Braves-Nationals Preview

A victory in the opener of their final regular-season road

series has the Atlanta Braves breathing a little easier for the

moment.

The Braves look to take a another step toward clinching the NL

wild card Saturday afternoon against the Washington Nationals.

After losing two of three each to the New York Mets and Florida

in its previous two series, Atlanta (89-68) regrouped to win 7-4 at

Washington on Friday. More importantly for the Braves, their

wild-card lead increased to three games after St. Louis lost to the

Chicago Cubs later in the evening.

Dan Uggla had three hits with two RBIs and Brian McCann also

drove in two runs as the Braves moved a step closer to their second

straight wild card.

“Good, good momentum boost,” veteran third baseman Chipper

Jones said.

Though Uggla is batting just .234 this season, he’s 15 for 36

(.417) with nine RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak versus

Washington.

Scheduled Atlanta starter Brandon Beachy (7-2, 3.58 ERA) looks

to get back on track after posting a 5.06 ERA and getting no

decisions in his last four starts – all Braves losses – since

beating the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Aug. 25.

The rookie right-hander has yielded four runs in each of his

last two starts, the most recent coming Sunday when he struck out

eight but also matched a season high with five walks over 4 1-3

innings of a 7-5 loss to the Mets. His 160 strikeouts this season

set a post-1900 franchise mark for a rookie.

“At this point, that (record) means next to nothing to me,”

Beachy told the Braves’ official website. “I’ve pitched really

poorly my last several outings.”

He pitched just well enough to beat Washington on the road Aug.

3, yielding four runs in five innings of a 6-4 victory.

Jayson Werth homered off Beachy in that contest and is 3 for 8

with a double against him overall. He homered and drove in two runs

Friday, but couldn’t prevent the Nationals (76-80) from having

their five-game winning streak snapped.

Werth has a been disappointment overall during his first season

in Washington, batting .232 with 20 homers and 58 RBIs, but he’s

hitting .381 (8 for 21) with three home runs and five RBIs in his

last six games versus Atlanta.

Washington’s Chien-Ming Wang (3-3, 4.31) makes his 11th and

final start of a respectable abbreviated comeback season from 2009

shoulder surgery.

“Hopefully I can come back here, but the decision is made by the

team,” Wang told the Nationals’ official website. “But personally I

would like to come back. I really appreciate their patience the

last two years. Hopefully in the future I can win more games for

them.”

The right-hander won for the first time in six starts when he

allowed three runs on two homers in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-3 victory

over Florida on Sunday. He is 0-2 with a 5.06 ERA against the

Braves this season.