WASHINGTON -- The fans who remained at Nationals Park let out a cheer as the starting pitchers began walking toward their respective bullpens. It was 9:38 p.m. ET and the clearest sign that the start of Thursday's game was imminent. Left-hander Giovany Gonzalez delivered the game's first pitch at 10:10
WASHINGTON -- The fans who remained at Nationals Park let out a cheer as the starting pitchers began walking toward their respective bullpens. It was 9:38 p.m. ET and the clearest sign that the start of Thursday's game was imminent. Left-hander Giovany Gonzalez delivered the game's first pitch at 10:10 p.m., following a three-hour and five-minute delay due to approaching inclement weather, although the heavy rain the forecast predicted never arrived.
"No rain, and we just had to wait," Gonzalez said. "We didn't know what the heck was going on until 10 o'clock."
The fans who did stick around until the start of the game were treated to free soda, water, ice cream and eventually hot dogs, as they gathered in the stands on the first level and remained lively throughout. And as Thursday night turned into early Friday morning, the Braves hammered 12 hits and beat the Nationals, 5-2, thanks to a go-ahead homer from Kurt Suzuki and Freddie Freeman notching his 1,000th career hit on one of his two RBI doubles.
That backed up a strong start from right-hander Mike Foltynewicz, who held the Nats to two runs on eight hits with five strikeouts in six innings.
"We were just wondering what was going on and wondering why we weren't playing," Freeman said. "But better late than never. I don't think anybody likes playing doubleheaders. Once you get one in and get the win, it just makes it that much sweeter with what they did."
"You hate to have the fans wait around as much as we hate to wait around," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "But we were told that there was a pretty severe storm coming. But weathermen, as you know, have been wrong before. It's hard to predict weather, so that's what we were told. We didn't want to have the field in bad conditions, and we didn't want to start in the rain and waste a pitcher."
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Gonzalez gave up three runs in six innings with six strikeouts and a pair of walks. His first-half ERA will stand at 2.86, as the lefty, who was left off the National League's Midsummer Classic roster, made his strongest bid to be an All-Star this season with the game in Miami, near his hometown.
But after Brian Goodwin homered to tie it for the Nats in the fifth, Gonzalez gave up Suzuki's dinger in the sixth.
As the home team Thursday night, the Nationals were in control of when this game started against the Braves. The tarp was not placed on the field until 90 minutes into the delay, and as players from both teams checked the weather, there was no sign of impending rain in the area.
"I went out there to check the weather and I just saw the sun out, just chillin'," Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips said. "I was like, I don't know what's going on. But I played for Dusty, and all I can say is he's a smart manager. I'm glad we got it in. We got the 'W.'"
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Freeman's feat: Freeman became one of 19 players to record 1,000 hits while playing for the Braves when he delivered a run-scoring double into left field in the seventh inning off Nationals left-hander Sammy Solis. Of those 1,000 hits, 125 have come against the Nationals, exactly one-eighth. Freeman eventually scored on a double by Nick Markakis to extend Atlanta's lead to 5-2. More >
Suzuki's go-ahead homer: Suzuki continued his recent power surge in the sixth inning by hammering a fastball from Gonzalez into left field to break a 2-2 tie. It was his third home run in his past eight at-bats and seventh overall. Three of those homers have come against his former team, the Nationals.
"All of his homers have been big," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He and [starting catcher Tyler Flowers] have been getting big hits all year."
"The guys hung in there pretty well. It's been a long couple days for us. We had late travel getting in last night and got to bed at [5 a.m. Thursday], and then had to wait around like that. It's tough. It's what we do. ... There's nothing you can do about it." -- Snitker, whose team traveled to Washington after playing a Wednesday night game in Atlanta that was briefly delayed by rain
"That was a new one for me. Just do everything you can to stay prepared. They tell you you've got a chance to play, so you keep that in the back of your head and just run with it." -- Goodwin, on the long delay
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Braves have won three of their past four games at Nationals Park. Entering a June 12 series opener, they had lost 23 of their previous 25 road games against the Nationals.
Braves:R.A. Dickey will take the mound when this four-game series resumes Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Dickey has posted a 0.90 ERA in the three starts he's made since allowing the Nationals a season-high eight earned runs in five innings on June 13.
Nationals:Max Scherzer makes his final start of the first half in what could be a tuneup before he starts the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami on Tuesday. He is going through one of the best streaks of his career, striking out at least 10 batters in seven of his past eight starts.
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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.