for this game

Relief effort pays off for Nationals

May 17, 2007 - 3:48 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- The Washington Nationals' bullpen started slowly but closed quickly.

Ryan Church had a go-ahead three-run double and six relievers combined to pitch five scoreless innings as the Nationals rallied for a 6-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-3, including a solo home run, as Washington won its second straight game and sixth in its last seven.

It was a most unlikely victory for the Nationals, who were forced to give rookie reliever Levale Speigner his first career start because their starting rotation is in tatters due to injuries.

Speigner had not pitched more than three innings in any of his 12 relief appearances and his numbers were not awe-inspiring, having allowed six runs, 14 hits and 12 walks in 14 1/3 innings.

The 26-year-old righthander lasted just four innings, giving up four runs and eight hits, but was picked up by his bullpen.

"We could have stretched him a little more," Washington manager Manny Acta said of Speigner. "But, they were hitting him a little bit. He threw strikes - many too many."

Speigner seemed in awe of the bullpen, of which he been a part for the season's first six weeks.

"That was huge. We didn't give up another run after the fourth inning," Speigner said.

Billy Traber (1-0) got the win by pitching the fifth inning and was followed to the mound by Ray King, Winston Abreu, Saul Rivera and Chad Cordero before Jon Rauch closed it out with his second save in as many chances.

Combined, they allowed two singles in the five innings.

"The bullpen was extremely important," Acta said. "They stopped those guys and gave us a chance to bring in the big guns."

Atlanta wasted little time pouncing on the Speigner, stringing together three straight one-out hits in the first inning.

After the streaking Edgar Renteria singled and Chipper Jones doubled him to third, Andruw Jones delivered both runs with a single to left field for a 2-0 lead.

Washington halved the deficit in the bottom of the inning against Kyle Davies (1-2), who failed to win consecutive starts for just the third time in his career and the first time since July 30-August 4, 2005.

Ronnie Belliard singled with one out and scored on Zimmerman's double to right field. The hit broke an 0-for-11 skid for Zimmerman.

The Braves tacked on two more runs in the fourth on RBI singles by Scott Thorman and Willie Harris to make it 4-1.

Zimmerman again cut the deficit in half with a long homer - his third of the season - to center field in the bottom of the fourth.

The Nationals, though, forged ahead with a four-run fifth inning, taking advantage of a huge error by Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson on what would have been an inning-ending double-play groundout by Cristian Guzman that loaded the bases with one out.

"That one inning, if we don't walk guys, the damage is limited," Atlanta's Chipper Jones said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't stop the bleeding until they got the lead."

After one run came home on a fielder's choice groundout, and a walk reloaded the bases, Church drilled a three-run double up the gap in right-center to put Washington in front, 6-4.

"Anytime you come up with the bases loaded, you want to come through," Church said. "I've struggled of late. My whole thing now is knowing the situations, and knowing that they can't give in."

Davies was yanked in favor of Chad Paronto, who walked Austin Kearns before retiring Brian Schneider to end the inning. He pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing six runs - two earned - and five hits while striking out three and walking two.

The Braves must win on Thursday to avoid their first series loss after winning their last five.

"You can't give big league teams four or five outs in an inning." Chipper Jones said.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    ATLANTA 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 4 10 1
    WASHINGTON 1 0 0 1 4 0 0 0 x 6 5 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: ATL - KYLE DAVIES, CHAD PARONTO (5TH), OSCAR VILLARREAL (6TH), BOB
    WICKMAN (8TH) AND BRIAN MCCANN
    WAS - LEVALE SPEIGNER, BILLY TRABER (5TH), RAY KING
    (6TH), WINSTO

    May 16 9:36 PM


  • NL
    AT WASHINGTON - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY RYAN CHURCH SCORED JESUS FLORES, RONNIE BELLIARD
    AND RYAN ZIMMERMAN.
    SITUATION: 4 RUNS IN, R CHURCH ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ATLANTA 4
    WASHINGTON 6 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: A KEARNS (.262, 0-FOR-2)

    Braves vs. NationalsMay 16 8:32 PM


  • NL
    AT WASHINGTON - SCORING UPDATE
    FIELDER'S CHOICE BY RONNIE BELLIARD SCORED RYAN LANGERHANS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R BELLIARD ON FIRST, J FLORES ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ATLANTA 4
    WASHINGTON 3 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: R ZIMMERMAN (.248, 2-FOR-2, HR, 2 RBI)

    Braves vs. NationalsMay 16 8:26 PM


  • NL
    AT WASHINGTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY RYAN ZIMMERMAN (3) TO RIGHT CENTER WITH 0
    OUT IN THE 4TH OFF KYLE DAVIES.
    CURRENT SCORE: ATLANTA 4, WASHINGTON 2
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: R CHURCH (.263, 0-FOR-1)

    Braves vs. NationalsMay 16 8:02 PM


  • NL
    AT WASHINGTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY WILLIE HARRIS SCORED SCOTT THORMAN.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, W HARRIS ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ATLANTA 4
    WASHINGTON 1 TOP, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: K DAVIES (.000, 0-FOR-1)

    Braves vs. NationalsMay 16 7:53 PM


  • NL
    AT WASHINGTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY SCOTT THORMAN SCORED JEFF FRANCOEUR.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, S THORMAN ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ATLANTA 3
    WASHINGTON 1 TOP, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: W HARRIS (.409, 0-FOR-1)

    Braves vs. NationalsMay 16 7:52 PM


  • NL
    AT WASHINGTON - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY RYAN ZIMMERMAN SCORED RONNIE BELLIARD.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R ZIMMERMAN ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ATLANTA 2
    WASHINGTON 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: R CHURCH (.265, 3 HR, 15 RBI)

    Braves vs. NationalsMay 16 7:18 PM


  • NL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    ATLANTA 2 2 3 0
    WASHINGTON 0 0 0 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: ATL - KYLE DAVIES
    WAS - LEVALE SPEIGNER

    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: C GUZMAN (.314, 0 HR, 2 RBI)
    R BELLIARD (.272, 1 HR, 10 RBI)
    R ZIMMERMAN (.239, 2 HR,

    Braves vs. NationalsMay 16 7:12 PM