Nats lose another one to division rivals
ATLANTA -- Andrelton Simmons hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, then made an eye-popping play to start the ninth as the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 on Monday night and ended their four-game losing streak.
Atlanta beat the Nationals for the eighth straight time dating to last season. The Braves swept three games at Washington earlier this month.
Washington's Stephen Strasburg ended his career-worst streak of losses in four straight starts. He allowed two runs in six innings.
Ian Desmond led off the ninth with a slow grounder that Simmons charged. The Atlanta shortstop slipped as he fielded the ball and fell on his backside, but somehow fired a strike from the seat of his pants that first baseman Freddie Freeman caught his a big stretch.
Desmond was called out on a close play and disagreed with the decision. Washington manager Davey Johnson came out to argue with umpire Tim Timmons.
Gerald Laird led off the Braves' seventh with a walk from Tyler Clippard (1-1). Laird moved up on pinch-hitter Tyler Pastonicky's sacrifice bunt and was held at third on Jordan Schafer's single.
Simmons' fly ball to right allowed Laird to slide safely headfirst across the plate.
Jordan Walden (1-0) struck out three in 12Ú3 hitless innings. He replaced Julio Teheran, who allowed 10 hits and two runs in 51Ú3 innings.
Eric O'Flaherty struck out two in a perfect eighth and Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his ninth save.
Strasburg gave up six hits, walked four and struck out eight. He looked uncomfortable in the first inning as his first pitch to Schafer sailed to the backstop. Schafer walked, stole second and scored on Justin Upton's soft single.
Freeman followed Upton's hit with a single to left field, but took a wide turn around first and was thrown out. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez argued the call with Timmons at first base, and replays indicated Freeman's hand was on the bag before he was tagged.
Former Braves star Chipper Jones visited his former teammate and hunting buddy Adam LaRoche, now the Nationals' first baseman, before the game. Jones, who has said he has possible interest in becoming a hitting coach, watched video with LaRoche of the slumping left-handed hitter's swing.
The video review with Jones must have helped as LaRoche led off the second inning with a single to snap his 0-for-26 drought. LaRoche's hit started a string of four straight singles, including run-scoring hits by Chad Tracy and Kurt Suzuki, to give Washington a 2-1 lead.
Freeman walked to lead off the fourth, and singles by Dan Uggla and Laird made it 2-all.
Washington's Jayson Werth crumpled to the ground after fouling a ball off his left foot in the eighth. He completed his at-bat -- a strikeout -- and was replaced in right field by Roger Bernadina in the bottom of the inning.
Notes » Braves right fielder Jason Heyward sat at his clubhouse locker but clearly was far from full strength one week after having his appendix removed. Heyward said he hopes to return no later than the May 24-26 series at the Mets. He said his doctor's instructions include, "No spinning, no twisting, no lifting the dog." ...
Washington catcher Wilson Ramos was activated from the 15-day DL but did not play as Johnson said he wanted to be careful not to push the strained left hamstring. Catcher Jhonatan Solano was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. ...
Schafer stole two bases. ...
The series continues Tuesday night when Braves righty Tim Hudson goes for his 200th career win, facing Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez.