The Braves got their evening started off right as Ozzie Albies nailed the second pitch he saw tonight into the left field bullpen area to get Atlanta a quick 1-0 lead.
Things slowed down quite a bit from there as Julio Teheran and Austin Voth exchanged scoreless innings all the way up to the bottom of the fourth when Josh Donaldson doubled the Braves lead with a solo shot of his own.
The Nationals finally answered by cutting the lead right back to one as Asdrubal Cabrera guided a solo homer right inside the right field foul pole to get the score to 2-1 in the top of the fifth.
The action temporarily stalled out in the fifth inning as Austin Barrett made his first pitches in nearly 1500 days and everyone took a moment to appreciate his show of perseverance.
However, Atlanta got back to work in the bottom of the sixth against Hunter Strickland. Freddie Freeman was first to reach with a single scorched to center field. Then, after Donaldson grounded into a fielders choice, Brian McCann nailed a two run home run into the right field bleachers. That shot was followed up with a towering fly ball by Matt Joyce that nearly found it’s way into the Chop House.
With the Braves leading 5-1 they turned things over to their bullpen. Sadly their first inning of work was not that sharp. It began with Darren O’Day making his 2019 MLB debut against Anthony Rendon who walked. Brian Snitker pulled his leash with haste in favor of Sean Newcomb against Juan Soto, but Newcomb walked both Soto and Cabrera to load the bases with no outs. Somehow, the Braves managed to get out of the inning with just allowing one run after Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a double play and Howie Kendrick lined out to Ronald Acuna in center.
The Braves found themselves right back in trouble during the top of the eighth. Shane Greene got a quick groundout to second base for the first out, but then allowed a double to Trea Turner and hit Adam Eaton in the toe with a pitch. It looked like Greene might get out of it after getting Rendon to pop out to first, but after a long at-bat Juan Soto popped a double into the right center gap to score two runs and bring the Nationals within a run at 5-4. Greene finished by getting Cabrera to groundout, but things were close late once again.
After an uneventful bottom of the eighth Atlanta turned to Mark Melancon for a save to get their ninth straight win. The first batter was Ryan Zimmerman and Melancon absolutely carved him up with four pitches for the first out. Then Victor Robles stepped up to the plate and Melancon got him to line out to Rafael Ortega in left field. The final Nats hope was old friend Matt Adams as a pinch hitter, and Melancon struck him out to end it.
Atlanta has won nine straight games, have won the series, and lowered their magic number to just 11. The lead in the NL East is 10 games and all is right with the world. The Braves will go searching for a sweep tomorrow with Mike Soroka on the hill. Stay tuned.