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Upton delivers game-winning hit as Braves top Nationals

ATLANTA — Left fielder Justin Upton looped a single into right field to score pinch-runner Jordan Schafer and give the Atlanta Braves a 7-6 National League East win over the Washington Nationals in the 10th inning on Friday.

Upton fisted a 2-2 pitch off reliever Jerry Blevins (1-1) in front of center fielder Bryce Harper, who had moved over from left field to start the inning. The ball landed in front of Harper and took a bounce to the right, which allowed Schafer to race all the way from first base with the winning run. It was Upton’s third hit of the game.

The winning pitcher was reliever Luis Avilan (1-1), who pitched around two walks to post a scoreless 10th inning.

Washington starter Tanner Roark had not allowed a run in three previous appearances against Atlanta, a span of 13 innings. But that changed quickly for the right-hander in the second inning when the Braves plated four runs. The first run scored on a sharp RBI single to center by Evan Gattis, and the others scored on a line-drive, three-run homer to right field by Ramiro Pena, his first.

The Nationals got one of the runs back in the fourth inning on a sharp bases-loaded single by Ian Desmond that scored Adam LaRoche. But Jose Lobaton struck out and Roark grounded weakly to first base to end the threat.

Washington tied the game in the fifth on Ryan Zimmerman’s towering three-run homer to left-center. The third baseman hit a 3-2 pitch for his second home run. Zimmerman unexpectedly got a chance to hit when second baseman Dan Uggla’s throwing error on a routine ball extended the inning.

Atlanta regained the lead 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, first baseman Freddie Freeman doubled to chase Roark. Chris Johnson capped a 10-pitch at-bat with a single against reliever Aaron Barrett to drive in Freeman.

The Nationals tied it back up in the top of the sixth when Lobaton lobbed a double down the left-field line and scored on Kevin Frandsen’s pinch-hit single.

Washington nearly grabbed the lead in the seventh. LaRoche singled and Zimmerman walked with two outs. Reliever Jordan Walden then threw a wild pitch that bounced all the way to the third-base dugout. LaRoche tried to advance two bases on the play and score, but was tagged out at the plate, a play that was reviewed and confirmed.

Denard Span put Washington ahead by a run in the eighth with an RBI single off reliever David Carpenter. The hit scored Harper, who led off the inning with a bunt single. But Atlanta matched the run in the bottom of the inning on a long homer to straightaway center by Upton, his fourth of the season and third in two days.

Neither starting pitcher figured in the decision. Roak allowed five runs in 4 2/3 innings, while Atlanta’s Julio Teheran allowed five runs, only two earned, in six innings.

NOTES: Braves SS Andrelton Simmons missed his second straight game with a sprained wrist. He is expected to be back in the lineup on Saturday. Simmons was presented with his 2013 Gold Glove in an on-field ceremony before the game. … Atlanta RHP Gavin Floyd and LHP Mike Minor will both make another injury rehab start on Sunday. Floyd will pitch for Triple-A Gwinnett and Minor will start for Class A Rome. … Washington RHP Doug Fister threw a 35-pitch bullpen session on Friday afternoon. Fister threw only fastballs and change-ups and said afterward he felt good. The Nationals want Fister to throw 50 pitches in a bullpen session and pitch a minor league rehab assignment before being activated. Fister, acquired in an offseason trade with Detroit, strained his side in a minor league game March 27 after being sidelined with elbow inflammation during most of spring training. … Washington RHP Tanner Roark hit three of the first 14 Atlanta batters he faced on Friday. It was the first hit batsmen of his career.