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Braves best Nationals, 5-2, in series opener

The Atlanta offense tallied 10 hits, including a very needed pair from Matt Olson.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Austin Riley and Eddie Rosario both homered, Matt Olson had a two-hit performance to snap an 0-for-22 skid, and Kyle Wright pitched well enough to earn his major-league leading 19th win as the Braves topped the Nationals, 5-2, in the series opener on Monday night. The Braves have now won four straight and nine in a row at Truist Park and improved to 92-55 on the year, while the Nationals fell to 51-96.

Lane Thomas led off the game with a single that rolled just past the glove of Vaughn Grissom, but then Wright got Alex Call to ground into a double play and struck out Luis Garcia.

Atlanta got on the board in the bottom of the frame on Riley’s 37th homer of the season, a two-out shot that was almost caught by Call at the left-center wall.

Wright erased another leadoff single, this time with a stolen base added, with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout in the second, and he retired the side in order on 10 pitches in the third.

The Braves had short-lived threats in the second and third, as William Contreras hit a two-out line drive single but was stranded by Rosario in the former frame, and Ronald Acuña Jr. drew a four-pitch walk but was caught stealing in the latter.

Joey Meneses broke up Wright’s streak of consecutive batters retired at five with a sharp single with two outs in the fourth, but Wright struck out Luke Voit for the second time to end the frame.

The bottom of the fourth saw the Braves send seven batters to the plate and increase their lead to four. After Riley walked to lead off the inning, three consecutive hits to right field by Olson, Travis d’Arnaud, and Michael Harris II scored two runs.

d’Arnaud tried to take an extra base on Harris II’s single but was thrown out at third for the inning’s first out. The Braves quickly found themselves with a runner on third, though, as Harris II stole second and was able to take third on an errant throw by Riley Adams, and the rookie would ultimately score on a Contreras sacrifice fly. Rosario attempted to keep the momentum alive with a two-out single, but he was stranded by a Grissom groundout.

The Nationals came out swinging in the fifth, as Vargas led off with a double, and CJ Abrams followed it up with a single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Wright did then strike Adams out and record a second out via a Victor Robles sacrifice fly that scored Vargas, but he walked Thomas before giving up an RBI double to Call for the inning’s second run. One quick Rick Kranitz mound visit later, Wright got Garcia to ground out on the first pitch he saw.

Acuña Jr. led off the bottom of the inning by tattooing a two-strike double off Washington’s first bullpen pitcher, Andres Machado, but the Braves went quietly after that and again in the sixth inning.

The top of the sixth featured the game’s third iteration of a Meneses single followed by a Voit strikeout, and while Wright did allow another hit in the frame, no runs scored. That proved to be the last inning for Wright, and he finished the night having given up only two earned runs on eight hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in 6.0 innings pitched.

Jesse Chavez worked a perfect seventh inning, and in the eighth, Raisel Iglesias only gave up a single to Meneses so he could then strike out Voit—yes, that was the fourth (!) time that sequence happened in the game.

Steve Cishek entered the game for Washington in the seventh, and Rosario took him deep two pitches after what he thought was ball four was called a strike to keep the at-bat alive. It proved to be the game’s last run, but Olson and d’Arnaud both did add their respective second hits of the evening in the eighth.

Kenley Jansen earned the save by retiring the side on just eight pitches, a welcome sight for Atlanta players and fans alike.

Game two of the series is tomorrow night at 7:20PM with Charlie Morton slated to face off against Patrick Corbin.

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