By Michael Marzzacco
The Washington Nationals took the first three games of the series from the Braves in Atlanta on Friday and Saturday following a win on Thursday. Both nights saw them squander a lead. Friday night they pulled ahead in the ninth to win 7-6 while last night saw them hang on for an 11-9 curly W.
Friday night also featured two home run robberies. Center fielder Ben Revere made a running, leaping grab crashing into the wall but taking a home run away from Freddie Freeman in the fourth inning.
The Nats grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI groundout by Bryce Harper. Clint Robinson came up in the fifth inning and nearly launched a home run but Atlanta had a robbery of their own as right fielder Nick Markakis made a leaping, home run robbing catch. Robinson would play hero later on.
The Nats wouldn’t quit however. Danny Espinosa drew a walk and stole second after Tanner Roark struck out. Trea Turner followed with a single and moved Espinosa to third. Revere singled into right field to score Espinosa. Harper followed with a popup that was dropped by shortstop Dansby Swanson, allowing Turner to score, giving the Nats a 3-0 lead.
The Nats tacked on two more runs in the sixth. Espinosa singled to score Anthony Rendon while Turner had an RBI groundout that scored Robinson. The Braves got three runs back in the sixth and seventh innings. Ender Inciarte hit a two-run shot in the sixth while Markakis homered in the seventh. It pulled Atlanta to within 5-3.
The Nats got a run in the eighth when Trea Turner reached first on a throwing error by third baseman Gordon Beckham that scored Robinson. Down 6-3 in the eighth, the Braves came right back and tied it. Atlanta got a run with an RBI groundout by Inciarte. Then with runners at first and third, Freeman doubled to tie the game.
In the ninth Robinson came up clutch, redeeming himself from getting his home run robbed earlier in the game. With runners on first and second, Robinson knocked in a base hit that scored Pedro Severino and gave them the lead. Mark Melancon closed the door in the bottom of the ninth and the Nats got a 7-6 win.
Saturday night saw Max Scherzer go 6 and 1/3 innings, strike out six and drive in two runs as the Nats took the third game of the series 11-9.
Ryan Zimmerman returned from the disabled list and took the very first pitch he saw into the left field seats for his 13th home run of the year in the second inning. The Braves answered in the bottom frame with three runs.
Down 3-1, the Nats bats powered their way to an eight run fourth inning. Daniel Murphy got it started with a home run, his 23rd of the year, into the first row in right field, caught by a Nats fan rocking a Bryce Harper shirt. Speaking of Harper, he followed with a walk and stole second with Anthony Rendon up. Rendon then drove him home with a base hit into left field. Zimmerman singled to move Rendon to third then Wilmer Difo drove Rendon home with a base hit to right field. Scherzer helped his own cause, driving in Zimmerman with an RBI single into right field that scored Zimmerman. Then Trea Turner launched his fourth home run of the season into the left-center field seats. Harper drove in the final run of the inning with a base hit up the middle that scored Werth. It gave the Nats a commanding 10-3 lead.
The Braves came back and made it as close as 11-9 before Mark Melancon got the save, his 36th of the year.