Crank it up! Braves, 0-6 for 1st time since '88, play music
WASHINGTON (AP) Even if the Atlanta Braves are 0-6 for the first time in nearly 30 years, manager Fredi Gonzalez decided he didn't want his players moping around in a silent clubhouse.
Instead, he told them to crank up the music.
So a playlist consisting of Justin Bieber's ''Sorry,'' Michael Jackson's ''Black or White'' and Journey's ''Don't Stop Believin''' filled the room Monday night after the Braves' 6-4 loss to the Washington Nationals, who used Wilson Ramos' four singles and two RBIs to help cover up a shaky start by Max Scherzer.
''I told the guys: Keep your heads up. … Don't get down. We're playing good. If you have this in July – you lose five in a row or six in a row in July – nobody worries. It's the beginning of the season,'' Gonzalez said. ''And I am worried, but I know that we're playing good baseball. We're close to playing good baseball. And, you know, we're going to be a lot better off for it.''
The Braves, who led Washington 2-0 and 4-3, are off to their worst start since dropping their first 10 games in 1988.
Only three major league clubs have reached the postseason after starting 0-6, according to STATS LLC: Pittsburgh (1974), Cincinnati (1995) and Tampa Bay (2011).
''We've got to turn this thing around tomorrow,'' said starting pitcher Bud Norris (0-2), who allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings.
Scherzer (1-0), pitching on a full week's rest, won despite allowing two-run doubles to A.J. Pierzynski and Nick Markakis in the first two innings. The righty wound up going six innings and didn't let Atlanta score again in front of a sparse crowd announced as 18,119.
Ramos drove in the go-ahead run off Norris in the fifth, breaking a 4-all tie, and added insurance with an RBI single off Alexi Ogando in the seventh.
Daniel Murphy hit a two-run shot off Norris in the first. He is hitting .471 with two homers and seven RBIs in the first season of a $37.5 million, three-year contract.
''Good at-bats up and down the lineup,'' Murphy said. ''As an offense, I feel like we're able to put pressure on the pitcher continually.''
Four Nationals relievers combined for three scoreless innings, including Jonathan Papelbon, who earned his fourth save.
Mallex Smith had an eventful major league debut on the day he was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett and immediately put in Atlanta's starting lineup as the center fielder and leadoff hitter.
The 22-year-old Smith, at Double-A for part of last season, struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat. He reached on an infield single in the second and came around to score. Then, in the fourth, he got thrown out by Ramos while trying to steal second base. On that play, Smith was cut above the left eye while sliding and left the game.
He wound up needing five stitches.
''It probably looked worse than what it was,'' Smith said. ''I still haven't really felt too much pain. They numbed me up, got me some stitches. But I'm fine. I'll play with this seven days a week.''
NL MVP Bryce Harper went 0 for 3 with two walks and two stolen bases and struck out for the first time in 2016.
DUSTY ON CLOSERS
Baker spoke before the game about the ''special mentality'' it takes to be a successful closer in the majors, because ''as soon as you blow one, or whatever it is, people forget about the other five or six that you saved.'' Thinking back to his days as San Francisco's manager, Baker said: ''I had Rod Beck that saved 50-something in a row and he scared me to death (in) about 30 of `em. So you just learn that, `Hey, man, if he's not nervous, then I'm not nervous.'''
Braves: RHP Dan Winkler went on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right elbow. He was injured Sunday.
LHP Gio Gonzalez finally gets a chance to pitch Tuesday, making his first start of the season in Washington's sixth game. It's been more than two weeks since his last appearance in a game – a March 27 Grapefruit League exhibition.
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