The Washington Nationals struck for three runs in the eighth inning to win a 9-7 shootout on Tuesday night at Nationals Park over the Atlanta Braves.
With the game deadlocked at 6-all, Braves reliever Jose Ramirez fell apart in the eighth, allowing three runs to score, yielding the eventual game-winning runs.
The game got to that point because of one simple fact.
Both starters were awful.
As Mark Bowman pointed out, Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez and Braves starter Williams Perez combined to throw 158 pitches to record just 16 outs.
Perez hurled 2 1⁄3 innings, allowing 6 runs on 8 hits. Gonzalez went 3-plus innings, also surrendering 6 runs on 8 hits.
Ender Inciarte led off the game by extending his hitting streak to 17 games. Adonis Garcia put the Braves on the board first with an opposite field double. Matt Kemp’s fielder’s choice gave Atlanta a 2-0 edge.
Dansby Swanson excited Braves fans everywhere with his inside-the-park home run in the second inning. The fly ball took Trea Turner to the center field wall before it bounded back towards the infield, giving Swanson time to race all the way around to make it 3-0 for his first career “big fly.”
Swanson’s was the first Braves inside-the-park home run since Wes Helms somehow accomplished the feat in 2001 (a quick search for video proof was unfruitful). Swanson added an RBI single in the ninth.
Gonzalez got his side on the board in the bottom of the second with a single. The Braves tacked on one more in the third to make it 4-1, before the wheels came off the tracks for Perez.
Three straight singles to lead off the bottom of the third gave way to an Anthony Rendon grand slam, that gave the Nats a 5-4 lead. Two batters later, Ryan Zimmeran lined a ball over the fence to spell the end of the night for Perez.
The Braves let Perez off the hook quickly in the fourth, as Swanson grounded out and Joel De La Cruz stroked a single to tie the game at 6-6 after just four innings of play. But with both starters removed, the offenses came to a screeching halt.
De La Cruz hurled 2 2⁄3 innings of 1-hit ball, while Shae Simmons also threw a scoreless inning.
On the subject of bullpen use, Nationals manager Dusty Baker used Sean Burnett for one batter. In the fifth inning. With nobody on base.
The Braves and Nationals wrap up their series Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET.