Braves don’t get sweep, lose 2-1 to Nationals
WASHINGTON (AP) — The first Atlanta Braves-Washington Nationals series included a pair of one-run games and left the teams tied in the standings after one week of the regular season.
And they’ve got 16 more to play.
The Nationals avoided a sweep Sunday with a 2-1 victory, the sort of pick-me-up they needed after losing 10 of their previous 12 to the Braves in D.C. It was an April sweep at Nationals Park a year ago that helped build a cushion for the Braves on their way to the NL East title.
“There’s going to be about 15, 16 more games just like this,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Somebody makes a mistake or somebody blinks, and you’re going to end up winning a game or losing one.”
Ian Desmond homered in the seventh inning off Alex Wood (1-1), and the Braves managed only eight hits off four Nationals pitchers.
“It was nice to get that ‘W’ and monkey off our back,” Desmond said. “We obviously understand we have some things that need to be addressed when we’re playing them.”
Wood gave up two runs and four hits over seven innings for the Braves, who have yet to allow more than two runs in a game this season.
“In both losses, (we’ve) only given up two runs — 2-0 in Milwaukee and 2-1 here,” Gonzalez said. “But that’s just the way it goes. The offense will pick it up I’m sure down the road someplace. There will be a stretch where our pitching staff is going to need our offense to pick it up.”
Struggling to overcome the smokeless tobacco habit he’s had for much of his baseball life, Desmond appeared to unleash every bit of his withdrawal frustration on an 87-mph fastball, putting it well into the left-field bleachers.
“This morning I had this huge battle,” Desmond said. “I’m trying to quit dipping, and so I texted my mom and everybody and they were all like, ‘You can do it, you can do it.’ So they were all praying for me, and I made it through the whole game without dip, so that was a bigger victory than beating the Braves.”
Taylor Jordan allowed one run over 6 1-3 innings, working out of several jams along the way, and Jerry Blevins (1-0) retired three batters to get the win. Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his first save, striking out Jason Heyward after allowing a pair of baserunners.
Desmond’s homer was the only run of the game scored on a hit. Washington’s Anthony Rendon scored on an error in the first inning, Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman came home on a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and Jordan and Wood kept the bats quiet in between.
The Nationals finished with four hits — three from their first three batters of the game and Desmond’s homer.
“I love beating the Braves,” Jordan said. “We needed that. They’re our rivals, and it’s great to get one.”
NOTES: Desmond thought he beat out an infield hit in the first inning, but he was ruled out and the call was upheld after a replay review. ... Both teams are off Monday.
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