WASHINGTON -- The Nationals came into this series finale with the Braves searching for a three-game sweep that could have erased the bad taste in their mouth after being swept this past weekend at home. Even when they fell behind, they mounted a pair of comeback attempts during a rollercoaster
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals came into this series finale with the Braves searching for a three-game sweep that could have erased the bad taste in their mouth after being swept this past weekend at home. Even when they fell behind, they mounted a pair of comeback attempts during a rollercoaster of a 12-inning game Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park, but ultimately fell short when Peter Bourjos pushed a two-run single into right field against Ryan Madson to lead Atlanta to a 5-3 victory.
And yet, the Nationals took some solace in the fact that they came so close to stealing this game, even if they could not pull it off.
"Tough one, but the boys played well," manager Dave Martinez said. "They battled all game long, we just fell short."
Washington got a much better outing from right-hander A.J. Cole, rebounding from his disastrous debut a week ago in Atlanta, to toss 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball. But the Nats, who lost their leadoff hitter Adam Eaton to the disabled list earlier in the day, could not muster much offense through the start of the game until the ninth inning. Matt Adams launched a game-tying home run into left-center field against Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino.
"It felt good. It was a big time moment," Adams said. "I'm the type of guy, I want to do whatever it is, whether it's that, a walk, get on base, keep the line moving … today we keep fighting until the end. It's a good feeling for sure."
Kurt Suzuki hit a solo home run in the 11th, his second of the afternoon, to put Atlanta back on top. But that lead lasted briefly, thanks to an RBI double from Howie Kendrick in the bottom of the inning. That was until Bourjos' two-run single put Atlanta ahead for good, and right-hander Shane Carle's scoreless 12th sealed the victory.
So while the Nationals can take some positives from this game -- their comeback attempts, Cole's improvement, some progress from Brandon Kintzler after three consecutive rough outings -- it only dulls the sting of losing a game that barely escaped them.
"It's still frustrating that we lost," left-hander Sean Doolittle said. "There are silver linings we can take from this moving forward. We won the series. I think overall we played a pretty good game of baseball today, but to come that close to getting a sweep after a really tough series against New York and the Braves are playing really well, that would've been a really big win for us.
"There are positives to take, but it's still really frustrating."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Adams ties it: There was a chance earlier in the game for the Nationals to pinch-run for Adams when he represented the tying run at second base in the seventh inning, and although he was ultimately thrown out at the plate, keeping him in the game proved to be a good decision. Adams' solo homer was the first game-tying home run in the ninth inning or later in his career.
"It's huge," Adams said. "With this team everyone's important. To be able to put us back to a tie game and go into extras with a chance to win it is huge."
Kendrick extends the game: The Nats fell behind for a second time when Suzuki gave Atlanta the lead in the 11th, but once again they rallied. Bryce Harper began the inning with a single to right field and advanced to second on a groundout. But with two outs, Kendrick roped a double into the left-field gap to extend the game again.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Ender Inciarte nearly created a run by himself on the basepaths in the 10th inning. After drawing a leadoff walk, he stole second base and was a part of a double steal to get to third base. Then with two outs in the inning, Inciarte attempted his boldest play yet, trying a straight steal of home against the left-hander Doolittle. Quickly, catcher Pedro Severino and third baseman Anthony Rendon noticed Inciarte running and yelled to inform Doolittle, who has his back turned to third base. He recovered instantly and threw Inciarte out at the plate on a close play. Atlanta challenged the play, but the call on the field stood and the inning was over.
"I was thinking that he might try it because we've seen other guys already try this year around the league," Doolittle said. "I know I'm kind of exposed the way I'm super deliberate. I'm slow with the way I come set and everything. But Tony and Sevy were all over it and they gave me enough to give me a chance to get him out."
The Nationals welcome the Rockies to Nationals Park for the start of a four-game series on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Left-hander Giovany Gonzalez will take the mound; he is unbeaten in five career starts against Colorado (4-0, 3.58 ERA).
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Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.