Braves' Losing Streak Hits 6 with 8-4 Loss to Nats

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Braves' longest losing streak this season and
a series of injuries and health problems have caused manager Fredi
Gonzalez to reach a long way for a positive spin.
Atlanta's their losing streak reached six games Saturday with an
8-4 defeat to Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals.
"We may be the best team that's lost six in a row in the major
leagues right now," Gonzalez said.
Bryce Harper homered and Danny Espinosa added a three-run drive
to lead Washington's 12-hit attack. The Braves fell three games
behind the Nationals in the NL East.
Before the game, the Braves placed Chipper Jones on the 15-day
disabled list with a bruised left leg.
Dan Uggla's two-run, tying homer in the fifth was the big hit
for the short-handed Braves.
Catcher Brian McCann is recovering from an illness and did not
start. First baseman Freddie Freeman was a late scratch as he
struggles with his vision while wearing contacts.
Juan Francisco had three hits, including a double off Tom
Gorzelanny to lead off the ninth. Craig Stammen gave a one-out walk
to pinch-hitter Jack Wilson. Tyler Clippard earned his third save
by striking out Michael Bourn and ending the game on McCann's
pinch-hit popout.
"We're not playing particularly well right now," Gonzalez
said. "And there are no excuses. We've just need to get it
going."
Strasburg (5-1) was not sharp but still won. He set a season
high with four walks while giving up four runs and six hits in five
innings. He had six strikeouts.
The temperature for the first pitch was 90 degrees, and
Strasburg soon was shaking sweat off his right arm between pitches.
The heat may have contributed to Strasburg's difficulty controlling
his fastball.
"I'd try one thing and it wouldn't work and I'd try another
thing and it wouldn't work," Strasburg said. "It was just one of
those days. I'm not really happy with it, but the bottom line is we
won."
Mike Minor gave up four runs on six hits in five innings,
marking the sixth straight start he has allowed four or more runs.
His ERA rose slightly to 6.98 but there are no signs the
left-hander is about to lose his spot in the rotation.
"I feel like there are more positives out of this game than the
previous games," Minor said. "It was another home run, it was
four runs. But I feel like I pitched a lot better. I used all my
pitches today."
Added Gonzalez: "There were some hurdles there you felt pretty
good he cleared. ... We just keep going forward with him."
Espinosa doubled off Minor to lead off the game and scored on
Adam LaRoche's fly ball. Espinosa pushed the lead to 4-0 with his
three-run homer off Minor in the second.
Francisco had a run-scoring single and fill-in catcher J.C.
Boscan also drove in a run in the second inning.
Atlanta pulled even at 4-4 on Uggla's homer off Strasburg. The
Nationals answered with two runs off Kris Medlen (1-1) in the
sixth.
Pinch-hitter Chad Tracy's double drove in Ian Desmond, who
doubled. Tracy pulled up with an apparent groin injury between
first and second and had to leave the game.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Tracy was hopeful he "just
popped some scar tissue" and won't have to go on the disabled
list.
Rick Ankiel, the pinch-hitter for Strasburg, added a run-scoring
triple off the centerfield wall. Michael Bourn appeared set to make
the catch before backing into the wall, losing his balance and the
ball.
"The ball hitting the glove and him hitting the wall at the
same time kind of jarred him," Gonzalez said.
Washington added two runs off Jonny Venters in the seventh.
Harper lined his third homer over the left-field wall. Ryan
Zimmerman singled and scored on LaRoche's double.
There were loud boos for Jason Heyward in the fifth inning when
he bobbled a single by Harper in right field for an error and then
took a lackadaisical approach to picking up the ball as Harper
raced to second base. Minor pitched out of the jam.
NOTES: Johnson announced after the game RHP Chien-Ming Wang will move into LHP Ross Detwiler's spot in the rotation and Detwiler will work out of the bullpen. Wang earned the win in his season debut as he gave up one run in three innings after relieving
Detwiler in Friday night's 7-4 win. ... Boscan was recalled from
Triple-A Gwinnett when Jones was placed on the DL. ... Atlanta RHP
Brandon Beachy (1.77) and Washington LHP Gio Gonzalez (1.98) will
match two of baseball's best ERAs when the teams finish the
three-game series on Sunday night.


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