Braves bullpen falls short again, Nationals complete sweep
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Atlanta Braves aren’t getting much relief from their bullpen these days.
Wilson Ramos hit a tiebreaking double that capped a two-run rally in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals completed a three-game sweep by beating the Braves 5-4 Sunday.
“You’ve got to get 27 outs and we only got 24 of them,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “But we battle. Every single game we battle. And I’m proud of our club for that.”
Cody Martin (1-2) lost for the second day in a row. On Saturday, he gave up Bryce Harper’s winning home run in the ninth inning after Atlanta had come back from a five-run deficit to tie it.
On Sunday, Atlanta turned a three-run deficit into a 4-3 lead. But Ian Desmond singled off Martin to open the eighth and Jayson Werth walked. After Bryce Harper popped out, Ryan Zimmerman hit a tying single, but Werth was tagged out after rounding second and falling. Ramos then doubled to the deep right.
Martin has been part of a team-wide trend, with the Braves relievers tagged for an 8.33 ERA over the last 12 games (35 2-3 innings.)
“We’ve got to mix and match out of the bullpen and we haven’t been able to do it,” Gonzalez said.
Alex Wood allowed three runs in the first but then settled to go 6 2-3 innings as the Braves tied it by the middle of the third.
“Sometimes that just happens,” Wood said of his first inning, “especially against the caliber of club we were up against all weekend.”
Wood allowed eight hits and a walk while striking out seven. He left the game with the lead after Alberto Callaspo’s bloop single scored Freddie Freeman to give the Braves the lead in the seventh.
Wood helped his own cause with a second-inning RBI single. He had two more singles against Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann and doubled his career hit total to six.
He couldn’t remember his last three-hit game.
“Oh, god — high school. Easily,” Wood said. “And they didn’t come very often in high school, probably.”
Sammy Solis (1-0) pitched one inning for his first major league win and Drew Storen closed for his ninth save.
Gonzalez produced 30 different lineup cards (not including the pitcher’s spot) over the first 30 games. On Sunday, the Braves became the last team to repeat a lineup as Gonzalez went with the same top eight he used Saturday.
Zimmermann allowed three runs in six grinding innings and admitted that Wood’s big day at the plate might’ve bruised his ego a little. “It hurts every time a pitcher gets a hit, but for him to go 3 for 3, yeah, it stings a little bit,” he said.
Shelby Miller (4-1, 1.66), coming off a three-hit shutout against the Phillies, pitches Monday night in the opener of the Braves’ series at Cincinnati.
Gonzalez said RHP Jason Grilli was unavailable Sunday and has been battling back spasms. “He is getting better,” Gonzalez said. “He’s getting closer, hopefully. We’ll see how quickly we get him on the field.” Grilli has nine saves in 10 appearances.