For the third night in a row the Braves fell to the Washington Nationals, this time in a tightly contested ballgame that finished with a 3-2 score. Coming into this series Atlanta had won five straight and were seemingly on their way toward a more competitive brand of baseball. The hot-hitting Nationals changed all that.
R.A. Dickey got the start for Atlanta in this one and pitched very well, going seven innings and allowing three runs despite just three hits. Dickey's ERA now sits at 3.86 on the season, a marked improvement over what he showed in 2016 and certainly a better number than Atlanta got out of their fourth starters last year.
Both teams plated a run in the second inning of this one, Washington scoring on a Michael Taylor sacrifice fly and Atlanta on an R.A. Dickey bases loaded ground out. The game would stay knotted up at 1-1 until the bottom of the fourth inning, when a Kurt Suzuki sac fly gave the Braves a one-run lead.
The Atlanta lead would stand until the top of the sixth, when Ryan Zimmerman put the Nationals on top with a two-out, two-run homer off Dickey. That would be the final score of the ballgame.
Credit to Stephen Strasburg for stifling the Braves offense in this one and even managing to hold the hottest hitter alive, Freddie Freeman, hitless. Strasburg pitched seven strong innings, allowing two runs and striking out ten.
In what has become one of the most frustrating aspects of this team thus far, Emilio Bonifacio was once again the first bat off the bench for Atlanta. Bonifacio went to the plate for Dickey in the seventh after Kurt Suzuki reached base to lead off the inning and promptly struck out, failing to advance the runner and providing yet another unproductive at-bat.
The Braves again threatened in the ninth, with two men reaching ahead of Ender Inciarte with two outs, but a fly out to center field by Inciarte ended the game and completed a frustrating series for Atlanta.
The Braves now head to Philadelphia for a weekend series, sending Bartolo Colon to the hill against Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson on Friday.