Atlanta’s offense was cold for most of the day on Sunday but Charlie Culberson came through in the clutch again with a pinch-hit walk-off home run to give the Braves a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals.
Atlanta jumped out to an early lead in the first. Ozzie Albies grounded to first baseman Mark Reynolds who’s throw was too high for pitcher Jeremy Hellickson to handle. Albies moved up to second on the error while Hellickson suffered what appeared to be a hamstring injury on the play. That forced him to leave the game after facing just two batters.
Jefry Rodriguez came on to make his major league debut for the Nationals in relief of Hellickson. He got Freddie Freeman to foul out to third but Nick Markakis singled through the right side to score Albies and put Atlanta in front 1-0.
The Nationals struck back in the third against Anibal Sanchez. Wilmer Difo reached on an error by Dansby Swanson and then came home on a two-run home run by Trea Turner.
Sanchez was solid from that point on allowing just two hits and those two unearned runs over seven innings. He struck out five and walked just one. Rodriguez matched him pitch-for-pitch though however allowing four hits and no runs over 4 2/3 innings of relief.
Atlanta tied the game in the seventh when Swanson jumped on an inside fastball from Shawn Kelley and drove it into the left field stands for a solo home run.
Daniel Winkler pitched a scoreless eighth for the Braves before giving way to Arodys Vizcaino in the ninth. Vizcaino allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base but worked his way out of the jam striking out Michael Taylor to escape with no damage.
That set the stage for the Braves in the ninth against Tanner Roark. Swanson stretched a hit into a double after replay showed that he beat the tag at second base by Difo. Culberson then stepped to the plate and jumped on an 0-1 fastball and drove it into the stands in left for the game winner.
Swanson finished with two hits for Atlanta including his fifth home run of the season. Freeman went 1-for-3 at the plate to extend his hitting streak to 16-straight games. The Braves take three of four in the series and increase their lead in the NL East to 1.5 games.
Atlanta will now head out on a west coast trip that will take them to San Diego and Los Angeles. They will open up a three-game series against the Padres on Monday.