On Friday night, the Nationals had Stephen Strasburg on the mound for what was supposed to be a lopsided rubber match against the Braves and starter Mike Foltynewicz, who came into the game with a 5-5 record and ERA of 4.37.
Despite Strasburg’s best efforts, the Braves got to him early. Nat-killer Freddie Freeman got the Braves on the board in the top of the first after he scorched a 3-2, 96 mile per hour fastball to the right-center gap, scoring infielder Enders Inciarte. Atlanta led 1-0 after the first.
Just one inning later, the Braves doubled their lead with a solo home run from outfielder Jace Peterson. Peterson’s solo shot also came off a belt-high mid-90s heater from Strasburg and it also landed in right-centerfield.
In the bottom of the third, outfielder Ben Revere walked and then advanced to second on a textbook bunt from Strasburg. Hitting in the lead off spot after Strasburg, second baseman Trea Turner fought off a few foul balls and worked the count full. With two outs, Turner scorched a line drive into center to plate Revere. It was Turner’s first of three hits on the night and it brought the Nats within one run.
Third baseman Anthony Rendon gave the Nats the lead in the bottom half of the fourth with a two-run home run to left field off a low curveball. Washington lead 3-2 after four frames.
Over the next two innings, the Nats would give up two home runs and trail 7-3, the first coming again off Strasburg. He was pulled after seven hits, six runs, and two homers over 5.1 innings of work. Strasburg’s home ERA over the last three starts is above nine.
The Braves would add one more run and the Nats pulled within three in the bottom of the seventh, but went quietly afterward. Some takeaways to note from the game were Jayson Werth extending his on base steak to 41 games with his double in the seventh and Turner collected three hits in five at-bats. Daniel Murphy, playing at first to make room for Wilmer Difo and Turner up the middle, looked strong in the field and and collected two hits to bring his average to .348.
The Nationals will play the Braves again Saturday night, pitting Rob Whalen (1-0, 5.73 ERA) against fire-baller and recent Minor League call-up Reynaldo Lopez (0-1, 9.35 ERA). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.