The Washington Nationals enter Thursday’s finale of their home series against Atlanta knowing they are heading for the playoffs, and probably happy the Braves will not be waiting for them in the postseason. The National League East champions were routed 8-2 by Atlanta on Wednesday, falling for the sixth time in nine home games against a Braves team that is 12 games under .500 but one that has pounded Washington pitching for 16 runs on 24 hits in the series.
The Nationals got Jayson Werth back into the lineup Wednesday after the right fielder missed five games with a sore left shoulder, but saw ace Max Scherzer ripped for seven runs and six walks in six-plus innings. Shortstop Trea Turner stole his 40th base of the season in the loss and is 10-for-24 through six games of Washington’s 10-game homestand. Atlanta has won four in a row and six of its past seven - its best week-long stretch since mid-July. Braves rookie second baseman Ozzie Albies extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single and two walks in Wednesday’s victory, raising his average to .350 in his past 26 contests.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Atlanta), MASN2 (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves RH Mike Foltynewicz (10-12, 4.74 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Tanner Roark (12-9, 4.48)
Foltynewicz was 10-6 with a 3.94 ERA after beating the Marlins on Aug. 5, but has lost his past six starts with an 8.07 ERA and a .331 opponents’ batting average. His past three starts have been far better, allowing only six runs in 17 1/3 innings, but the Braves have scored only one run total in those three contests. Foltynewicz faces Washington for the fourth time in 2017, going 1-1 with a 6.61 ERA in the first three.
Roark has been outstanding after recording an 8.31 ERA in June, going 6-3 across his past 11 appearances (10 starts) with a 3.36 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 67 innings. He won for the third time in his past four starts Sept. 7 against Philadelphia, allowing three runs in six innings - six days after striking out 10 in seven innings against Milwaukee. Roark is 0-1 in two games (one start) against the Braves in 2017, giving up 10 runs on 13 hits in 10 innings.
1. Nationals 2B Daniel Murphy, who is batting .435 during his current six-game hitting streak, did not play Wednesday due to a stiff neck.
2. Atlanta CF Ender Inciarte, third in the majors in hits (187), did not play Wednesday due to a jammed thumb and reserve OF Lane Adams got the start while collecting a career-high three hits.
3. Turner’s big night raised his career average against the Braves to .411 in 27 games.
PREDICTION: Nationals 4, Braves 3