Braves club three more homers in 6-5 win over Nationals

The Atlanta Braves belted three more home runs on their way to a 6-5 win over the Washington Nationals Sunday at Nationals Park.

The Braves cracked the scoreboard in the second when Adam Duvall led off the inning with a walk off of Paolo Espino and then moved all the way to third on a double by Joc Pederson. Duvall scored on a groundout by Stephen Vogt to give Atlanta an early 1-0 lead.

The Braves came into the game having launched eight home runs in the first two games of the series. It didn’t take them long to put their first homer on the board Sunday. Austin Riley singled with one out in the third and then Dansby Swanson hit his fourth home run of the series to put Atlanta up 3-0.

Drew Smyly cruised through the first two innings of the game but seemed to lose command of his fastball in the third. Luis Garcia and Adrian Sanchez singled to begin the inning and then moved up 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt by Espino. Victor Robles followed with a single of his own to score Garcia and make it 3-1. Smyly then uncorked a wild pitch that scored Sanchez to cut the lead to 3-2. Smyly got ahead in the count 1-2 to Lane Thomas but he singled to right with Robles moving up to third. Juan Soto then lined out to Duvall in left with Robles tagging and scoring on the play. Smyly got Josh Bell to line out to Riley at third to escape with no further damage.

After a scoreless fourth, the Braves went back to work in the fifth and long ball once again played a big part. Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley greeted Espino with back-to-back home runs to retake the lead 5-3.

That would be the end of the day for Espino who was replaced by Gabe Klobosits. Swanson then reached on an infield single. Klobosits struck out Adam Duvall for the first out but then gave up a rocket single back through the box to Pederson. Vogt then walked to load the bases with just one out. With pinch-hitter Abraham Almonte at the plate, Klobotsis bounced one past catcher Riley Adams that allowed Swanson to score to increase the lead to 6-3.

The Braves had a chance to score another run as Almonte bounced back to Klobotsis who made a leaping catch and then threw wildly home. Adams was able to snag the throw and put the tag on Pederson in time to get the out. Pederson elected not to slide on the play but never touched the plate as he tried to avoid the tag. Ozzie Albies then popped out to end the inning.

The game wasn’t Smyly’s best work as he had to labor through the third and fourth. He exited having allowed six hits, a walk and three runs to go along with four strikeouts in four innings.

Jesse Chavez took over in the fifth and didn’t exactly provide much relief. Chavez retired Robles and Thomas to begin the inning but then walked Soto with two outs. Bell followed with a double to put runners at second and third. Carter Kieboom followed with a single to right that scored both Soto and Bell to cut Atlanta’s lead to 6-5. Chavez then gave up a single to Adams and tossed a wild pitch to put runners at second and third but got Garcia to line out to Pederson in center to end inning.

Richard Rodriguez, Tyler Matzek and Luke Jackson allowed one hit, a walk and struck out three over three scoreless innings in relief. Will Smith came on to close it out against the top of the Nationals order. He struck out Robles for the first out but then walked Thomas on five pitches. Smith then came right back and struck out Soto looking for the second out. He followed with a four-pitch walk to Bell to put runners at first and second. Kieboom then hit a missile down the line that Riley made a nice backhand stop on to record the final out.

Atlanta moves to a season-best six games above .500 at 62-56. They have won three straight to begin their road trip and will now head south to Miami for a three-game series against the Marlins.

Update - With the Phillies’ loss to the Reds, the Braves are now alone in first place for the first time this season.