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All’s well that ends well as Braves wrench out 4-3 win over Nats

Events conspired to make this a closer game than it arguably needed to be, but the Braves prevailed in the end.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Brett Davis/Getty Images

The Braves escaped with a 4-3 win on Saturday afternoon, turning what was at one point a comfortable 4-1 advantage into a nailbiter late. In the end, A.J. Minter got Josh Bell to roll out to short with the tying and go-ahead runs on base to secure Atlanta’s 51st victory of the season.

The Kyle Wright-Patrick Corbin matchup in this game favored the Braves, and that’s how things played out early. Wright collected two strikeouts in the first, and with two outs and Ronald Acuña Jr. on base, Austin Riley connected off Corbin to give his team an early 2-0 lead.

Wright had an interesting approach in this game, pumping strike after strike throughout the afternoon. It worked out fairly well — he allowed a couple of hits in the first two innings, and a leadoff single was erased on an awesome double play in the third, featuring a leaping Orlando Arcia making the turn in mid-air. His only real blemish came right after, as Juan Soto, who made a first-pitch out in the first, lifted a curveball away and possibly out of the zone for an opposite-field solo shot.

The Braves responded to Solo’s blast in the fourth, as Riley and Travis d’Arnaud notched back-to-back singles to start the frame. After an infield fly, Eddie Rosario rolled a ball to short that ended up being thrown wide of first by Washington shortstop Luis Garcia. Bell couldn’t handle the throw, and Riley came around to score. Arcia followed with a liner into left that made it 4-1 Braves. Later in the frame, Corbin walked Acuña to load the bases, and ran the count to 3-0 on Dansby Swanson. But, Swanson’s 3-0 liner was caught on a dive by former Brave Ehire Adrianza at third, and that was it for the Braves scoring in this one.

Wright walked Adrianza to start the fifth, and then was the beneficiary of another double play to erase a leadoff baserunner. Soto grounded out harmlessly to end that frame. Wright collected just one strikeout from the second through the fifth, but notched two more in the sixth, despite facing the order a third time. In the seventh, though, Yadiel Hernandez popped him for a leadoff homer, making it a 4-2 game.

Patrick Corbin departed after six innings (4/2 K/BB ratio, and the Riley homer), and Steve Cishek threw a scoreless seventh as Acuña was thrown out trying to steal with Matt Olson at the plate. Not sure how advisable trying to steal a base with a lefty up against essentially a ROOGY-type is, but whatever, like the title says: all’s well that ends well.

The eighth was where this game started to get wacky. Wright was into his fourth trip through the order at this point, and Soto led off the frame. Wright walked him... and was immediately pulled for the bullpen’s worst arm — Will Smith. Things quickly soured. Bell hit Smith’s first pitch for a double that put the tying run on second, and Nelson Cruz followed by rolling a single that scored Soto through the left side. Fortunately, Smith recovered to get a shallow fly ball, and then strike out the very hard to strike out Keibert Ruiz, as well as Yadiel Hernandez, the latter on three pitches. The lead was intact...

...and it was that one-run lead that A.J. Minter inherited in the ninth, as the Braves went down in order against Mason Thompson. This was a very stressful inning!

It started with a Lane Thomas single, putting a very speedy runner on as the tying run. The Braves then got a gift, as Adrianza randomly tried a bunt (why?) on a 2-1 pitch, and popped it up to Olson. Minter then fell behind Cesar Hernandez 3-0, but pumped in three straight fastball strikes for the punchout. That brought up Soto, with the game on the line.

Minter got ahead of Soto 0-2, got a barely-tipped foul, and then threw a ball. His fifth pitch was a floating changeup that wafted inside, and Soto winged it weakly to right. Balls hit like that are usually caught, but Acuña pulled up and the ball dropped ahead of him. For whatever reason, Thomas didn’t make it to third, but the Nationals now had another chance with Bell. And, again, all’s well that ends well. Minter fell behind Bell 3-1, but a changeup at the knees was weakly rolled right to Swanson, and the game ended moments thereafter.

Wright had a weird outing in this one, with a 5/1 K/BB ratio and two homers allowed, but a minuscule pitch count that led to him randomly being allowed to face Soto for a fourth time in the eighth. Acuña, Riley, d’Arnaud, and Rosario each collected two hits.

The Braves go for the sweep tomorrow before welcoming the Mets to town for a big July showdown next week.

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