The Braves had high hopes coming into the series with the Nationals, knowing they'd need a sweep or, at the very least, a series win to keep pace in the East. Unfortunately, due to some bad luck, bad defense, and impotent offense, Atlanta was only able to take one of three games from the Nationals. While this doesn't completely rule out winning the East, it makes me task much harder, as Atlanta is now 6 back with only 3 games left against Washington.
Game one was by far the most frustrating for Braves fans. Washington jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead on Tim Hudson who was shaky early. Hudson settled down however, and the Braves kept chipping away, eventually tying the game on Jason Heyward's two-run blast in the 5th inning. Despite several opportunities, the Braves couldn't break the tie, and the game carried on into extra innings. Washington won in the 13th, when infield hits put men on the corners with 1 out. A groundball froze Dan Uggla, who apparently couldn't decide whether he should go home or try and turn two. Washington won 5-4.
Game two was no more fun to watch, though it was far less competitive. Stephen Strasburg only allowed 1 run in 6 innings, striking out 10 Braves on the night. Strasburg dominated the Braves and Paul Maholm was unable to keep pace. Maholm didn't pitch badly per se, but made two mistakes - an Ian Desmond solo homer and a Jesus Flores 3 run jack. It was Flores' 2nd game-deciding homer vs. the Braves this year.
Game three saw the Braves break through behind a stellar performance from Kris Medlen. Medlen ran his shutout innings streak to 20 as he blanked the Nats over 7 strong innings, whiffing 7 while only walking 1. Atlanta broke through against Ross Detwiler in the 5th, scoring a pair on Martin Prado's 2-out RBI double. Eric O'Flaherty worked out of a big jam in the 8th, and the Braves tacked on 3 insurance runs in the ninth to win 5-1.
Chipper Jones, in his postgame comments last night, made the point that Prado and Heyward were really the only hitters to show up this series, and the numbers sure flesh that out. Over the 3 games, Heyward went 7-14 with a homer, 3 RBI, and a steal. Prado went 6-15 with 3 runs and 2 RBI.
Atlanta now heads to San Francisco, where the competition doesn't get any easier. The Braves will take on the NL West leading Giants in a 4 game series starting tonight. Fortunately for Atlanta, they will miss Matt Cain, who started last night.