Saturday, August 09, 2014
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Braves slam four homers in win over Nationals

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[August 09, 2014]  ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves found the answer to their offensive woes for at least one night.

The Braves slammed four home runs Friday night and hung on to beat the Washington Nationals 7-6 and end their eight-game losing streak.

"It was nice to shake hands after the game," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It seems like it's been an eternity."

The Braves had scored only 18 runs and gone 0-8 on their recently completed West Coast road trip. But they came out swinging against Washington ace Stephen Strasburg (8-10), who was tagged for four home runs for the first time in his career.

Atlanta improved to 7-3 against the National League East leader and cut the Nationals' lead to 3 1/2 games in the division.

Atlanta got home runs from left fielder Justin Upton, center fielder B.J. Upton, first baseman Freddie Freeman and second baseman Tommy La Stella. It marked the second time this season and a major-league record fifth time in their careers that the Uptons have homered in the same game.

"Justin hit that ball to straightaway center against Strasburg. ... That's not an easy feat," Gonzalez said.

The Braves continued their dominance over Strasburg, who has allowed 22 earned runs in 28 1/3 innings in seven starts at Turner Field. Strasburg struck out nine batters, giving him a league-leading 186, but his career record against the Braves fell to 3-6.

"You can't put a finger on anything," Washington manager Matt Williams said. "They put some good swings on it."

Atlanta starter Ervin Santana (11-6) retired the first nine Washington batters and was in command until the sixth inning, when the Nationals scored four times. Santana pitched six innings and allowed four runs and four hits with four strikeouts. He did not return after a rain delay of one hour and 11 minutes in the sixth inning.

"Finally we get the win," Santana said. "It's tough, but you keep concentrating and do your job."

Braves reliever Anthony Varvaro allowed two runs in the seventh and was relieved by Jordan Walden with two outs and the tying runner at second. Walden retired third baseman Anthony Rendon on a line drive to center field to end the threat.

Walden retired all four batters he faced and turned it over to closer Craig Kimbrel, who pitched a scoreless ninth and posted his 33rd save.

"Walden did a great job to retire those four hitters," Gonzalez said. "The last seven batters were retired by Walden and Kimbrel and that was good."

The Nationals closed the gap by scoring four times in the sixth inning. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera knocked in a run with a single and Rendon followed with a three-run homer, his 15th home run of the season.

Washington added a run in the seventh inning on a solo homer by catcher Wilson Ramos, his fifth. Cabrera cut the lead to 7-6 on a sacrifice fly to left.

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"We got down early but fought back hard," Williams said. "It was just not quite enough at the end. An ordinary team would fold down that many runs that early in the game. Our guys fought."

The Braves jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning when Justin Upton pounded a two-run homer to straightaway center field, his 20th home run of the season.

Atlanta extended the lead to 6-0 with four runs in the second inning. B.J. Upton hit a two-run homer, his eighth home run of the season, and Freeman hit a two-run homer, his 16th home run this year.

Washington right fielder Steven Souza Jr. was injured on Freeman's homer. He tried to make a leaping grab and slammed his left shoulder into the fence. Souza batted in the third inning but was replaced in the bottom half of the inning by Kevin Frandsen. Souza will be examined again on Saturday.

Atlanta added a solo home run from La Stella in the fifth inning, the first homer of his career, to take a 7-0 lead.

NOTES: The Braves honored new Hall of Fame members Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Bobby Cox with an on-field ceremony before the game. Their plaques will be on display at the stadium through the weekend. ... Atlanta will wear a "PETE" patch on the left chest of their jerseys for the remainder of the season in honor of announcer Pete Van Wieren, who called games for the team for 33 years until his retirement. Van Wieren died last Saturday after a long bout with lung cancer. ... The second game of the three-game series on Saturday features Washington RHP Tanner Roark (11-7) against Atlanta's Aaron Harang (9-6). ... Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said SS Andrelton Simmons (ankle) isn't likely to play this weekend but could return by early next week. ... Washington CF Denard Span extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single in the fourth inning Friday night. He has reached base in 34 straight games, the second-longest streak in club history. ... Washington OF Jayson Werth sat out the game with a sprained right ankle and sore right shoulder. His status will be reassessed on Saturday.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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