It looked like the Atlanta Braves might end their losing streak after they jumped out to a quick lead. However, starter Brandon Beachy relinquished the lead and the bullpen struggled again as the Braves fell 7-2 to the Washington Nationals on Sunday night.
“We need to figure out how we can bring as much intensity as we brought throughout the last week and try to bring more, and be more competitive and come up with some timely hitting and come up with some big pitches when we need it and good defense when we need it," Dan Uggla said. "We just haven’t as a whole been playing like we’re capable of playing. I know we’ve got injuries, but everybody’s got injuries. You’ve got to battle through. You’ve got to fight through it. We’ve got to do a better job of battling through it.”
The Braves put a run on the board in the first inning without a hit. Michael Bourn led off with a walk and a steal, and Martin Prado drove him in on a groundout following a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Pastornicky.
The Braves would score again in the third inning on a suicide squeeze by Pastornicky after a triple by Bourn.
As for Beachy, while he didn't have his normal pinpoint control, he put together a solid game overall. He gave up three runs (one earned) in five innings on three hits and four walks to go along with seven strikeouts. He exited after hitting the first batter in the sixth inning.
“I took a few steps backwards from where I want to be tonight," Beachy said. "I didn’t control my fastball and that caused a lot of problems.”
The game took a turn for the worse when Livan Hernandez entered the game in relief of Beachy. He would end up allowing four runs in his three innings of work to put the game out of reach.
“At that point, you don’t want to tax your bullpen," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You feel like he can get through it. Bringing him in in that situation, you feel like he’s experienced enough to get you through that sixth inning and keep the game right there where it’s at and get you back to swinging the bats a little bit, get another run and then you get to the O’Flaherty’s and Kimbrels of the world."
Unfortunately for the Braves, they were unable to capitalize on Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez's long first inning. Gonzalez settled down and gave up only one hit (Bourn's triple) and two runs in seven innings of work. He struck out ten batters while walking three.
The Braves will try to right the ship when they send Tommy Hanson (5-3, 3.12 ERA) to the mound against Lance Lynn (7-1, 2.54 ERA) and the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:10 EDT on Monday afternoon.
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