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Atlanta Braves Play Small Ball, Beat Washington Nationals in Opener

April 30th, 2013 at 8:51 AM
By Cody Fields

Returning home from a grueling road trip made all the difference for the Atlanta Braves, who turned four lead-off walks into three runs to beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 in the series opener at Turner Field on Monday.

The Braves worked four walks off Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg, who was chased after six innings and two runs, not factoring in the decision. Regardless, the Braves kept him locked at his 3-4 record against them by manufacturing runs and staying patient.

"We put some good at-bats on [Strasburg]," Jordan Schafer said on "Obviously, he has really good stuff. Every time he goes out, it's a challenge. You're going to go out there and battle and put the best at-bats you can on him. We put enough on him to squeak one out tonight."

Schafer, who found himself in the lead-off spot for the second straight night, drew three walks and had a hit while stealing two bases. His walk and steal to start the first inning put him in position for Justin Upton to bring him home with his own single.

When down 2-1 in the fourth, the Braves used some timely hitting after Freddie Freeman walked and Dan Uggla singled. Two batters later, Gerald Laird drove in the tying run with a two-out single with Freeman crossing home just before Uggla was thrown out at third.

Laird found himself working a lead-off walk off Tyler Clippard in the seventh. After being sacrificed over by Tyler Pastornicky and moved to third by Schafer's single, Laird scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Andrelton Simmons.

Though he didn't factor in the decision Julio Teheran was resilient over his 5 2/3 innings, even while tallying the Braves' only extra-base hit with a double in the fifth. The right-hander gave up two runs on 10 hits but limited all his damage to the second inning, when the Nationals started the frame with four straight hits.

"[Teheran] gave us an opportunity to win a ballgame," Fredi Gonzalez said. "They had some opportunities to put a big number on him, and we didn't let it happen."

The Atlanta bullpen then took over by throwing 4 1/3 perfect innings, starting with Jordan Walden striking out three over 1 2/3 innings. After Eric O'Flaherty worked a perfect eighth that included two strikeouts, Craig Kimbrel recorded one strikeout in his ninth save of the season.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Braves and gave them a 4-0 record against Washington this year.

Tags: Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Craig Kimbrel, Dan Uggla, Eric O'Flaherty, Freddie Freeman, Gerald Laird, Jordan Schafer, Jordan Walden, MLB, Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

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