for this game

Nationals roll behind top of order

Jul 20, 2008 - 4:07 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The Washington Nationals finally bunched together a couple of clutch hits.

All-Star Cristian Guzman drove in three runs and Willie Harris and Paul Lo Duca added two RBI apiece as the Nationals on Saturday cruised to an 8-2 triumph over the Atlanta Braves.

Washington's first three batters in the lineup, Harris, Lo Duca and Guzman combined to go 7-for-14 and scored five runs. Austin Kearns plated the other run for the Nationals, who halted a three-game skid in winning for just the third time in 13 contests.

"We haven't been getting the big hit," Harris said. "Coming off the break, hopefully it's a sign of change and we can take some of this momentum into the ballgame tomorrow."

Big hits have been hard to come by for the lowly Nationals, who limped into the All-Star break in their familiar last-place spot in the National League East Division. However, Washington (37-62), which entered Saturday with the worst record in baseball and last in the majors with a .240 team batting average, had no problem swinging the bats in this one.

Lo Duca opened the scoring in the third inning with an RBI double and Guzman followed with a triple to make it 2-0 before coming home on a sacrifice fly by Kearns. After Chipper Jones got Atlanta on the board in the fifth with a run-scoring single, Harris - a former Brave - delivered an RBI triple in the seventh and scored on an infield hit by Guzman, giving Washington a 5-1 bulge.

"It's encouraging what we have done at the plate," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "We still have a long way to go, but I like what I saw."

An inning later, run-scoring singles by Harris and Lo Duca and a sacrifice fly by Guzman put the Nationals in front by seven.

The runs were more than enough for John Lannan (6-9), who allowed one run, seven hits and three walks in six innings for his team-leading 14th quality start. The lefthander, who struck out four, posted his second straight win following five consecutive losses.

"I really had to battle today," said Lannan, who was having difficulty cutting his fastball in on righthanded batters. "I just worked through it and got the team six innings. They hit the ball pretty hard for loud outs. I was lucky to get out of it."

Atlanta had plenty of chances against Lannan but was unable to muster a significant rally. The club left the bases loaded in both the fourth and fifth innings, plating just one run on a broken play in the fifth.

Mark Teixeira and All-Star Brian McCann laced two-out singles in the fourth before Lannan hit Jeff Francoeur to load the bases. But center fielder Harris ran down Greg Norton's bid for an extra-base hit in the left-center field gap to end the threat.

"I knew it was going to be in the gap," Harris said. "I ran towards it. It kind of held up in the air. I ran after it very hard and was able to come up with it."

Starter Jair Jurrjens ignited the Braves' tepid fifth-inning rally by drawing a one-out walk and advanced to second on a single by Gregor Blanco. Two batters later, Jones delivered a base hit to right field, drawing Atlanta within 3-1.

Lannan loaded the bases by issuing a walk to Teixeira. McCann followed with a hard liner to right field, which found the glove of Kearns to end the inning.

"We had bad luck tonight. We scolded those two balls," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "They both got run down. That was the name of the game tonight. We couldn't hit the ball any better. But if they're at people and they run it down, it's baseball."

"It just wasn't our night," Teixeira added. "If we'd lost by one run, we could have blamed it on balls hit right at people, but we kind of got our butts kicked."

Jurrjens (9-5) was tagged for five runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 frames, walking one and striking out five in dropping his second consecutive decision at Turner Field.

"I didn't have my great stuff today," Jurrjens said. "I didn't make pitches when I needed to make pitches and I got hurt. That's it."

Norton homered off Washington closer Jon Rauch in the ninth for the Braves, who had their three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 9-12 at home since June 1. The Braves also have dropped six of their 10 meetings with the Nationals this season.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    WASHINGTON 0 0 3 0 0 0 2 3 0 8 14 1
    ATLANTA 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 2 9 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: WAS - JOHN LANNAN, SAUL RIVERA (7TH), LUIS AYALA (8TH), JON RAUCH
    (9TH) AND JOHNNY ESTRADA, WIL NIEVES (7TH)
    ATL - JAIR JURRJENS, BUDDY CARLYLE (7TH), ROYCE RING
    (

    Jul 19 9:56 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY GREG NORTON (3) TO RIGHT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
    9TH OFF JON RAUCH.
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 8, ATLANTA 2
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: B LILLIBRIDGE (.244, 0-FOR-3)

    Nationals 8, Braves 2  Bot 9, 0 OutsJul 19 9:52 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY CRISTIAN GUZMAN SCORED WILLIE HARRIS.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, P LO DUCA ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 8
    ATLANTA 1 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: A KEARNS (.212, 2-FOR-3, SF, RBI)

    Nationals 8, Braves 1  Top 8, 0 OutsJul 19 9:32 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY PAUL LO DUCA SCORED WIL NIEVES.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, P LO DUCA ON FIRST, W HARRIS ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 7
    ATLANTA 1 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: C GUZMAN (.314, 2-FOR-4, 2 RBI)

    Nationals 7, Braves 1  Top 8, 0 OutsJul 19 9:31 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY WILLIE HARRIS SCORED RYAN LANGERHANS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, W HARRIS ON SECOND, W NIEVES ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 6
    ATLANTA 1 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: P LO DUCA (.226, 1-FOR-4, RBI)

    Nationals 6, Braves 1  Top 8, 0 OutsJul 19 9:27 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY CRISTIAN GUZMAN SCORED WILLIE HARRIS.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, C GUZMAN ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 5
    ATLANTA 1 TOP, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: A KEARNS (.208, 1-FOR-2, SF, RBI)

    Nationals 5, Braves 1  Top 7, 0 OutsJul 19 9:06 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    TRIPLE BY WILLIE HARRIS SCORED RYAN LANGERHANS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, W HARRIS ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 4
    ATLANTA 1 TOP, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: P LO DUCA (.229, 1-FOR-3, RBI)

    Nationals 4, Braves 1  Top 7, 0 OutsJul 19 9:01 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY CHIPPER JONES SCORED JAIR JURRJENS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C JONES ON SECOND, G BLANCO ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 3
    ATLANTA 1 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: M TEIXEIRA (.274, 1-FOR-2)

    Nationals 3, Braves 1  Bot 5, 0 OutsJul 19 8:37 PM
  • 25
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 25 roots

    Nationals 3, Braves 0  Bot 5, 0 OutsJul 19 8:28 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY AUSTIN KEARNS SCORED CRISTIAN GUZMAN.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, NONE ON, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 3
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: J ESTRADA (.159, 0-FOR-1)

    Nationals 3, Braves 0  Top 3, 0 OutsJul 19 7:51 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    TRIPLE BY CRISTIAN GUZMAN SCORED PAUL LO DUCA.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, C GUZMAN ON THIRD, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 2
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: A KEARNS (.209, 1-FOR-1)

    Nationals 2, Braves 0  Top 3, 0 OutsJul 19 7:50 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY PAUL LO DUCA SCORED WILLIE HARRIS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, P LO DUCA ON SECOND, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 1
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: C GUZMAN (.311, 0-FOR-1)

    Nationals 1, Braves 0  Top 3, 0 OutsJul 19 7:49 PM