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.