ATLANTA (AP) The Braves ended their five-game losing streak but gained no ground in their longshot chase for the playoffs.
Three runs scored when Christian Bethancourt’s sixth-inning single bounced off first baseman Tyler Moore’s glove and into right field, lifting Atlanta to a 3-1 win over a Washington Nationals’ lineup of backups on Wednesday night.
The Braves remained 5 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh for the second NL wild card with 10 games remaining. Losses in 11 of 14 games before Wednesday night left Atlanta in need of a lot of help.
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”For us, every game is Game 7,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Steven Souza Jr. hit his first career homer for the Nationals. Washington manager Matt Williams gave his regulars a day off one day after the Nationals clinched the NL East title.
Alex Wood (11-10) allowed one run on five hits with eight strikeouts in six innings. Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth for his 44th save, his first since Sept. 6.
Souza’s homer off Wood in the fifth gave Washington a 1-0 lead.
The Braves loaded the bases against Ross Detwiler (2-3) in the sixth before Bethancourt grounder bounced into right field. Jason Heyward, who was hit by a pitch, scored all the way from first base, following Phil Gosselin and Freddie Freeman across the plate.
”He never stopped running and never put his head down and that got us another run,” Gonzalez said of Heyward’s hustle on the bases.
Shortstop Danny Espinosa’s throwing error allowed Bethancourt to advance to third base. Bethancourt was awarded two RBIs.
Gosselin had three hits but said Bethancourt had the biggest at-bat.
”We finally had a guy come through in that big spot with (runners) on,” Gosselin said.
Blake Treinen allowed only three hits and one walk in five scoreless innings in his first start since June 28. He lowered his ERA to 1.94.
”Every chance we’ve given him he’s pitched really well this year,” Williams said. ”He’s still in the learning process of being a starter. He’s served multiple roles for us this year but right now it’s important that we not push him too hard because we potentially need him to make another start for us.”
Williams said Treinen could start in a doubleheader against Miami on Sept. 26.
Williams gave his rotation an extra day to rest, pushing Gio Gonzalez, who had been scheduled to start, and other starters back a day.
Souza was hitting just .067 with no homers and no RBIs in 16 games before he crushed a 1-1 pitch from Wood over the centerfield wall.
The Nationals have homered in 22 consecutive road games, the second-longest streak in baseball history. The record is 24 consecutive road games by Baltimore in 1966.
WHO’S ON FIRST?
Braves assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher filled in for Terry Pendleton, who had back discomfort, as the first base coach.
Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman continued his rehab from a hamstring injury by playing five innings in the Florida Instructional League. He played two innings at third base, three at first base and had four hits in eight at-bats in the simulated game.
Braves: C Evan Gattis missed his ninth straight game with strep throat but could return any day. General manager Frank Wren said follow-up tests revealed Gattis has a kidney stone, and that condition was worsened by the strep throat and dehydration.
Heyward, hit on his left thumb by a pitch in the sixth, left the game in the eighth and was having X-rays after the game. SS Andrelton Simmons also left the game early with a sore left ankle.
Nationals: Gonzalez and other starters all were pushed back a day to make room for Treinen’s start. Gonzalez (8-10) will face Brad Hand as the Nationals open a series at Miami on Thursday night.
Braves: The Braves, off on Thursday, open a home series against the Mets on Friday night when RHP Julio Teheran (13-12) faces RHP Zack Wheeler (10-10).