By Michael Marzzacco
Reynaldo Lopez got his first win, Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner homered, and the Nats survived a ninth inning rally to down the Braves 7-6 on Star Wars Night at Nats Park.
Freddie Freeman hit a home run in the first inning to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the first with Trea Turner on, Daniel Murphy homered into the middle-level seats in right field to give the Nats the 2-1 lead. It was Murphy’s 22nd long ball on the season. In the bottom of the third, Trea Turner smacked his third home run of the season into the left field seats. The Nats went up 4-1 with a sacrifice fly by Murphy that scored Ben Revere.
In the bottom of the fifth, Ben Revere lined a base hit into the right field corner that scored Turner and was good enough, along with his speed, to allow him to get to third for a triple. The Nats added their sixth run when Murphy grounded out to bring home Revere from third. In the bottom of the sixth, Danny Espinosa lined a single into right field that brought home Jayson Werth.
Reynaldo Lopez went seven innings allowing one run on five hits with two strikeouts, earning his first big league win.
Down 7-1, Atlanta began to chip away in the eighth inning. They brought one run home in that second-to-last inning with an RBI single by Matt Kemp with Sammy Solis pitching from the bullpen.
In the ninth, Yusmeiro Petit came into the game from the pen and the Braves tallied a run on him thanks to an RBI single by Jeff Francoeur. With a 7-4 ballgame it was time for Dusty Baker to go back to the pen bringing in new closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon entered the game with two on. Ender Inciarte hit an RBI single to score A.J. Pierzynski, 7-4 game. With runners at the corners, Erick Aybar smacked a base hit into the right-centerfield gap to the wall. Aybar tried to stretch the double into a triple but Revere threw a bullet right to third baseman Anthony Rendon. Rendon applied the tag and Aybar was out. The umpires reviewed the call but it stood. It was a big break for Washington. Had he been safe, the tying run would have been 90 feet away with no outs. Freddie Freeman lined out and Matt Kemp grounded out to end the game and Melancon got his 33rd save of the year.
The Nats improve their record to 68-47 and stretch their commanding NL East lead over the Marlins to 8.5 games. The series finale between the Nats and the Braves takes place this afternoon with a 1:35 first pitch. Tyrell Jenkins (2-2, 3.92 ERA) and Tanner Roark (12-6, 2.88 ERA) go head to head.