Monday, August 11, 2014
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Wood strikes out 12 as Braves defeat Nationals

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[August 11, 2014]  ATLANTA -- Maybe it's because he pitched at the University of Georgia, but there's plenty of Bulldog in left-hander Alex Wood.

On Sunday, with his team badly in need of a win, Wood came up big. He struck out a career-high 12 batters and pitched the Atlanta Braves to a 3-1 win over the Washington Nationals at Turner Field.

"He pitched great," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He competes and he makes pitches. Woody was definitely the player of the game. He made some terrific pitches when he needed to."

Wood (8-9) allowed five hits and one run over 7 1/3 innings. He threw 124 pitches, the most in his two-year career, and won for the first time since July 20. The left-hander improved to 2-1 against Washington with a 1.48 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings.

"It was a lot of fun and we found a way to win," Wood said.

Second-place Atlanta won two of three games in the series against the Nationals and pulled to within 3 1/2 games of first-place Washington in the National League East. Atlanta is 9-3 against Washington.

Wood left with one runner on base in the eighth, but reliever David Carpenter threw one pitch and induced shortstop Ian Desmond into an inning-ending double play. Closer Craig Kimbrel, working for the third consecutive day, pitched a scoreless ninth to record his 34th save.

"The thing I like about Woody is he competes," Gonzalez said. "He'll beat me here (to the ballpark) tomorrow. His preparation is second to none."

Washington starter Gio Gonzalez (6-9) was chased after 4 2/3 innings and 111 pitches. He struck out eight -- all six of Atlanta's outs in the first two innings were on strikeouts -- but allowed six hits and four walks that led to two runs.

"He didn't command as well as he wanted to," Washington manager Matt Williams said.

Atlanta broke a tie and took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth. Center fielder Emilio Bonifacio singled, second baseman Tommy La Stella walked and first baseman Freddie Freeman grounded into a double play, sending Bonifacio to third.

Gonzalez walked Upton, whom he pitched around in order to face left-handed-hitting Jason Heyward. However, the right fielder ruined the strategy by grounding a ball just past the glove of first baseman Adam LaRoche and reaching safely when Gonzalez failed to cover the bag. The infield hit allowed Bonifacio to score.

"He got caught watching the play," Williams said. "Rochie went for the ball and we had a shot. Ultimately that was the difference in things. That play made the difference."

Wood said, "That was definitely a big home run by Justin and Jason had a big hustle play and beat one out and that was the difference."

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The Braves added an insurance run in the eighth inning against reliever Jerry Blevins. Pinch hitter Evan Gattis blooped an opposite-field single into right that scored third baseman Chris Johnson.

The Nationals scored first when shortstop Ian Desmond led off the fourth inning with a solo home run over the 390-foot sign in right-center field. It was his team-leading 19th homer of the season.

The Braves got the run back in the bottom of the fourth when left fielder Justin Upton lined his 21st homer to left field. It was his 1,000th career hit and his 500th career RBI.

Washington center fielder Denard Span extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a double in the fifth inning. He finished 2-for-4, reaching base in his 36th consecutive game.

NOTES: The Nationals placed OF Steven Souza Jr. on the 15-day disabled list due to a left shoulder contusion and recalled OF Michael Taylor from Triple-A Syracuse. Souza injured his shoulder Friday when he crashed into the right-field fence trying to catch a home run. ... Washington RF Jayson Werth returned to the starting lineup after sitting out two starts with a sore ankle and sore shoulder. He appeared as a pinch hitter Saturday. ... Atlanta continues its 10-game homestand Monday when the Dodgers come in for four games. The opener features Atlanta RHP Julio Teheran (10-8) against Los Angeles RHP Kevin Correia (5-13), who was just acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Twins. ... After an off day, Washington sends RHP Doug Fister (11-3) to start the series opener at New York. The Mets' pitcher is uncertain after RHP Jacob deGrom was scratched because of a sore shoulder.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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