The Washington Nationals can't lose, and the Atlanta Braves can't beat them. Though the Braves held the Nationals scoreless for 11 straight innings they still dropped the series opener in 13 innings by a 5-4 score at Nationals Park.
The game ended with runners on the corners and one out, but Dan Uggla couldn't get the ball out of his glove on an infield single to drop the Braves six games back in the NL East race.
"The ball never left the infield [in the inning]," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Good breaks on their part, tough breaks on ours."
With the game already delayed by rain for 56 minutes and 4 hours and 27 minutes of actual playing time, the Braves could only trudge off the field disappointed with the results of the series opener.
The fateful 13th inning started with Christhian Martinez, out for his second inning, gave up a weak single up the middle by Ian Desmond that was field by Uggla. Danny Espinosa attempted to bunt him over, but Martinez got the force out at second.
The truly fateful play came when Kurt Suzuki hit a high chopper just to the left of the mound. Chipper Jones tried to cut across and field it, but the ball ricocheted off his foot toward second base to allow Espinosa to advance to third.
The Nats brought in pinch-hitter Chad Tracy for the final play. With the infield in, he smacked a ball that Uggla had to go to his knees to field. Uggla said he thought about tagging Suzuki and attempting a double play, but he then wanted to throw home when he saw Espinosa running on the play.
"I just tried to throw the ball home," Uggla said. "I couldn't get the thing out of my glove. He got a good jump, and I just couldn't get it out of my glove."
Jason Heyward got things started for the Braves in the first inning with an RBI-single, but that didn't stop the Nats from touching Tim Hudson for four in their half of the first.
Washington has had Hudson's number all year; the four runs he gave up Monday brought his total up to 17 runs in 18 2/3 innings against the Nationals. Hudson has also struggled at the beginning of games this year as 20 of the 59 runs he has allowed all year have come in the first inning.
"It's a combination of me not making some pitches and then a little bit of luck on their end," Hudson said. "It's a situation that I'm just not quite making good enough pitches in those situations."
The Nationals started the first inning with a double by Jason Werth, an RBI-single by Bryce Harper and a single by Ryan Zimmerman. An Adam LaRoche groundout drove in Harper before Ian Desmond hit a two-run homer with two outs.
The Braves battled back on Jordan Zimmerman with an RBI-single by Paul Janish in the fourth inning and a two-run shot by Heyward in the fifth to tie the game at 4-4.
The score would stay that way until the 13th, thanks to both bullpens. That was paritally the cause of the Braves stranding 12 runners and going 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Craig Stammen got the win for the Nationals on two innings of work and was the final arm in their bullpen. When Chad Tracy pinch-hit for Stammen, that left them with no relievers.
"Sometimes when you're good, you have things go your way," Hudson said. "That last inning was Little League-esque, [with] the choppers and, you know, the hits. But they've won a lot of those kinds of games this year."
The loss drops the Braves to six games out in the NL East.
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