There must be something about Turner Field that makes Stephen Strasburg not pitch his best.
Strasburg walked four in three innings and Mike Minor overcame a shaky start to beat the first-place Nationals 7-5.
Right away, it appeared as if Minor wasn't going to have a good day. Danny Espinosa's leadoff double to start the game led to a run. Minor gave up another leadoff double in the second, this time to Adam LaRoche, but retired the next two hitters before the decision was made to walk Jesus Flores intentionally to face the .348-hitting Strasburg. The Washington starter responded by singling in a run to put the Braves in a 2-0 hole.
Minor ran into trouble again in the third. A single and a pair of walks loaded the bases with one out, and a mound conference followed. That seemed to work because he induced a double play on the first pitch to Ian Desmond to stop the rally and give the Braves life in the bottom of the inning.Michael Bourn and Martin Prado drew consecutive walks with one out against Strasburg in the third; Jason Heyward then lined a double to left to score Bourn. Freddie Freeman's sacrifice fly tied the score and Dan Uggla followed with a tiebreaking double to left, putting the Braves ahead 3-2.
That was all for Strasburg, who had to leave the game after drawing a walk in the fourth because of heat-related issues. Atlanta's bats, however, kept the runs coming against new pitcher Chien-Ming Wang. Andrelton Simmons reached on an infield hit leading off the inning and scored on Juan Francisco's double. Francisco scored on Bourn's double and Bourn crossed the plate on Prado's sacrifice fly. Simmons drove in Freddie Freeman in the fourth to increase Atlanta's lead to 7-2.
Minor appeared to settle down after the third-inning double play. He tossed two scoreless innings before LaRoche and Desmond reached base against him in the sixth. Kris Medlen was brought in to quell the threat, but immediately gave up run-scoring singles to Tyler Moore and Jesus Flores. Washington rallied for a two-out run in the seventh against Medlen on LaRoche's second double of the game, cutting the lead to two. Chad Durbin issued a pair of walks to load the bases, but escaped unscathed.
Craig Kimbrel shut the door in the ninth to conserve the win in earning his 23rd save.
Strasburg has now walked 10 and allowed 11 total runs in 14.1 innings at Turner Field.