21-year-old rookie Luiz Gohara went toe-to-toe with the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Wednesday and came away victorious, leading the Braves to an 8-2 bludgeoning of the rival Washington Nationals.
Gohara bounced back from a rough debut — he allowed six earned runs and issued four walks to counter six strikeouts over four innings pitched against the Texas Rangers — with a brilliant start against Washington. Thanks to his control being demonstrably better, the left-hander finished with a final line of 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 6 K.
His counterpart, Max Scherzer, had a frustrating evening to say the least as he allowed seven earned runs over six-plus innings of work. In a reversal of fortune, it was Washington’s starter who had issues finding the strikeout Wednesday — the right-hander walked a season-high six batters while striking out seven.
The nightmarish night marked the first time Scherzer had allowed more than five earned runs since May 6, 2016.
Gohara was backed by a bullpen trio of Daniel Winkler, A.J. Minter and Lucas Sims. The three combined to allow just one hit and strikeout six without issuing a walk over three shutout innings of relief.
Tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh inning, Scherzer issued three consecutive walks to Lane Adams, Jace Peterson and Ozzie Albies to load the bases with nobody out. Dansby Swanson made the Nationals pay with a two-run single to left field, putting the Braves up 4-2.
After intentionally walking Freddie Freeman to reload the bases with nobody out, Scherzer was relieved by right-hander Brandon Kintzler. The decision to bypass Freeman to get to Matt Kemp backfired for Washington, however, as the 32-year old belted a grand slam to left field for his 19th home run of the season and put the Braves up 8-2.
Trea Turner led off the bottom of the opening frame with an infield single. Two at-bats later, potential National League MVP candidate Anthony Rendon doubled to center field to drive in Turner and give the Nationals an early 1-0 lead.
In the top of the fifth inning, Adams connected on the first pitch he saw and proceeded to show off his wheels with a one-out triple to left field.
After drawing a one-out walk in the top of the sixth inning, Kemp advanced to second on a Nick Markakis groundout and trotted home on Tyler Flowers’ double to right field to give the Braves their first lead of the night.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Turner proved to be a nuisance on the base paths, as per usual. Following a leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth inning, the speedy Nationals shortstop enticed a pickoff throw from Gohara to keep him honest. The rookie botched the throw, landing it nowhere near Freeman’s glove and consequently allowing Turner to sprint around the diamond to put the tying run 90 feet from home with nobody out.
In the ensuing at-bat, Wilmer Difo singled to center field to drive in Turner and tie the game at two runs apiece.
Atlanta will go for the three-game sweep Thursday as Mike Foltynewicz (10-12, 4.74 ERA) is scheduled to face the Nationals opposite Tanner Roark (12-9, 4.48 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. ET.