The Washington Nationals failed to produce sufficient run support on Saturday night as the Atlanta Braves secured their fourth victory of the season with a 6-2 win at Nationals Park. Despite Washington’s best efforts with team ace Stephen Strasburg on the mound, the team’s offense struggled to score against Atlanta’s right-handed starter Julio Teheran.
Strasburg lasted 4.1 innings in his first D.C. start of the year. He gave up eight hits and six runs (three earned) while throwing 96 pitches (59 strikes). He also struck out six and walked three batters but a high pitch count early on prevented him from going any further.
The Nats managed to get a brief taste of offensive production with a two-run Adam LaRoche homer in the first inning, his second of the season, but that didn’t yield the long-term results Washington was hoping to achieve Saturday night. Washington didn’t maintain the lead long, though, and Atlanta came fighting back in the fourth inning when a pair of runs scored off a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error to tie it up at two runs each. Zimmerman was later removed from the evening’s game due to soreness and pain in his right shoulder.
Atlanta secured the night’s eventual victory in the fifth inning with a four-run rally off Strasburg. After striking out the lead-off batter B.J. Upton, the Braves’ lineup proceeded to draw a walk and hit four consecutive singles while taking the lead. And, due to a throwing error by outfielder Bryce Harper, two unearned runs sparked the eventual four-run rally prompting Manager Matt Williams’ decision to remove Strasburg with one out and replace him with right-handed reliever Aaron Barrett who got the Nats out of the inning.
Washington’s bullpen gave up five hits but did not allow a run to score for the remainder of the game. Left-handed reliever Ross Detwiler and right-handers Jerry Blevins and Drew Storen had strong outings but not even their best efforts could assist the struggling Nats’ offense continued to struggle with run production.
After sweeping the New York Mets in a three-game series to start the season earlier this week, the Nats will have to remember that the Braves are one of the strongest competitors they’ll face within their division and league this season. That should make each contest between the two quite entertaining.