WASHINGTON -- It is indeed early in the season. Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez made that perfectly clear after his team beat Washington 9-0 on Sunday afternoon to complete a series sweep of the division rival.
While it is still April, the sweep in front of the home crowd was significant for the Braves.
"It was good to make a statement," said Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who had a three-run homer in the third to give the Braves a 7-0 lead. "We know the Nationals are going to be pretty good."
Atlanta first baseman Chris Johnson (four hits) was involved in two rallies and Justin Upton also went deep in the third as the Braves (11-1) won their ninth game in a row with a 12-hit attack.
Atlanta has won its first four series of the year and is off to its best start since going 13-1 in 1994. But don't bring up the Detroit start of 35-5 in 1984 with the red-hot Braves.
"It is early," Gonzalez said. "It is still better than being 1-11. We still have 15 games against (Washington)."
The Nationals (7-5) had won all six home games before Atlanta came to town Friday and outscored them 18-5 in the series.
The Nationals head to Florida with a record of 1-5 against the Cincinnati Reds and the Braves.
"It is still very early in the season," Washington shortstop Ian Desmond said. "We know we are not playing our best. Like I said, it is April. Fortunately for us, it is still early."
Atlanta had three big innings and starting pitcher Paul Maholm improved to 3-0 as the Braves won before a subdued crowd of 39,389.
"We made some nice plays behind him. He was able to keep pounding the strike zone," Gonzalez said of Maholm.
Leadoff hitter B.J. Upton had three hits, including two doubles, and scored twice. He entered the game with an average of .105 and is now up to .163 as his team heads home to begin a series Tuesday with the Kansas City Royals.
"We are playing good baseball. Overall, man, a pretty good trip. I am just making adjustments," B.J. Upton said of hitting leadoff.
Washington starter Gio Gonzalez (1-1) gave up a double on the first pitch of the game to B.J. Upton and was hit hard even when Atlanta made outs.
"They have a good-hitting ballclub," Washington manager Davey Johnson said.
Maholm allowed just four hits and was replaced with two outs in the eighth after throwing 113 pitches, 75 for strikes. Luis Avilan took over for Maholm.
Atlanta's Cory Gearrin, on his 27th birthday, came on to pitch in the ninth and retired all three batters.
The Braves built a 7-0 lead in the fourth as Justin Upton led off with his seventh homer of the year and Simmons added his first round-tripper.
Ramiro Pena then reached on a throwing error by Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman -- the third game in a row the All-Star, who had shoulder surgery in the offseason, has been charged with a throwing error.
Atlanta had taken a 3-0 lead in the first on an RBI double by rookie cleanup hitter Evan Gattis, who homered on Saturday, and two batters later Chris Johnson hit a two-run single to center. Johnson is now hitting .405.
"Johnson, I like him. He was a good pickup (in the trade with Arizona)," said Davey Johnson. "Everything he seemed to hit found a hole."
Maholm allowed no runs and two hits in the first five innings. He also singled in the sixth for his first hit of the season and scored on a double by Jason Heyward. Gattis hit a sacrifice fly to make it 9-0 in the top of the sixth.
Washington second baseman Danny Espinosa (hitting .175) was hit on the right hand on a pitch by Maholm in the second. He was checked by head trainer Lee Kuntz and stayed in the game until the fifth, when he was replaced in the field by Steve Lombardozzi.
NOTES: The Nationals placed Wilson Ramos on the 15-day disabled list and recalled catcher Jhonaton Solano from AAA Syracuse. Ramos suffered a left hamstring strain late in Saturday's game. Ramos was hitting .300 with two homers in six games. Solano hit .314 in 12 games with the Nationals last season. ... Kurt Suzuki, who had been splitting time with Ramos, got the start at catcher for the Nationals and singled in his first at-bat.