The Associated Press
ATLANTA–Manager Dusty Baker was hardly surprised that the heart of the Nationals’ order took so many pitches in the eighth inning.
“It’s easy to be patient when they’re not near the strike zone,” he reasoned.
“We capitalized on it,” Baker added. “You’re going to get hits after that.”
Braves’ closer Arodys Vizcaino issued three bases-loaded walks in the six-run eighth, and Gio Gonzalez pitched seven strong innings, as Washington beat Atlanta 7-3 last night.
Gonzalez (15-7) allowed two runs, three hits, and one walk to enjoy some rare good luck in the series.
The left-hander, who struck out eight, began the night 4-11 with a 5.27 ERA in 20 career starts against the Braves.
He was coming off an 8-0 loss to Atlanta in his most recent start last week.
“This time we were attacking the strike zone,” Gonzalez noted.
“We were being more aggressive with the fastball in certain counts, and using the off-speeds and curveballs when I needed it.”
The NL East champion Nationals rallied from a 2-1 deficit for their third-straight win.
Pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo singled, Trea Turner doubled, and Jayson Werth walked in the eighth against Jose Ramirez (2-3).
Braves’ manager Brian Snitker brought in Vizcaino–and the move quickly backfired.
Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman, and Anthony Rendon all walked and Vizcaino left without a retiring a batter.
Rex Brothers then gave up Adam Lind’s two-run single and Michael Taylor’s RBI single to make it 7-2.
“It fell apart,” Snitker said.
“It wasn’t like they were just missing, either,” he added. “[The pitches] were shanked, yanked, and everything else.”
Ramirez allowed three runs, two hits, and one walk with one strikeout in 1/3 of an inning.
Braves’ starter Lucas Sims pitched five innings, giving up one run, three hits, and two walks.
The rookie also struck out six.
Turner hit Sims’ first pitch of the game over the left-field wall–the sixth of his career to begin a game.
Freddie Freeman’s 28th homer made it 1-1 in the bottom of the first.
Kurt Suzuki hit his 16th homer (a career high) to put Atlanta up 2-1 in the fifth.
Jace Peterson homered off Matt Albers in the eighth.
Braves’ left-hander A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the sixth and has not allowed a walk in his first career 11 games.
The team said his 1 1/3 perfect innings Sunday made him the organization’s first pitcher “since at least 1913” not to allow a walk in his first 10 games.
Minter has no record, with a 2.45 ERA in 11 games, and has struck out eight of the last 11 batters he’s faced.
Elsewhere in the NL, Miami dumped New York 9-2, San Francisco blanked Colorado 4-0, Philadelphia topped L.A. 7-5, Pittsburgh beat Milwaukee 6-4, St. Louis downed Cincinnati 9-2, and Arizona pounded San Diego 13-7.