Braves comeback bid falls short vs. Nats

ATLANTA (AP) — Andrelton Simmons gave Atlanta a
chance.

Michael Morse had a quick answer for
Washington.

Morse had four hits, including the
go-ahead homer in the eighth inning after Washington had blown a
four-run lead, and the Nationals beat the Braves 5-4 on Friday
night.

The Braves trailed 4-0 through six innings
before rallying with four runs in the seventh, including Simmons’
two-run homer off Ross Detwiler, to tie the
game.

Morse’s leadoff homer to right field off Chad
Durbin in the eighth gave the lead back to
Washington.

“He’s got a lot of juice going that way,”
Durbin said. “We come back, score four, it would have been nice to keep
it even.”

The Nationals, who swept a three-game
series in Atlanta on May 25-27, are 5-1 against the Braves this season.
NL East-leading Washington is 4 games ahead of Atlanta. The Nationals
began the night 3 games ahead of the Mets.

“The good
thing is we battled back and made a hell of a game,” Braves manager
Fredi Gonzalez said.

Simmons said the loss hurt
because the Braves fought back.

“You want the games
like this because you want emotional games,” Simmons said. “You want to
battle and win so after you win you feel good about yourself, you feel
like you accomplished something. But after battling that much and
losing, it hurts.”

Jesus Flores homered and Ian
Desmond had a two-run single for Washington.

Morse
was under instructions to let manager Davey Johnson know if he had more
tightness in his right hamstring, a problem that emerged this week in
Colorado. Morse let Johnson know in the seventh inning “it was
tightening up a little bit.”

Morse’s big home-run
swing in the eighth allowed him to protect the hamstring as he casually
jogged around the bases.

“I told him his swing kept
him from running,” Johnson said with a smile.

The
homer was only the third for Morse but it was his second in two days.
Morse, who hit 31 homers in his breakout season with Washington in 2011,
hit a three-run homer at Colorado on Thursday.

“He’s
been looking better and better every day,” Johnson said. “It’s nice to
have him back. … We’ll probably move him back into the cleanup
spot.”

Sean Burnett (1-1) gave up one hit in 1 1-3
scoreless innings. Tyler Clippard gave up a leadoff double to Freddie
Freeman in the ninth before recovering for his 13th
save.

Clippard walked Martin Prado with one out,
putting runners on first and second. Michael Bourn flied out to center
and Clippard ended the game on Simmons’ flyball to
right.

Durbin (3-1) gave up two hits and a run while
recording two outs in the eighth. Jonny Venters struck out Bryce Harper
with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Detwiler
allowed only two hits through six scoreless innings, but he couldn’t
hold the 4-0 lead in the seventh.

Detwiler hit
Freeman with a pitch and then bobbled a bunt by Jack Wilson, who was
awarded an infield hit. A balk by Detwiler moved the runners to second
and third.

Pinch-hitter Prado’s single drove in
Freeman. Bourn’s fly ball scored Wilson, and Simmons followed with his
tying two-run homer, knocking Detwiler out of the
game.

Detwiler gave up four runs, five hits and a
walk in 6 2-3 innings.

Randall Delgado lasted only
four innings, giving up seven hits and four runs, two
earned.

“Delgado didn’t pitch particularly well,”
Gonzalez said.

Delgado was hurt by third-inning
errors by second baseman Jack Wilson and Simmons, the rookie shortstop,
which led to two unearned runs.

Wilson, starting at
second base for the first time this season, dropped a grounder by Adam
LaRoche for the first error with two outs. Morse singled past Chipper
Jones at third. Simmons retrieved the ball in shallow left and threw
past Wilson at second base for another error, allowing the runners to
advance. Desmond drove in LaRoche and Morse with a single to
left.

“I was too aggressive. Just a little immature
of me,” Simmons said. “I’ve got to be better than
that.”

Detwiler was 0-for-14 this season before his
second-inning single drove in Morse, who had singled, for Washington’s
first run. Flores pushed the lead to 4-0 with his homer off Delgado in
the fourth.

NOTES: The temperature
for the first pitch was 101 degrees. … Braves 2B Dan Uggla, hitting
only .156 (12 for 77) in June, received his first day off this season.
… Gonzalez plans to rest Jones on Saturday and C Brian McCann on
Sunday. … Prado did not start. Gonzalez says Prado has been playing
with a sore right hamstring. … Nationals RHP Drew Storen, recovering
from a right elbow injury, moved closer to an injury rehabilitation
assignment by throwing to hitters before the regular batting practice.
Johnson said Storen could return before the All-Star break. …
Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg will try for his 10th win when he faces
Braves LHP Mike Minor in the second game of the three-game series on
Saturday.