Braves blasted in finale against Nationals

WASHINGTON (AP) — After winning the first two games
of their four-game weekend series, Atlanta was looking to move closer to
Washington in the National League East. Losses in the last two gave the
Braves a split and put them back where they were at the start — 3 1/2
games behind the Nationals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered
twice and drove in three runs, and Danny Espinosa and Roger Bernadina
each had three hits and two RBIs as Washington finished with 18 hits in a
9-2 victory Sunday.

“Today was not good from pitch
one,” Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. “But we came in here and
held our own for the most part. Thought we played well for the most
part. We’re right back where we started.”

After
Washington blew a 9-0 lead Friday night in an 11-10 loss, the teams
split a Saturday doubleheader with the Nationals taking the
nightcap.

Atlanta’s arms and bats share blame in the
losses.

Starting with the late stages of Friday’s
thriller through the fourth inning of Saturday’s late game, Atlanta held
Washington scoreless for 15 innings. From there, the Braves gave up 14
runs over the next 13 innings — including eight in the first five
innings on Sunday.

The primary culprit in the finale
was Jair Jurrjens (3-4), who allowed six runs and nine hits in 2 1-3
innings. Zimmerman’s two-run homer and Espinosa’s double keyed a
four-run first.

In the fourth, Zimmerman’s solo shot
and Espinosa’s RBI double finished off the Braves’
starter.

“Getting to two strikes was easy for me
today,” said Jurrjens, who jumped ahead 1-2 in the count both times
Zimmerman homered. “After two strikes, I didn’t know how to make a
quality pitch to get them out. I made a lot of mistakes, a lot of
pitches came over the plate and they make it
hurt.”

In his last two starts, Jurrjens has allowed
14 runs and 17 hits in six innings.

“We’ve struggled
with our consistency because we’ve struggled at the end of our rotation.
You saw it today, ” said a disheartened Jones, who finished 2 for 4.
“It’s a little demoralizing when you’re in a dogfight for the division
and you’re constantly fighting from behind.”

After
taking a 2-0 first-inning lead in Saturday night’s meeting, the Braves
bats went silent, scoring only two runs over their final 17 innings of
the series. By the time Martin Prado and Jason Heyward scored on a
passed ball and grounder, respectively, in the sixth, Atlanta had too
much ground to make up.

Atlanta’s best hope against
Nationals starter Ross Detwiler (5-3) came in the fourth. Trailing 6-0,
three singles in the inning brought up Brian McCann with the bases
loaded and one out. The Braves’ catcher has been producing home runs
lately, but McCann grounded back to the mound for an inning-ending
double play.

“They got out of it with probably our
hottest hitter, with Mac at the plate,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez
said. “He just happened to hit a 1-2-3 double play and that kind of took
the steam out of it. You feel like in the course of the game like that
there’s going to be an opportunity, somewhere where your team gets back
in it somehow. That was our opportunity and we didn’t take advantage of
it. Detwiler kind of settled down a little bit and the rest is
history.”

Detwiler allowed two runs and seven hits in
seven innings to win his first game since May
3.

Bernadina has reached base on six hits and a walk
in his last seven plate appearances. Michael Morse had three hits and
scored three runs for the
Nationals.

NOTES: Zimmerman had
his 10th career multi-home run game — his first since Aug. 5, 2010. …
Jurrjens has an 11.29 ERA in his last four starts against the
Nationals. … Atlanta RHP Luis Avilan had his first major league hit —
a single in the fifth inning. … The Braves play three games in Miami
starting on Monday. LHP Mike Minor (5-6, 5.69) is scheduled against RHP
Josh Johnson (5-7, 4.35).