Scherzer pitches 7 scoreless innings, Nats beat Braves 3-1
Max Scherzer pitched two-hit ball over seven scoreless innings and the Washington Nationals handed Atlanta its first loss at SunTrust Park, escaping a major jam in the ninth to beat the Braves 3-1 on Tuesday night.
Atlanta scored a run against Nationals closer Blake Treinen and had the bases loaded with one out. But Shawn Kelley came on for his first save, getting Emilio Bonifacio to fly out to short right field and striking out Chase d’Arnaud — twice, actually — to end the game.
D’Arnaud clearly missed a pitch in the dirt, but the umpires gave him a second chance by inexplicably ruling it a foul tip. D’Arnaud made it a moot point, swinging and missing again.
Scherzer (2-1) got an inning-ending double play to work around his only serious trouble in the fourth. The 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner allowed only one other runner as far as second base, finishing with seven strikeouts.
Mike Foltynewicz (0-2) ended up on the short end of the pitching duel. He went seven innings, allowing five hits and a pair of runs.
Washington’s Adam Eaton kept up the hot start for his new team with an RBI single.
Sparked by the debut of their new suburban stadium, the Braves swept San Diego in a four-game series and came in having won five straight overall, getting back to .500 after a 1-6 start.
But Washington has dominated its division rival over the last two-plus season, improving to 37-13 over their last 50 meetings.
Even on a balmy night for the opener of a three-game series against the defending NL East champions, the crowd of 21,834 was the smallest in five games at SunTrust Park.
The Braves had their best scoring chance against Scherzer when Freddie Freeman led off the fourth with a walk and Nick Markakis followed with a single to center.
Brandon Phillips grounded into a forceout, leaving runners at first and third for Adonis Garcia. On a 3-1 pitch, he grounded sharply to shortstop Wilmer Difo, who started an easy double play to end the inning.
Washington broke through the very next inning. Matt Wieters got it started with a double, went to third on a wild pitch and trotted home when Difo slapped a single to right. Scherzer moved the runner along with a sacrifice bunt, setting up Eaton’s run-scoring hit to center.
The Nationals added an insurance run in the eighth on doubles by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman.
Braves OF Matt Kemp will test his right hamstring in a rehab game at Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday, pushing back his return to the active roster. Kemp had hoped to come back Tuesday without a rehab game, but the Braves wanted to make sure he was fully recovered. … Atlanta C Tyler Flowers (strained right hamstring) didn’t start but came on in the ninth as a pinch hitter. Kurt Suzuki got his second straight start behind the plate. … Nationals SS Trea Turner (strained right hamstring) is eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday, but he’ll have a rehab stint in the minors. The Nationals haven’t announced where Turner will play, but manager Dusty Baker assured it will be a “warm” spot to lessen the chance of re-injuring the hamstring.
Nationals: RHP Joe Ross will be called up from Triple-A Syracuse for his first big league start of the season. The 23-year-old made 19 starts for Washington a year ago, going 7-5 with a 3.43 ERA.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (1-0) gets his second start of the homestand, looking to follow up a victory in the first game at SunTrust Park. He has a 0.95 ERA over his first three starts, allowing just two earned runs in 19 innings.
This story has been corrected with Blake Treinen’s first name.
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