Washington, DC, United States (4E Sports) – Chris Johnson hit the go-ahead run-scoring sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to carry the Atlanta Braves to a 2-1 triumph over the Washington Nationals in the opener of a three-game series Friday at Nationals Park.
Jayson Heyward drew a leadoff walk against Tyler Clippard (0-1), advanced to third on Freddie Freeman’s and scored easily on Johnson’s sacrifice fly to right to break the tie as the Braves (3-1) extended their winning streak to three games.
Luis Avilan (1-0) picked up the win after getting the last out of the seventh inning while right-hander David Carpenter struck out the last three batters in the bottom of the eighth after giving up a single and a walk.
Craig Kimbrel preserved the win after striking out two in a scoreless ninth for his third save of the season. In his third career MLB start, David Hale threw five shutout innings, giving up five hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
Jordan Zimmermann surrendered a run on four hits with a walk and nine strikeouts but the loss kept the Nationals from starting 4-0 for the first time in 31 years.
Evan Gattis opened the fifth inning by belting Zimmerman’s fastball into the left-center-field seats for a 1-0 Braves lead.
Ian Desmond opened the bottom of the fifth inning with line drive that came to rest under the padding of the wall located in foul territory down the left-field line. Justin Upton raised his arms in attempt to alert umpires to call a ground-rule double.
When third-base umpire Marvin Hudson did not make an immediate ruling, Upton picked the ball up and threw it back to the infield as Desmond completed what appeared to be as an inside-the-park home run.
However, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez issued a challenge that led to the review of the play.
After consulting with an umpire located at Major League Baseball’s Replay Operations center, crew chief Jim Joyce signaled for Desmond to return to second base with a ground-rule double.
An inning later, Washington tied the score an inning later when Anthony Rendon scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Zimmerman off reliever Gus Schlosser.