason to be. Unfortunately for them, the offense was nonexistent and the Braves lose to the Nationals 4-1.

When the Braves went down in order on eight pitches in the first, that may have been an indication the game wouldn't go well for them. In the second inning, Brandon Beachy issued a pair of one-out walks before giving up a run-scoring single to rookie Chris Marrero.

The way the Braves were hitting in the game, what happened in the fourth made any comeback seem out of reach. Ryan Zimmerman singled leading off and Jayson Werth walked with one out when Danny Espinosa drove home both following a wild pitch with a hit to center. Then with two outs, Wang, 0 for 32 as a hitter with 18 strikeouts and no RBI, singled home another run.

Freddie Freeman hit his 21st home run of the season, but the offense otherwise looked helpless against Wang in six innings, managing only four hits and striking out four times; three of the strikeouts were looking. Beachy walked four and struck out nine in six innings.

The closest the Braves came to scoring again was in the eighth when Brooks Conrad walked with one out and went to third on Michael Bourn's single, but Bourn was caught stealing on a questionable call and Martin Prado flied out to end the threat. This was the only inning where the Braves managed to put two runners on base.

St. Louis won, cutting Atlanta's Wild Card lead back to two with four to play.