Nationals Score 3 Runs In 8th To Knock Off Braves, 9-7

Despite a bad outing from Gio Gonzalez, the Washington Nationals scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth as they beat the Braves, 9-7

Tonight, the Washington Nationals (81-57) only got three innings from their starter, Gio Gonzalez, against the Atlanta Braves (54-85). But, the bullpen was able to keep them in the game by giving up one run over the final six innings. The Nats found a way to score three runs in the bottom of the eighth to defeat the Braves, 9-7.

Atlanta jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Two batters into the game, Adonis Garcia hit a RBI double to right to score Ender Inciarte for the game’s first run. Two batters later, Matt Kemp hit a RBI groundout for the Braves’ second run.

One inning later, shortstop Dansby Swanson hit a ball to deep center field that Trea Turner misplayed. It hit the wall and Swanson ended up rounding all the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Swanson’s first home run of his career gave the Braves a 3-0 lead.

But, Gonzalez did try to help his own cause in the bottom of the inning when he hit a two-out single to center against Williams Perez that drove in Anthony Rendon, which put the Nats on the board. However, Gonzalez gave that run back in the top of the third when Freddie Freeman hit a RBI single to center.

In the bottom of the third, the Nats offense got on a hot streak. Jayson Werth, Daniel Murphy, and Bryce Harper started the inning with singles. Then, Rendon hit a 0-2 sinker over the wall in left for a grand slam. His 17th home run of the season put the Washington Nationals in front, 5-4.

The lead would go to 6-4 later in the inning when Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo home run to right center, his 14th of the season. That would be the last better Perez would face as he went 2.1 innings, gave up six runs on eight hits, and struck out two in the no-decision.

However, that lead would go away in the fourth. Gonzalez gave up a single and a double to start the inning before Dusty Baker brought in Matt Belisle. Belisle gave up a RBI groundout to Swanson and a RBI single to the pitcher, Joel De La Cruz, which tied the game at six. Both runs were charged to Gonzalez who went three innings, gave up six runs on eight hits, and struck out four on 85 pitches in a no-decision.

After Gonzalez, the Nats bullpen did a great job over the next five innings. Baker used six different relievers (Belisle, Sean Burnett, Blake Treinen, Shawn Kelley, Oliver Perez, and Koda Glover). They combined to give up one hit and strike out three. Glover would end up getting his second win of the season.

In the end, the Nats would break the tie in the eighth. Jose Ramirez walked Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa to start the inning. Then, pinch-hitter Ben Revere hit a bunt, which Tyler Flowers threw away into left, allowing pinch runner Michael Taylor to score for the go-ahead run. Turner provided the key insurance runs with a two-run single to left to give the Nats a 9-6 lead.

Mark Melancon came in to close it out in the ninth, but it wasn’t easy. Swanson picked up his third RBI of the night when he singled home Flowers to cut the lead to 9-7. But, Melancon got pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski to ground into a game-ending 5-4-3 double play to end the game and secure his 39th save of the year.

Next Game: The Washington Nationals will go for the sweep against the Atlanta Braves tomorrow night at Nats Park. You can watch the game on MASN at 7:05 p.m ET. Mike Foltynewicz (8-5, 4.31 ERA) will start for the Braves against Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 3.59) for the Nats, who returns off the disabled list.

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