WASHINGTON — Justin Upton and Dan Uggla both homered in a three-run sixth inning that gave Atlanta the lead, and the bullpen helped the Braves lock up a 5-2 victory over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.
Atlanta prevented Washington from sweeping the three-game series. The Braves reduced their magic number to two for clinching the National League East title. The Nationals held a 2-0 lead before Uggla started the sixth with a solo homer off Ross Ohlendorf (4-1). Upton later hit a two-run shot that gave the Braves a 3-2 lead, and they never trailed again.
Six Atlanta relief pitchers combined to throw 4 1/3 scoreless innings. They allowed just one hit overall, and Craig Kimbrel closed it in the ninth for his 48th save, one day after blowing a save in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
The Braves added an insurance run in the seventh on Brian McCann’s RBI double.
Schafer made it 5-2 with an RBI single in the ninth.
Washington (81-71) threatened in the bottom half, putting two runners on, but the Braves used three pitchers to get through the inning without allowing a run.
For the Nationals, Denard Span stretched his hitting streak to 29 games with a leadoff single in the seventh. His streak is the longest in the majors this year. Span is one game away from tying Ryan Zimmerman’s team record, set in 2009.
Ohlendorf had little trouble in the early innings. The right-hander retired the first 10 batters and blanked Atlanta through the first five frames.
The Nationals broke through with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning that ended with two Braves ejected. Anthony Rendon led off with a single and went to second on an Ohlendorf sacrifice. Rendon then moved to third when Span reached on first baseman Freddie Freeman’s error.
Zimmerman and Jayson Werth both followed with walks, the latter forcing in a run. Werth walked on a 3-2 pitch from starter Alex Wood. The call on the pitch infuriated Wood, who started screaming at home plate umpire CB Bucknor.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez came out to argue, and Bucknor tossed Gonzalez. Wood then gave up a sacrifice fly to Bryce Harper to increase Washington’s lead to 2-, and the Braves pulled the right-hander.
Wood tossed a few more choice words in Bucknor’s direction while leaving the mound, and the umpire also threw him out.
Notes: Washington C Wilson Ramos made it back into the lineup after a brief break. He started 24 straight games (tops in the majors this year) before manager Davey Johnson gave him a breather in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. … Zimmerman has 10 homers this month, the most in the majors. … Braves SS Andrelton Simmons didn’t start due to neck stiffness, but he entered as a pinch runner and remained in the game. … The Braves lead the National League with 17 pick-offs this season. Toronto (18) leads the majors.t