Brandon Beachy had trouble with his control again Saturday as the Washington Nationals shut down the Atlanta Braves. The crucial second game of the series shrank the Braves' Wild Card lead over the St. Louis Cardinals to two games with four games left.
Though Beachy fanned nine batters in his six innings, he also issued four free passes has he fell to 7-3 and the Braves lost his fifth straight start. Two of his walks correlated directly into two of his four earned runs.
Still, Beachy received a single run of support via a solo homer by Freddie Freeman in the fifth inning of the 4-1 loss. Atlanta went hitless in their only at bat with a runner in scoring position en route to their 14th loss in their last 22 games.
"We've got to win ballgames," Fredi Gonzalez said. "It's nice to watch the scoreboard and all of that. But we've got to win the games that are in front of us."
Nationals starter Chien-Ming Wang had entered Saturday's contest 0-3 in four starts against the Braves, but he walked none and gave up only four hits, including the solo shot to Freeman, in his six innings to aid St. Louis in keep up its pressure on Atlanta.
And Beachy, who would find himself in the middle of the Braves' playoff rotation, has given up nine walks in his last two starts combined. He blames it on a lack of efficiency.
"All year, I've been living on the edge," Beachy said. "I've been getting behind guys and throwing too many pitches. It's really caught up to me these last three starts."
Beachy has allowed four runs in each of his last three starts, though he allowed three or fewer runs in 18 of his first 22 starts. His 168 strikeouts are the most since a Braves rookie since 1990.
The Braves still control their own destiny with a magic number of three. A win Sunday and a series win against the Philadelphia Phillies would clinch the Wild Card.
Atlanta will rely on Mike Minor (5-2, 4.27 ERA) to lock up the series opposite Washington's Ross Detwiler (3-5, 3.30 ERA) in Sunday's 1:35 EDT start.
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