Nationals rally but fall to Braves 7-6 in 10th
ATLANTA (AP) — Washington manager Matt Williams assumed Atlanta pinch-runner Jordan Schafer came in the game to try to steal second with two outs in the 10th.
Instead, Schafer’s instructions were to take off on a hit-and-run.
Schafer scored from first base on Justin Upton’s bloop single to right field, giving the Atlanta Braves a 7-6 win over the Nationals on Friday night.
Chris Johnson singled with two outs off left-hander Jerry Blevins (1-1), and Schafer replaced him. ith a 2-2 count, Schafer ran on the pitch and Upton dropped a single in front of Bryce Harper.
Schafer already was rounding third when Harper bobbled the ball. No error was charged.
Blevins threw to first base, trying to keep Schafer close, before the third hit by Upton.
“They put him in the game to steal second base right there,” Williams said. “Otherwise they wouldn’t want to lose Johnson. We just want to try to prevent that as much as possible. Ended up the ball he hit, he was going anyway. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Williams said right fielder Jayson Werth left the game with “a little bit of tightness” in his groin before the bottom of the 10th.
“We decided it was best to get him out of there and re-evaluate tomorrow,” Williams said.
The Nationals have lost three of their first four games against the NL East rival Braves this season. Atlanta won las year’s season series 13-6.
Williams said the good news was his team rallied after trailing 4-0.
“Bottom line to it was we got back in the game and had a chance to win it,” Williams said.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez’s bench already was thin when he used Schafer.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to use all the bullets you can,” Gonzalez said.
Luis Avilan (2-1) pitched around two walks, one intentional, in the 10th.
Atlanta burst ahead with a four-run second against Tanner Roark, who allowed five runs and five hits in 4 2-3 innings. He hadn’t pitched since a win over the Mets on April 4.
Roark, who hit three batters with pitches, said he wasn’t affected by the long layoff.
“No, I felt great out there,” Roark said. “I just didn’t really have the command of my pitches that I wanted.”
Upton hit a solo home run in the eighth off Tyler Clippard that tied the score 6-all, his third homer in two games. Gonzalez said Upton had “about as pretty a swing as you’re going to see” on the homer to centerfield.
Clippard’s blown save left his ERA at 5.40.
“He’s our guy,” Williams said. “We’re going to put him in there. I’m confident. He’s confident. He’s the guy that we’ll go to.”
Atlanta’s Ramiro Pena and Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman hit three-run drives — Zimmerman following a throwing error by Dan Uggla on a routine grounder to second.
Denard Span’s single off David Carpenter drove in Harper in the eighth to put the Nationals ahead 6-5.
Julio Teheran gave up five runs — two earned — and 10 hits in six innings. Ian Desmond had a run-scoring single in the fourth, when the Nationals left the bases loaded.
Williams used his appeal in the seventh inning when Adam LaRoche was called out at the plate when trying to score on Jordan Walden’s wild pitch with Harper batting. The pitch bounced away from catcher Evan Gattis toward the Nationals dugout. Gattis finally spotted the ball and threw to Walden, who made the tag. Plate umpire Adrian Johnson’s call was confirmed in the video review.
Braves closer Craig Kimbrel struck out Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche and Zimmerman in the ninth. Washington’s Drew Storen fanned Pena, Ryan Doumit and Jason Heyward in the bottom of the inning.
Pena made his second straight start for shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who jammed his right wrist in a home-plate collision on Wednesday night.
NOTES: Nationals RHP Doug Fister (DL, back muscle) threw 35 pitches in the bullpen before the game. “He was really impressive,” Williams said. “The ball had good life.” Williams said Fister will go on a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment after he increases his pitch count in bullpen sessions. ... Roark hit Freeman, Uggla and Upton with pitches. ... Braves LHP Alex Wood is to face Nationals RHP Taylor Jordan in the second game of the series on Saturday night.