Uggla stuns former team as Nats charge past Braves
ATLANTA -- Dan Uggla silenced those who had booed him the past two nights when he drilled a three-run home run off Jason Grilli in the ninth inning of the stirring 13-12 comeback win the Nationals claimed against the Braves on Tuesday night at Turner Field.
Uggla's line-drive shot into the left-field seats proved decisive for the Nationals, who erased two eight-run deficits on the way to snapping their six-game losing streak. Grilli's first blown save of the season completed a horrific pitching performance by the Braves, who saw their starting pitcher, Julio Teheran, allow seven runs (three earned) on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings.
"They just kept hanging around, and we let them do that," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "This is the Major Leagues. Anybody can run you out of the ballpark, and that is what happened there at the end."
A.J. Pierzynski and Freddie Freeman produced four-hit performances for the Braves, who like the Nationals set season-high totals in hits and runs. The visitors received a five-hit performance from Denard Span. But in the end, the biggest hits of the night belonged to Uggla, who is being paid $12.75 million this year by the Braves, who released him last year.
"It was cool. This stadium, this place is very special to me," said Uggla. "I've had a lot of great memories here. ... I love Atlanta. I love the fans here. I love everything about this place."
"I'm just so happy for him. For him to do that right there was unbelievable," Nationals third baseman Danny Espinosa said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Teheran extends struggles: After being spotted an eight-run lead through the second and fourth innings, Teheran struggled through a four-run fifth inning that was marred by Alberto Callaspo's error and highlighted by Jose Lobaton's three-run homer. This was the third consecutive shaky outing for Teheran, who exited after surrendering Span's two-out solo homer in the sixth. More >
Cole shaky in MLB debut: Washington's No. 3 prospect, A.J. Cole, gave up nine runs in two innings in his Major League debut, though only four of them were earned. But he was responsible for the five unearned runs, too, when he dropped a toss covering first base that could have ended the inning. Instead, it allowed two runs to score. Cole let three more across in the seven-run second on a Kelly Johnson double and a Jace Peterson single. Cole, a lanky right-hander making the start in place of injured ace Max Scherzer, went two innings, gave up nine hits and also hit into a double play. More >
A.J. keeps raking: Pierzynski improved his batting average to .439 with the fourth four-hit, four-RBI game of his career. The veteran catcher produced a sacrifice fly in the first inning and reached safely in his other five plate appearances. But his sixth-inning RBI double and the run he drove in with a seventh-inning single went for naught after the Nationals completed this comeback that was fueled by a three-run seventh, which included Uggla's two-run triple off Luis Avilan. More >
Span the man: Span led the breakout of Washington's offense, smacking five hits, including a single, three doubles and his first homer of the year. It was the fourth five-hit game of Span's career, and he bumped his average from .207 to .314. More >
"As a friend, it's tough, he played the game the right way and hustled every single time. Fans are going to react the way fans are going to react. It's tough, but he kind of shut them up tonight, didn't he?" -- Freeman, on the boos his good friend, Uggla, heard during the first two games of this series
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Pierzynski has batted .439 (18-for-41) through his first 11 games of the season. The last Braves player to hit at least .400 through the end of April with a minimum of 45 plate appearances was Chipper Jones, who batted .410 (41-for-100) during the first month of the 2008 season.
Nationals: Washington will attempt to claim a series victory behind starter Jordan Zimmermann in Wednesday night's series finale against Alex Wood and the Braves at 7:10 ET. Coming off a couple of shaky outings, Zimmermann seemed to right himself with six strong innings against the Marlins on Friday.
Braves: Wood has posted a 1.49 ERA in six career starts against the Nationals. But like Zimmermann, the Braves left-hander has yet to complete a start in dominant fashion. He totaled just one strikeout over his past two starts.
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