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Span triples twice as Braves drop series opener

May 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span (2) is caught in a double play while diving back to first in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

May 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span (2) is caught in a double play while diving back to first in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA -- Center fielder Denard Span had two triples and scored two runs to help the Washington Nationals to a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night at Turner Field.

Spann led off the first and sixth innings with triples, matching a club record, and scored on two sacrifice flies by Steve Lombardozzi to help the Nationals win the opener of a three-game series and cut Atlanta's lead in the National League East to 4 games.

Washington reliever Craig Stammen (3-1) came in to replace ailing starter Stephen Strasburg in the third inning and pitched four shutout innings. Stammen did not allow a runner and struck out three in his longest stint since moving to the bullpen in August 2010.

Atlanta had a chance in the seventh against Washington's Tyler Clippard, who struggled in one inning of relief. Clippard allowed a run and hit two batters to load the bases before striking out Dan Uggla and Chris Johnson to end the inning.

Washington's Drew Storen threw a scoreless eighth and Rafael Soriano closed the game with a scoreless ninth to pick up his 15th save.

Atlanta starter Julio Teheran (3-2) struck out a career-best nine batters and allowed seven hits and three runs in 6 innings.

After Strasburg was removed from the game with a muscle issue in his back, the Nationals ace remained silent while pitching coach Steve McCatty talked to him in the dugout as the Nationals batted in the third. Strasburg threw only 37 pitches and allowed one run and two hits. It was his shortest outing of his career.

The Nationals struck quickly for a run in the first off Julio Teheran. Span slammed the game's second pitch high into the right field corner. Justin Upton, who normally plays left field, got turned around and Span wound up with a triple. He scored on Lombardozzi's sacrifice fly.

Washington scored again in the second. Roger Bernadina singled and advanced to third on Danny Espinosa's single. Bernadina scored on Kurt Suzuki's fielder's choice when the Braves could not complete a double play.

The Braves got a run back in bottom of the second when Freddie Freeman hit a towering home run into the right-field stands. It was his fifth homer of the season and the sixth given up by Strasburg.

Notes: Atlanta OF Jason Heyward batted leadoff for only the second time on Friday. It was his second start of the season in center field. ... Washington manager Davey Johnson said there is "no possibiity" that RF Jayson Werth will play in the weekend series against Atlanta. ... Washington has asked Brevard County (Fla.) officials to allow the club to break its lease on the spring training facility at the end of 2014, three years before the contract will expire. The Nationals cite distance as the main problem in Viera, where the closest opponents are more than an hour away.

Comments

kevin 10 months, 3 weeks ago

As of June 2, Heyward, Uggla, BJ Upton, still hitting around .160, (all 3's combined avg. BA). This is about the same as the average for Atlanta pitchers. What a waste of money thus far. Time to make trades. The Braves that are rookies and less than 3 yrs are all hitting .300+. Compare their salaries!

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