Nationals 4 (67-89), Braves 2 (87-69)
WP: Burnett (1-7)
LP: Farnsworth (0-2)
SV: Storen (5)
It looked like we were in for another performance from Brandon Beachy like we got on Monday in Philadelphia...but after a rough first 2 innings, Beachy found a groove and ended up pitching really well for his second career start. Overall on the day, he threw 5 innings and allowed only 5 hits, allowing 2 earned while walking 3 and striking out 9. Nine strikeouts in your second career start? Yeah, I'll take that. I think we saw more of the true Beachy after the second inning. He'd retire 7 in a row at one point. Then after a solid outing from Beachy, the bullpen collapsed. Mike Dunn was actually the best of the bunch, throwing a perfect 6th with a pair of strikeouts. Then came the 7th...Kyle Farnsworth got 2 outs, and walked 2 guys. He wasn't allowed to get out of his jam, and Jonny Venters was brought in (for the 7th time on this 9 game road trip). He was all over the place, walking a batter on 4 pitches before falling behind Ian Desmond 2-1 and allowing a dribbler of a single up the middle to plate 2 runs and give the Nats the lead. He'd fall behind Adam Dunn 3-1 before getting him out, but just a little too late. Craig Kimbrel allowed a pair of baserunners in the 8th, but escaped unscathed after a pair of strikeouts. Thank god.
The offense was garbage again today. 2 runs, both driven in by a spot starting Rick Ankiel. The first run came off a solo homer to right center in the 5th, and the second came after back to back doubles in the 7th by Melky Cabrera and Ankiel. That was the prime chance to get another run, with a man on second and no one out...but Matt Diaz pathetically struck out on 3 pitches, Omar Infante struck out on a 2-2 pitch that was a good foot outside, and Jason Heyward grounded out to end the inning. The Braves wouldn't have another baserunner after Ankiel's double. 7 hits on the day, 2 for Martin Prado and 2 for Ankiel. Brian McCann would single and walk to join the multiple on base club. The offense started off well, with 2 men on in the first inning. Naturally, McCann lined into a double play to snuff that threat out right off the reel. The Braves also put men on 2nd and 3rd in the 4th, after McCann singled and got pegged in the head with Adam Dunn's throw to second on a potential DP. EVVVERYONE'S SAFE, but the Braves don't do squat with the scoring chance, with an Alex Gonzalez pop up and a Cabrera lineout. Gonzalez snuffed out a scoring threat in the 6th with a double play when the Braves had 2 on. Thank god Escobar is struggling in Toronto too, otherwise people would be even more livid about that one.
Phillies lost, so are still a win or one more Braves loss away from clinching the division. Giants are leading 3-0 in the 6th, Padres are leading 2-1 in the third. Braves are currently tied in the wild card race with San Francisco, so they need to lose if the Braves are going to keep pace. God, what has become of this season? Horribly depressing. Tomorrow, the hated Marlins come to Atlanta for the final homestand of the series. Alex Sanabia will take the hill against Tommy Hanson. Hanson was great on Wednesday in Philly, but got handed a no decision because Roy Oswalt was also pretty great. He's won 3 times in his last 18 starts, but not because he's pitching poorly. Gotta love win/loss records.
But anyway. To say these final 6 games are huge is an understatement. The Braves need to go on one hell of a run if they want to get into the playoffs. The Giants have 3 with Arizona starting Tuesday, while the Padres have 3 with the Cubs. The teams will meet in San Francisco on the final weekend of the season, so at least the Braves would be able to pick up ground on someone there.