Braves hand Nationals sixth straight loss

BY foxsports • April 12, 2009

The Washington Nationals would like a restart. The Atlanta Braves just want to keep the winning pace they've set during the first week of the season.

Chipper Jones drove in two runs, including a tiebreaking single, and the Braves beat Washington 8-5 on Sunday to hand the Nationals their sixth straight loss to start the season.

Washington is the only winless team in the majors and has the franchise's most consecutive losses to open a season since the 1998 Montreal Expos were 0-7.

"We have to forget this ever happened," left-hander Scott Olsen said.

The pressure is already building for the Nationals, who lost three straight at Florida to open the season and will play their home opener against Philadelphia on Monday.

"Right now we're in a situation where we have to play almost perfect baseball," manager Manny Acta said.

Jair Jurrjens (2-0) gave up five hits and five walks in 5 1-3 innings but allowed only four runs, three earned, to help the Braves sweep the three-game series and improve to 5-1.

The Braves, who are hitting .300, have their best start since opening the 2007 season 7-1.

"It's good to get off to a good start," manager Bobby Cox said. "If you start 1-5 instead of 5-1, it's tough to come back."

Atlanta, which blew a 10-3 lead in the seventh inning of a 12-11 loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday, has enjoyed a strong and balanced attack in the first week. Seven players drove in runs on Sunday.

"We're swinging it really good," Jones said. "And it's coming from all parts.

"When you're producing some runs down at the bottom of the order, it really takes the pressure off the top, because you know eventually the top is going to come through."

The Braves scored their first five runs on two-out rallies in the fourth and fifth to beat Olsen (0-2), who gave up six hits and five runs in five innings.

Rafael Soriano pitched a perfect ninth for his first save.

Washington had 10 hits but left the bases loaded in the fifth, when Josh Willingham struck out to end the inning. The Nationals left runners on first and second in the eighth, when Adam Dunn struck out to end the inning.

The Nationals left 11 runners on base overall.

"I don't have a quick fix," said Dunn, who was 2-for-3 with two walks. "Guys know what they need to do, and I think it's being addressed.

"We're playing hard. We're just not doing the little things that we need to do. We're leaving so many runners on. You can't do that and be successful."

Elijah Dukes had two hits and drove in three runs for Washington.

Omar Infante had two hits and scored twice for Atlanta.

The teams traded four straight two-out rallies in the fourth, fifth and sixth.

Atlanta took a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Brian McCann started the rally with a walk and a steal, allowing him to score on a double to center by Matt Diaz. Jeff Francoeur's triple into the right-field corner drove in Diaz, and Martin Prado added a run-scoring single to right.

The Nationals scored three runs with two outs in the fifth. Dukes drove in Josh Bard and Cristian Guzman with a double to the wall in center field. Dukes scored when Prado, making his first start of the season at first base, mishandled Ryan Zimmerman's grounder for an error.

Jurrjens walked Dunn and Austin Kearns to load the bases before striking out Willingham.

Atlanta regained the lead by scoring two runs in the fifth on two-out singles by Jones and McCann.

Dukes' run-scoring single in the sixth cut the lead to 5-4, but the Braves scored two runs in the seventh off reliever Steven Shell. Infante doubled and scored on Yunel Escobar's double to right. Jones drove in Escobar with a single to left.

Zimmerman and Atlanta's Casey Kotchman traded run-scoring singles in the eighth.


Braves LHP Tom Glavine ended his minor league start with Double-A Mississippi after only two innings after experiencing shoulder discomfort. He will be evaluated after he returns to Atlanta. ... Washington 2B Willie Harris came out with a left oblique strain he sustained running to first on a third-inning single. Harris is day to day and will be evaluated on Monday. ... The Nationals already were without 2B Ronnie Belliard, who has not played since leaving Wednesday night's game with lower back tightness. Acta said the team might add an infielder, possibly Anderson Hernandez, on Monday. ... Zimmerman's run-scoring single in the eighth was his 500th career hit.

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