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Washington Nationals squander late chances, lose in extras to Atlanta Braves

washington nationalsThe Washington Nationals couldn’t get the tying run home from second base in the bottom of the 10th, and dropped the series finale to the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves, 4-3, on Sunday.

The Nats had runners on first and second and one down in the 10th after an Adam Eaton single to left, bringing up Anthony Rendon, who promptly hit a foul pop-up to Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman for out number two.

Juan Soto then grounded out to short on the first pitch of his at bat to end it.

The loss was the second straight for Washington, which blew a four-run seventh-inning lead Saturday night in a 12-9 loss, in which the bullpen gave up nine runs in the final three innings.

The pen was a problem again on Sunday, after a nice outing from Austin Voth, who gave up a pair of solo homers while striking out seven in six innings in his second career start.

The pen actually held the Braves in check into the 10th. Nats manager Dave Martinez lifted closer Sean Doolittle after pitching a scoreless ninth, an odd choice, perhaps, given that Doolittle hadn’t worked since Thursday night, and Washington has an off-day on Monday before starting a series on the road at Miami on Tuesday.

Tanner Rainey (1-2, 3.94 ERA) struggled with control in the 10th, walking two and falling behind pinch-hitter Johan Camargo before Camargo launched a 382-foot shot into the stands in right-center for a two-run homer, his third homer of the season, to put Atlanta on top, 4-2.

Josh Donaldson (15) and Ronald Acuna Jr. (18) had homered earlier in the game off Voth.

Soto (12) homered in the seventh to get the Nationals on the board. Gerardo Parra tied the game later in the seventh with an RBI single.

Washington had multiple chances to win the game in the late innings. After the Parra RBI single put runners at first and second with two outs in the seventh, Yan Gomes popped out to first to end that threat.

The Nats then got back-to-back singles from Brian Dozier and Turner to lead off the eighth, but Eaton bunted into a force play at third, and Rendon, who was 0-for-5 on the afternoon, hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

The loss leaves Washington (37-40) eight and a half games back of Atlanta (46-32) in the East, and puts a damper on a homestand that still saw the Nationals go 6-4.

The damper is that it feels like the last two got away from Washington, who at least have a favorable schedule, on paper, for the next two weeks. The Nats face Miami (30-46) for a pair of series, home and home, in between a road series at Detroit (26-47) and a home series with Kansas City (26-51).

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press