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Nats oust Braves from postseason race

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ATLANTA (AP)

The only champagne in Atlanta's clubhouse was intended for an individual milestone. The Braves' hopes of a playoff celebration were dashed for the fourth straight year. Pete Orr hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning and the Washington Nationals beat Atlanta 2-1 on Thursday night, hours after the Braves were eliminated from postseason contention. Orr's one-out single to left field drove in Ryan Zimmerman, who opened the ninth with a double off Rafael Soriano (1-6). "We're playing the game the right way," Orr said of the Nationals, who lead the majors with 103 losses but have won four straight. "Hopefully, we're going in the right direction." After the game, two bottles of champagne sat in a small cooler beside Garret Anderson's locker in the Atlanta clubhouse to commemorate his 2,500th hit. The little drama remaining in Atlanta's late playoff push ended about 60 minutes before the game when Colorado clinched at least the NL wild card with a 9-2 win over Milwaukee. "I was watching the game," said Atlanta right-hander Tommy Hanson, who gave up one run in seven innings. "It wasn't going to change how I went out and pitched today. I still wanted to go out on a good note." Hanson struck out nine and finished his rookie season 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA. He struck out at least seven in his last five starts. "We expected him to pitch well," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He's had a great year, a really great year." Hanson, who made 21 starts, is the first Atlanta rookie to make at least 20 starts and finish a season with an ERA under 3.00. The Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966. "It's going to be a pleasure to watch him get better," catcher Brian McCann said. Tyler Clippard (4-2) pitched 2 1-3 scoreless innings for Washington but was lifted with two outs in the ninth. Clippard walked Yunel Escobar, who advanced to third on Ryan Church's single. Mike MacDougal earned his 19th save when pinch-hitter Omar Infante grounded out. Nate McLouth gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead with his 19th homer to lead off the third inning. The Nationals tied it in the fourth when Willie Harris singled and scored on Zimmerman's double off the right-field wall. Washington's Garrett Mock, who has lost six straight decisions since his last win on Aug. 25, gave up one run on five hits and four walks in six innings. The Braves hit into double plays in the first, third and fifth and had groundouts on 15 of the 16 outs recorded by Mock. "I kept the ball down," Mock said. "I let them hit it on the ground. ... You have to trust your defense. When you do, good things happen." Anderson had two hits, including a second-inning single to achieve the milestone. He is the 89th player to reach 2,500 hits, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. "They're just accomplishments that you have a chance to reach when you play a lot of years," he said. Anderson ranks seventh among active players. He is in his first season with the Braves after playing for the Angels from 1994-2008. The 37-year-old Anderson, hitting .275, downplayed his chance to reach 3,000 hits. "I don't know. It was hard enough getting to where I am right now, so the next 500, it'll be tough," he said.

Notes

Washington interim manager Jim Riggleman said LHP Ross Detwiler will start Saturday against Atlanta RHP Jair Jurrjens. ... Mike Morse was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts for the Nationals. ... Zimmerman's two doubles lifted his season total to 35. ... Orr played in Atlanta from 2005-07.
Tagged: Braves, Nationals

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