It took a while to get this one started — and finished — but for the Washington Nationals, it was well worth the wait.
A steady rain delayed the start back to after many folks’ bedtimes on the east coast, then extra innings delayed the outcome that much further. But a three-run outburst in the 11th inning lifted the Nats to a 4-1 win over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
The Nats extend their division lead back to 4 1/2 games.
Anthony Rendon led off the 11th with a single off Braves reliever David Carpenter and went to second on Adam LaRoche’s ground ball single to right. Carpenter got Ian Desmond to line out to left, though Justin Upton took a bad route and had to make a circus catch on the hard liner.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez lifted Carpenter in favor of James Russell, but Russell walked Bryce Harper on five pitches. Gonzalez went back to his pen, this time for Anthony Varvaro, who gave up a pair of runs in Friday night’s game.
Wilson Ramos greeted Varvaro with a soft liner to center for an RBI single. Kevin Frandsen followed with a double to the right field corner that scored LaRoche and Harper. The Braves muffed the relay to the infield, and Ramos tried to score. He was originally called safe as Even Gattis made a very high tag on the slide, but after review Ramos was ruled out.
Regardless, the Nats had their three-run lead.
All that was left was for Rafael Soriano to pitch the bottom of the inning, and he did so uneventfully for his 26th save of the season.
Previously to the 11th inning, all the scoring in this one came back in the sixth. LaRoche hit a solo homer off Braves starter Aaron Harang, his 16th of the season, then in the bottom the Braves evened it up as they loaded the bases with no outs against Nats starter Tanner Roark, then a sacrifice fly by Jason Heyward tied the game.
Roark wiggled out of the inning allowing just the one run as he struck out Gattis and got a comebacker from Chris Johnson to end the frame.
Roark had another terrific outing, allowing just the one run on six hits and three walks over seven innings, striking out six.
NATS NOTES: CSNWashington’s Mark Zuckerman reported before the game the Nats plan to recall OF Michael Taylor from AAA Syracuse before Sunday’s game. Taylor has had a breakout season in the minors. No corresponding move was announced, though Jayson Werth and Steven Souza Jr. both played Saturday in the late innings.
- Denard Span continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-5. His average is up to .305 for the year.
- Harper went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
- The Nats were 2-for-7 with RISP and left seven on base.
- Desmond went 0-for-5, but did steal a base.
- LaRoche went 3-for-5 with a homer, two runs and an RBI.