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Braves come alive in ninth, fall short vs. Nats

Atlanta mustered just three hits in first eight innings vs. Strasburg
Special to MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- After scoring an astonishing 62 runs over their first eight games of the season, the Braves' offensive juggernaut was clicking on all cylinders before Monday night's series opener vs. the Nationals. In one inning against a pitcher not named Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer on Tuesday night, Atlanta was back to its old tricks. 

The Braves managed just three hits and two walks against Strasburg, who pitched a sensational eight innings. Atlanta finally threatened in the top of the ninth, with Dansby Swanson's RBI double representing the team's first run of the series, but Ryan Flaherty struck out looking to end the game.

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WASHINGTON -- After scoring an astonishing 62 runs over their first eight games of the season, the Braves' offensive juggernaut was clicking on all cylinders before Monday night's series opener vs. the Nationals. In one inning against a pitcher not named Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer on Tuesday night, Atlanta was back to its old tricks. 

The Braves managed just three hits and two walks against Strasburg, who pitched a sensational eight innings. Atlanta finally threatened in the top of the ninth, with Dansby Swanson's RBI double representing the team's first run of the series, but Ryan Flaherty struck out looking to end the game.

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Atlanta's defense had a rough game Tuesday night, as a pair of diving attempts by center fielder Ender Inciarte fell just short, resulting in three of the Nationals' runs. An errant throw from right-hander Shane Carle resulted in another run in the sixth.

Video: ATL@WSH: Strasburg bunts, Difo scores on errant throw

In two games against the Nationals, the Braves have mustered just seven hits.

Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz took his first loss of the season, lasting five frames while allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks.

"The big thing was, couple of feet either way, and he does five innings with no runs," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Foltynewicz. "The process is going in the right direction with him. I really like what I've seen all spring, and to this point in the season."

Video: ATL@WSH: Foltynewicz strikes out Zimmerman in the 5th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Out of reach: Inciarte had a tough game at the plate, going 1-for-4, but it was his defensive near-misses that loomed large. In the first inning, he dove and missed a liner off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman. The ball tricked all the way to the wall, and Zimmerman reached third on a two-run triple.

"He was just trying to get it. He's getting after it, and he's trying to do anything he can to try and end the inning right there," Snitker said about Inciarte's first-inning dive. More >

Video: ATL@WSH: Zimmerman lines a two-run triple to center

Then, in the fourth inning, Inciarte slid and came up short on a ball off Brian Goodwin's bat. This time, left fielder Preston Tucker was there to corral the ball, but another runned crossed the plate for Washington.

Video: ATL@WSH: Goodwin plates Difo with a single in the 4th

"Brain farts": Not only did Nationals right-hander Strasburg out-pitch Foltynewicz, he got the best of his foe at the plate. Strasburg singled and walked against Foltynewicz, and the Braves' starter would later attribute Strasburg's success at the plate to "brain farts" on Foltynewicz's end.

Video: ATL@WSH: Strasburg rips a single to center in the 2nd

"Handful of pitches there could have led to another inning I could've got back out there," Foltynewicz said. "A couple brain farts. Not focused too much at that time."

WHAT'S NEXT
Right-hander Brandon McCarthy (2-0, 3.97 ERA) takes the mound for the Braves in the series finale against the Nationals at 1:05 p.m. ET at Nationals Park. McCarthy is coming off a quality start in Colorado, and will go for his third straight win to begin the season.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Joshua Needelman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. and covered the Braves on Tuesday.

Atlanta Braves