WASHINGTON (AP) – Dansby Swanson hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in the eighth inning, Freddie Freeman drove in five runs and the Atlanta Braves rallied from a four-run deficit against Washington’s beleaguered bullpen and beat the Nationals 13-9 on Saturday night.
Atlanta has won 12 of its last 15 and avoided dropping consecutive games for the first time since June 5-6.
Freeman tied the Braves’ franchise record of 10 consecutive games with an RBI. Sid Gordon also accomplished the feat for the then-Boston Braves in 1951.
Washington, which had won a season-high five in a row and 18 of 25, failed to get back to .500 for the first time since April 23.
The Braves hammered Joe Ross (0-1), who was called up from Triple-A Fresno on Friday and was a candidate to start Sunday, when he entered in the eighth inning. Ross gave up three consecutive hits, squandering a 9-8 lead before inducing a groundout. Swanson then homered into the Atlanta bullpen in left to make it 12-9.
The game was a continuation of Washington’s season-long relief woes. Though the Nationals’ bullpen had posted a 2.75 ERA in its previous 19 games, it entered the game with 6.04 ERA for the season – worse than every team in the majors except Baltimore.
A.J. Minter (1-4) pitched the seventh and earned the victory.
The top of Washington’s order did damage against Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz. Matt Adams capped a three-run first inning with a two-run homer, Juan Soto had a two-run triple in the third, and the Nationals opened the fifth with three consecutive singles, chasing the right-hander. All three runners eventually scored.
Washington led 8-4 when starter Anibal Sanchez exited after six innings. Trevor Rosenthal walked all three hitters he faced opening the seventh inning, and Tanner Rainey then walked Swanson, forcing in a run before Freeman’s bases-clearing double – the only hit of the inning – tied it.
Braves: LHP Sean Newcomb (concussion) pitched two scoreless innings in a rehabilitation appearance at Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out five. Newcomb is eligible to be activated Tuesday.
Nationals: OF Victor Robles left in the second inning with dehydration, the team said. Michael A. Taylor replaced him in center. … 1B Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis) played for Double-A Harrisburg for the second consecutive night, going 0 for 3 while logging seven innings at first base. Zimmerman has missed Washington’s last 49 games.
Braves: Rookie RHP Mike Soroka (8-1, 2.12 ERA) faces Washington for the first time in his career in the finale of the three-game series.
Nationals: Washington has not named a starter for Sunday.