Nationals blank Braves for 6th straight win
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' starting pitching continued to dominate as Washington blanked the Braves, 7-0, at Nationals Park on Thursday afternoon to complete a three-game sweep. The Nats have won six consecutive games.
"The guys are going out there playing defense, putting good at-bats together and doing things the right way together, and that's our biggest thing,'' said Nationals right-hander Doug Fister. "We have some momentum together, we have some good spirits in the clubhouse, we have some spirits on the field. Guys are in midseason form in June. That's that a good thing."
In his second start following a stint on the disabled list due to a flexor strain, Fister had his best outing of the season. He lasted seven innings and picked up his third win.
Braves right-hander Matt Wisler wasn't as fortunate. In his second career start, he lasted just four innings and allowed six runs (four earned) on nine hits. He had thrown eight innings of one-run ball in his debut.
After getting swept in this three-game set, the Braves now stand five games behind the first-place Nationals in the National League East. Atlanta committed three errors in the series finale.
"Typically, you want to let the way you play on the field speak for itself in a good way," Braves utility man Kelly Johnson said. "In this case, this was letting it speak for itself in a bad way. There's not a lot to say. It was pretty ugly."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Fister full of outs: Fister had his curveball and sinker working on Thursday. He allowed four hits and threw 111 pitches. It was his longest outing since his complete game against the Marlins on Sept. 26, 2014. The only time the Braves made a serious threat was in the fifth inning. They had runners on first and second and no outs, but Pedro Ciriaco flew out to center fielder Denard Span, then Eury Perez hit into an inning-ending double play. The double play to end the fifth made it 39 1/3 scoreless innings for the rotation, which set a franchise record. After Fister exited, the streak was at 41 1/3 innings. More >
"I have some building I need to do," Fister said. "I wanted to push myself today, and [manager Matt Williams] let me go back out there in the seventh. That's huge for me, is being able to go back out there and prove to teammates and prove to myself that I can go out there and finish an inning. That was a positive note for me personally."
Brought down to earth: Wisler was nowhere near as impressive as he had been on Friday, when he limited the Mets to just the one run. The highly regarded prospect surrendered a pair of unearned runs during the first two innings, but he also allowed four extra-base hits, including Ian Desmond's two-run homer, through the first three innings. More >
"Being up here, you have to be on your game every game," Wisler said. "These guys are the best hitters in the world. I wasn't on today and they beat me."
Desmond leads the charge: The Nationals scored six runs in the first three innings against Wisler. Desmond highlighted the scoring with a two-run homer, his sixth long ball of the season and first since June 7. He ended up with two hits in the game. This could be a sign that Desmond is getting out of his slump. More >
"He stayed on a fastball away and hit it over the fence," Williams said. "... I'm happy for him that he was able to hit that homer. The ball the other way and the ball back through the middle are really good signs. It means he's staying on it and seeing it good. I hope that'll get him hot and get him rolling."
Another futile offensive effort: This certainly was not a good time for the Braves to face the Nationals without Freddie Freeman, who was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday. Atlanta tallied just two runs during this three-game series.
"We weren't real pretty to watch today. Let's just put it that way." -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez
ERRORLESS STREAK ENDS
Nick Markakis' errorless streak was snapped at 398 games when he bobbled a leadoff single that allowed Span to reach second base in the first inning. Markakis set a Major League record for outfielders last week when he increased the errorless streak to 393 games. More >
The Braves were unsuccessful with the challenge they issued after Yunel Escobar scored from second base on Clint Robinson's single in the third inning. Following a replay review, it was ruled that the safe call stands.
Braves: Williams Perez will take the mound on Friday when Atlanta begins a three-game series vs. the Pirates at PNC Park at 7:05 p.m. ET. Perez has posted a 2.14 ERA through his first seven career starts. He allowed four earned runs in just five innings against the Pirates earlier this month.
Nationals: Right-hander Max Scherzer takes the mound less than a week after throwing a no-hitter against the Pirates when the Nats open a series on the road against the Phillies on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET. The last time Scherzer allowed a run was against the Yankees on June 9.
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